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Harry goes absolutely stark raving mad over the script to THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!!!


That’s what THE WORLD OF TOMORROW aspires to be, a rollicking adventure that you dream of after a day of watching Buster Crabbe or Kirby Grant or Edmund Lowe or Kane Richmond or Tristram Coffin in their thrilling spine-tingling action-adventures of long ago. That’s right, I’m talking about those Serial yarns. Those improbable, impossible flickers with feats of derring-do! THE WORLD OF TOMORROW is ripped straight out of that universe.

Whoever this Kerry Conran is, he’s a geek. A big whopping glorious master of the geek arts. He knows his serials, he knows his Max Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons, he knows Alex Raymond and he’s very aware of the 1939 World’s Fair. 10 to 1 you could sit and talk with Kerry Conran about Chesley Bonestell and Frank R Paul for quite some time. Chatting about WEIRD TALES or ASTOUNDING or AMAZING STORIES would be a pleasure, or rapping bout the days of E.C. Sci-Fi and the dreams of Feldstein, Wood, Frazetta, Williamson and Orlando would just wreak havoc on the vocal chords as you both began out geeking one another.

When Moriarty linked to that L.A. Times story about THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, I’m not sure if he understood the Mania that would be caused in me. 30’s Deco Sci-Fi is the domain of my dreams. It’s part of the reason I love KING KONG at such a primal level… Those Deco titles, that 30’s New York… It all just screams at me, like the place and time that I love most. That era just had a style that permeated everything from the double breasted suits to the polo pants of its heroes, to those magnificent shoulders on the dresses at the time or the ‘sculpted’ hair of its heroines. Nothing was plain, it all had style, and the dreams of what tomorrow would be… Glorious.

So much of the vision of Science Fiction from the era came out of Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS and enhanced upon for William Cameron Menzies’ THINGS TO COME. Which were being torn from the pages of the pulps and their magnificent covers of the era. For sci-fi geeks that care to remember before there was STAR WARS or 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, this is a fetish era… a special place that those that know it, know has never been captured on screen the way our imaginations have captured it for years. That might all change with THE WORLD OF TOMORROW.

As the film fades in, we find ourselves staring at a Chapter Card that reads:



Which, btw, is the title of the second of the Fleischer SUPERMAN cartoons. Then with a circle wipe we are looking at the New York City skyline amidst a snowstorm at dusk… a gigantic hulking grey shape pushing through the flurries and fog that we recognize as a massive Dirigible – called HINDENBURG III. As the ship descends into the 30’s New York skyline, spotlights crisscross on the horizon.

Ok, pretty cool. The Zeppelin docks atop the Empire State Building. There’s of course a mysterious figure we’re following aboard, that is coming to our precious thirties New York. He has a satchel loaded with strange fantastical mechanical designs and grotesque autopsy photos. Indeed, strange things are afoot!

We next meet POLLY PERKINS – who will be being played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who is… essentially the Max Fleischer LOIS LANE from those SUPERMAN cartoons. She’s a hard-hitting reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper that dares all for her story. She has been writing stories about the mysterious disappearances of some of the world’s most noted Scientists when she gets a package that seems to indicate that the ‘sender’ knows who will be next and where to meet the informant for further information. Soon we’re whisked to 1930’s era RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL – the front is decorated with elaborate displays for “SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS” She soon meets the “mysterious man” who reveals that he was part of a group of seven scientists that were chosen to serve in a secret facility outside Berlin before the start of World War 1 known as Ehnheit Elf… UNIT ELEVEN.

Suddenly the background sound of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS is interrupted by an eruption of Air Raid Sirens and the mysterious scientist goes white with terror… “TOTENKOPF! IT’S TOTENKOPF!” he runs out of the theater in a panic, dropping papers in his wake … strange schematic drawings for machines beyond comprehension. Polly rushes out onto the streets… There’s a montage of military and police battalions preparing for an enemy invasion… In my imagination, I see the Fleischer montage in preparation for the BULLETEERS… but that’s me. The sound of the city has died to only the wailing of the sirens… Searchlights piercing the sky--- Strange flying Machines in the sky, flying between Skyscrapers in formation like planes…

Polly has rushed to a telephone to phone into her editor the knowledge she has thus far, and to request research on the name… TOTENKOPF… Her editor is frantic to get the details, when suddenly her call is interrupted by gunfire and a dropped receiver. Polly has fled the booth, rounding the corner to see what the noise is about. Military vehicles speed down 5th Avenue fleeing whatever it is like scared mice before a vicious mouse hungry cat! As she peers around the corner we see them.


A frantic Police Officer reaches a call box – “They’ve broken through the perimeter… send reinforcements… send us everything you’ve got!”

