The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues
When strangely burned bodies start washing ashore near Professor King’s marine biology lab, Dr. Ted Stevens investigates. He observes a mysterious light in the ocean depths, gets cozy with King’s daughter Lois and recruits secretary Ethel Hall to seek answers. Meanwhile, an international spy operation seeks to possess the secret to King’s “weapon”—a murderous creature spawned from radioactive material in the deep.
While watching this film, viewers may wonder what, exactly, a “league” may be. As a unit of measurement, this Medieval term refers to a distance of about three miles (varying by country) on land. At sea, a “league” is a unit of distance equivalent to three nautical miles or 3,031 fathoms. “Fathom” is another old-timey unit of measurement, coming from the term for the space of one’s arms. A fathom was the length of a person’s outstretched arms—about six feet, though of course results depended on who was doing the measuring. At 10,000 leagues, the Phantom in this movie comes from a depth just about 6,000 feet shy from deepest point in the ocean (that we know of). Now THAT’S deep!
Joe DickinsonBiologist Joe Dickinson of the University of Utah discusses mutation and the film “Phantom of 10,000 Leagues.”
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