Pat Boone, a 1950s crooner who appeared in more than a dozen Hollywood films, is coming to Omaha for a special May 19 screening of “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
The 1959 movie, to be shown at 7 p.m. at Joslyn Art Museum's Witherspoon Concert Hall, will be Omaha film historian Bruce Crawford's 30th classic screening, a benefit for the Nebraska Kidney Association. Tickets, $25 each, go on sale today at all Omaha Hy-Vee service counters.
“Journey to the Center of the Earth” was the third hit movie based on the sci-fi adventure tales of Jules Verne, Crawford said. It followed “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (1954) and “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956).
Crawford said “Journey” was 20th Century Fox's biggest moneymaker for 1959-60, raking in millions. Boone, who co-stars, also invested in the production of the film, and continues to receive residual checks from it.
A new Blu-ray version will be on sale at the event, and Boone, 77, will sign copies purchased at the screening.
Crawford said the Omaha Pipes and Drums will provide bagpipe music, calling to mind an early scene in the movie, which opens in 1880s Scotland. Boone, wearing a kilt, plays the top geology student of Professor Oliver Lindenbrook (James Mason), and is surrounded by bagpipers as he reads news of the professor being knighted.
The Nebraska Steampunk Society will also be on hand, re-creating some of the Victorian-era gadgetry and costumes from the movie's era.
Collector Jeff Peterson of Council Bluffs will display original posters and lobby cards from the movie as well.
Crawford said “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is primarily known for its Bernard Herrmann score and for striking visuals tinged with German impressionism. Much of the film was shot in caves and caverns, including Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
The plot of the movie centers on a professor and his student who journey to Iceland and find a pathway to the center of the Earth by way of a volcano. A rival professor's wife (Arlene Dahl) joins them on the journey after her husband is murdered.
Crawford, who called the wide-screen CinemaScope movie one of his childhood favorites, particularly recalls a shot of a giant mushroom forest.
The movie snagged Oscar nominations for art direction, special effects and sound. The score, now considered one of Herrmann's finest, was overlooked by the Academy, Crawford said.
Boone was a teen heartthrob at the time of “Journey,” churning out such pop hits as “April Love,” “Long, Tall Sally” and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” Known for his clean-cut Christian image, he frequently covered hits by black R&B artists of the time, changing some of the racier lyrics.
Boone was the second-biggest recording artist of the 1950s, behind only Elvis Presley, selling more than 45 million albums and charting 38 Top 40 hits.
In addition to appearing in movies, he hosted an ABC variety show for three years and wrote a bestseller (“Twixt Twelve and Twenty”).
He is the father of singer Debby Boone (“You Light Up My Life”) and a direct descendant of frontiersman Daniel Boone.
Boone has said “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is his favorite among the movies he appeared in, and probably the movie he's most known for.
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