We’re suddenly whisked to Radio Dispatch Control – where the Radio Operator is on the horn calling: “Emergency protocol 90206… calling Sky Captain… come in Sky Captain… repeat calling Sky Captain… come in Sky Captain…”

We dissolve to see visible radio waves emanating from a transmitting tower like the old RKO LOGO – we follow the waves through dissolves showing them traveling the entirety of the globe… Relay towers re-broadcasting the call till there are concentric radio bands throughout the sky…. All calling for the mysterious SKY CAPTAIN to come in, to help New York City!

We begin to hear a low rumble in the distance that bursts from a thick cloud base to reveal a P-40 WARHAWK piloted by the SKY CAPTAIN – actually Captain Joe Sullivan to be brought to life by that insanely handsome Jude Law, “the taciturn leader of THE FLYING LEGION!” He answers the call and is off to New York to battle the Mechanical Menaces…

Soon the screen will explode with the action of Polly on the street attempting to get the photo that will grace the cover of THE CHRONICLE, the newspaper for which she is their Star Reporter. SOON – Sky Captain will be fighting the giant robots while piloting his plane through the canyons of New York City! Can the Sky Captain’s P-40 WARHAWK succeed where the city’s defenses failed? Will Polly survive her suicidal insanity to get her precious story? All these questions and more will be answered in the thrilling first 15 minutes of….

T H E......W O R L D......O F......T O M O R R O W ! ! ! !

Yup, and if you tune in to the rest of the film, you’ll possibly visit Shangri-La, undersea adventures with gigantic robotic aquatic machines, lit TNT death traps, gargantuan flying fortresses beyond your S.H.I.E.L.D –laced dreams, amazing rayguns, genetic aberrations, two-headed brontosaurai and things that even I would never spoil. Who is TOTENKOPF? That’s the mystery behind it all… What evil genius is robbing the earth of it’s resources? Stealing the gigantic power generators beneath the very streets of this teeming metropolis we know as New York! The perils that await the Sky Captain and Polly are thrilling and chilling to be sure, but what about their smoldering past teeming with infidelities and betrayals? Oh, that too will thrill you.

I’m so there for this film. The L.A. Times described that the vast majority of this film is shot against blue screen, green screen and what not on a bare minimum of sets… The reason? Well, the film is GIGANTIC. Every location is huge, every enemy enormous. If you know your old serials, you know how miniatures were constantly used to enhance the scale of the thrills and chills, here they plan to digitally bring it all to life.

Depending on how it is all realized graphically – it could be fall on its face funky – or… if this Kerry Conran fella is the visionary that I’m hoping he is… hoping based upon how wonderful this script is… how literate it is with the time period and styles from then… Like that SNOW WHITE opening – the reason that’s the opening, I’m sure, is I’ve seen a photo of what Radio City Music Hall looked like when it was showing SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS – he’s using that as his references for the “reality” he’s creating for the film. Not only is Kerry Conran the writer and the director, but he’s also doing the Production Design. It seems to have some of the old Dream Quest / The Secret Lab guys on board to realize that CG, and they ruled back in the heydays of those companies.

Every 15 pages or so, the film has a cliffhanger, then picks up with a title card and shows you how they survived… or didn’t. I’m giddy about this flick. With Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie (as the one-eyed Captain Francesca Cook – essentially a female Han Solo type), Casey Affleck (as Dex the Sky Captain's all purpose scientific mastermind & buddy, that gets his ideas out of comics and pulps!) and the absolutely jaw-droppingly gorgeous Ling Bai as “the mysterious woman”… well, it’s got a great little cast – with many other parts still unknown. The great thing about it all is how effortlessly lived in the script feels. I mean, all these characters seem to have histories that we just pick up in the middle of, much like… oh, say Indy and Sallah’s relationship in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The film is alive with potential. Literally if nailed, it has the ambition to be a geek favorite for all time. As a failure, it’d be a glorious and tragic mistake that… “coulda been a contender…”

Whatever the case… We here at AICN have been woken up to the project and I’m thrilled. I had no idea that something this cool had gotten this far along. I wish all involved the absolute best luck, cuz the geek in me is screaming for this project to be perfect. I love that all involved are keeping the studios out of it, till they are finished. GREAT IDEA! This is the sort of particular vision that must be completed before many at the studios would get it. Personally, as a geek, I’d love to see this sucker picked up by New Line – cuz frankly I would just love to see them get this project. Of course, if it gets nailed, I can’t imagine DREAMWORKS passing on it, or UNIVERSAL or any other studio for that matter. This has the ability of completely and thoroughly recreating and re-imagining that “thrilling days of yesteryear” vibe into something retro, but something we’ve never seen done to perfection. This film takes RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK as a jumping pad and dreams so much bigger than any of Indiana Jones’ adventures ever dared to dream.

And I don’t know about you… But I’d love to see Gigolo Joe as the Hero of the new Millennia! Hehehehe…

A source sent me this photo of the extras uniforms from either the flying fortress sequence of the Sky Captain's HQ.

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