Synopsis by Hal Erickson
This Emmy-winning episode of the TV anthology Disneyland was a blatant but entertaining plug for Walt Disney's newest live-action feature Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Host-producer Walt Disney explains that the film's gestation wasn't easy, then proceeds to illustrate his thesis with an extended underwater sequence, filmed in the Bahamas. Here it is shown that the director, actors and technicians managed to spend 12,000 man-hours beneath the waves during shooting, despite their archaic-looking diving costumes, severe limits to their stamina, and experimentation with new and untested filming techniques. Throughout, candid shots of the film's stars James Mason, Kirk Douglas and Peter Lorre are juxtaposed with glimpses of genuine sea life. Also included is a sprightly animated sequence, specially filmed for this episode, showing Man's efforts to explore the world of the sea. Operation Undersea was narrated, cowritten and codirected by Winston Hibler, a fixture of Disney's "True-Life Adventure" short-subject series.