Staging the Celluloid Thriller
��By George F. Worts
��GOING to the lioltom of the sea for motion-pictures was accoin[)lisiie(I for the first time about two years ago by (k'orse and Mdwin Williamson, brothers who invented and perfected an undersea motion - picture apparatus. Their apparatus for making photographs under water was fully described in these pages at the time. But the <Sl.
results they obtained then can ^-- pfJS^ not be compared wi results the\-liaveobtai in a photo play which been in process of film ing during the past year in the waters of the Caribbean near Nassau, Jamaica.
��Jitles Verne and
Daniel . Defoe ' on
They took a most difficult sub- ject for their scen- ario. It was a composite story based on the most usable parts of Jules Verne's "Twenty Thou- sand Leagues Under the Sea" and Daniel De- foe's famous "Robinson Crusoe."
When the picture was first contempla- ted, Stuart Paton, the director, thought that he would borrow a submarine from the United States Navy for the parts of the story in which Jules Verne describes the submarine. The United States Navy was not especially enthusiastic about lending a submarine, and it was discovered that Jules Verne's submarine had very little in common with the submarine of to-day.
Accordingly a submarine was built especially for the picture. It took six months to build, and when it was finisiied it could dive, rise to the surface and shoot a regulation torpedo. The deck of this unusual craft had one hatch and
���It Will Be Recalled That the Williamson Apparatus Consists of a Collapsible Tube Suspended from the Bottom of a Barge
��a very stunted conning tower. In shape
only did it resemble the U-boat of to-day.
It was engineless. It was submerged
l)y means of inlet valves, and it came to
the surface by forcing out the water
with compressed air which was carried
in tanks. Thirty men comprised the
crew. In the bottom of the
hull a hatchway (an air lock)
was provided, so that the crew
in their diving-suits could
climb out upon the ocean
bottom. The maximum
d iving depth was abou t
The ocean and its inhabitants pro- vided a great deal of excitement and danger. Most of the time the ocean was rough, too rough for taking pictures. Most of the dramatic ac- tion of the film took 1)1 ace on the ocean floor of the Caribbean at a depth of about thirty feet. The water near Nassau was found to be so clear that artificial lighting was not necessary. In the older Williamson undersea picture artificial lights were frequently needed. Since then, however, the apparatus has been considerabh- impro\ed, and faster cam- era lenses have also been found.
The Williamson apparatus, it will be recalled, consists of a large collapsible tube suspended from the bottom of a barge. At the bottom of the tube is a camera chamber provided with a win- dow. The camera-man sits with his camera behind this window. In rough weather the barge would roll and the chamber and its occupant would swing back and forth. This motion of course prevented picture-taking. The tides furnished another serious handicap. On