Pat Boone didn't want to make this film but was talked into it by his agent. Years later he stated he's glad he did it because of the regular residual checks it brings in and because it's the movie he'll probably be best remembered for.
James Mason reportedly had very little patience with the "movie star" preening of Arlene Dahl and the relationship between the two off set was very much like what you see on screen.
Fox gave the green light to this big-budget CinemaScope production partially on the basis of the success of the recent Jules Verne adaptations, Walt Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days (1956). As with those earlier films, the heavy cost proved to be a good investment, resulting in a big hit at the box office.
Count Saknussemm says: "I don't sleep. I hate those little slices of death." This is a variation of an Edgar Allan Poe quote: "Sleep, those little slices of death; Oh how I loathe them".
The "Dimetrodons" in the movie were played by a large type of lizard called a rhinoceros iguana. It is about 3-6 ft. long and is kept as a pet in many places. Dimetrodon in real life was a type of Synapsid reptile. It reached about 12 feet in size, and lived in Western North America.
The professor's name in the original novel (French language) was Otto Lidenbrock, a German. In the movie it was changed to Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scotsman. The name of his assistant Axel was Caledonized into Alec. (This was done because of historical hindsight, as 19th-century Scots had become known as the best field geologists, with Germans preferring lab-bound geology.) A more drastic change had already been made with the first (anonymous) English translation of the novel when the Professor's surname became Hartwig and Axel became an English student named Henry Lawson.
James Mason replaced an ailing Clifton Webb in the part of Professor Lindenbrook before filming began. Alexander Scourby started shooting at Carlsbad Caverns in the Count Saknussemm role, but the producers were unhappy with him and he was replaced with Thayer David.
Many of the people in the crowd scenes were students of Edinburgh University.
Gertrude the duck won a PATSY Award.
Filmation's Saturday morning cartoon Journey to the Center of the Earth (1967) was based on this film version rather than the original novel by Jules Verne and features several characters that were created for the 1959 film.
Arlene Dahl got along so famously with Gertrude II that they became inseparable.
In some European versions of the film, for example the Spanish dubbing, the "Prof of Geology's Song" was re-dubbed into the "Gaudeamus Igitur" song.
Each animal star needs several doubles so there were a total of four "Gertrudes".
Gertrude was supposed to be an Eider duck from Canada but Ralph Helfer couldn't get one into the United States because the USDA insisted that a permit be issued before one could enter so he decided to make his own Eider duck.
An additional song, "The Faithful Heart" by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen sung by Pat Boone was cut from the final print.
A miniature model of the lost Atlantis was used for the earthquake scene. The lava was probably oatmeal, similar to the lava in the 1960 film "The Time Machine".
The framed picture of a ship on the wall of Carla's equipment room is the "Sovereign of the Seas',a large British warship built in 1637.
While Alec is lost, he travels through awesome studio sets, well lit for dramatic effect. In reality, Alec's attempt to find his way back by the light of a single coil lamp would have been a deadly, nightmarish experience.