Combining elements of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island with a hokey backstory of revenge and a missing princess, this 1916 film manages to overcome its shortcomings to provide a pioneering cinematic experience. The underwater photography, filmed in New Providence Island in the Bahamas (the same location where the Disney version of the film would be shot 38 years later), was extraordinary for its time and must have been thrilling for an audience in 1916.
The film was directed by Stuart Paton, who had begun his career the year before and already had eleven short films and four full-length ones to his credit, and who is perhaps best known for 1931's Chinatown After Dark. Hetzel Effensachs directed the underwater sequences. Effensachs also directed the marine sequences in Battleship Potemkin (1925) and Captain Blood (1935), and was the marine coordinator on such films as Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Captains Courageous (1937), and The Buccaneer (1938)
The role of Nemo was played by veteran stage and film actor Allen Holubar. Shortly after this film was made, Holubar shifted gears and went to the opposite side of the camera with a solid career as a writer, director, and producer under his death at age 35 in 1923 following a gallstone operation.
Not much is known about Dan Hanlon, who played Professor Aronnax, the scientist who was rescued by Nemo and his submarine Nautilus; IMDB listed only three credits for him, all in the same year with this movie being the last. Hanlon died in 1951 at age 84. Little also is known about Edna Pendleton, who played Aronnax's daughter -- someone never mentioned in the original novel; Pendleton has seven credits on IMDB, again with this movie being the last.
The character of plucky Ned Land was eviscerated in this film and was played by Curtis Benton, who had a long career as a writer; his acting career ended in 1917, only to be taken up again in 1931 in usually uncredited roles as an announcer.
Jane Gail, who played duels roles as Princess Daaker and as "A Child of Nature" never made the transition from silent films. She is best known for her role as Dr. Jekyll's fiancé opposite King Baggot in 1913's Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.