The island survivors battle a giant bird (a prehistoric phororhacos), providing a thrilling moment when Herbert (Michael Callan) heroically jumps upon the large creature and subdues it, rescuing Elena (Beth Rogan), Lady Mary (Joan Greenwood), and Mr. Spilitt (Gary Merrill). Ray Harryhausen's special effects are superlative in this sequence, all orchestrated to coincide with the masterful score by composer Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann found an organ fugue written by composer J. L. Krebs and utilizes this thematic material to underscore the drama of contending with an otherworldly creature in such a marvelously tropical, fantastic environment. After winning the furious battle, the survivors speculate, "I wonder how many minutes it would take to cook in a slow oven?" The group manages to make a meal out of the bird and enjoys a fabulous repast in the relative safety and comfort of their lofty cave-home. Neb (Dan Jackson) humorously suggests that if it had not been for Herbert's heroic action, "Mr. Spilitt would have been in the inside cutting out instead of on the outside cutting in!"
A Hidden Cove & the Nautilus
After Herbert and Elena narrowly escape becoming permanently trapped in a giant beehive with enormous bees, they both fall through the upper reaches of a cavern and manage to discover a hidden grotto beneath. Here they both spot the strangely beautiful and mysterious submarine "Nautilus," the legendary craft commanded by Capt. Nemo. This is a highly evocative scene with neat atmosphere and very colorful set design. Ray Harryhausen reveals in his accompanying film documentary that the beautiful model of the Nautilus was actually about 8 to 10 feet long, just as impressive as the model featured by Disney for "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" released in 1954. As Herbert and Elena gingerly inspect the abandoned Nautilus, Elena worries that they will be discovered and urges Herbert to curtail his curiosity. Before they leave, we catch a glimpse of the rich interior of the Nautilus, the gold and burgundy color scheme contrasted with subdued portions of blue-gray, marvelous circular portholes, lovely draperies, a library of scholarly books, maps, candles, and an imposing pipe organ at the end of the room. This is one of the most beautiful sets I have ever seen in a Science Fiction/ Fantasy film.
Pirates and the First Appearance of Capt. Nemo (Herbert Lom)
When a sailing ship appears just off shore, some of the island survivors instinctively wish to signal their presence upon the island, but Capt. Harding (Michael Craig) wisely orders no signal to be given until they can determine what type of vessel this may be. Through the use of a telescope, Capt. Harding observes the skull & crossbones, revealing this ship to be commanded by a group of pirates. The survivors try to hide all indications of their presence on the island, but the pirates come ashore and accidentally discover signs of recent human activity. Lady Mary trips while bringing a rifle to Capt. Harding, sending a loud report from the lofty cave high above the sandy beach. Immediately a battle begins as the survivors defend their island against the approaching menace. The pirate crew notices the location of the cave and begins to blast away at "The Granite House" with volleys of cannon fire, seriously damaging the structure of the cave. Just as the pirates seem to be winning and enjoying a victory celebration, a huge explosion takes place under the water adjacent to the pirate ship, causing the vessel to sink in just a few minutes with the loss of all hands aboard. Although the island survivors are glad to see the pirates defeated, they are baffled as to the cause of their sudden demise. It is at this point that Capt. Nemo makes his first appearance to Herbert on the beach, emerging from the ocean in his unique underwater gear, looking like some otherworldly apparition unbeknownst to man. Herbert wisely tells Elena to flee as he alone faces this very strange sight. Capt. Nemo commands Herbert to "Put that down!", noting the small knife which the soldier bravely brandishes in his defense. "Very well, keep it if it gives you some comfort," relates Nemo in his marvelous accent and smoothly resonant tone of voice. The other island survivors appear and stand alongside Herbert, curious as to who this unusual apparition might be. Nemo introduces himself and knows each one of the islanders by name, speaking to Lady Mary, "I'm not quite the ogre I appear." Suddenly everything is made clear as the islanders realize that Capt. Nemo was on the island all along, secretly monitoring them and even helping when they faced numerous challenges. Nemo explains that, "Contact with my own species has always disappointed me. Solitude gives me freedom of mind and independence of action."