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Naval commander Charles Sturm has made life miserable for his wife Diana due to his insane jealousy over every man she speaks to. His obsessive behavior soon drives her to the arms of a handsome lieutenant. When Charles learns of their affair, he plots revenge. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Bankhead made a handful of silent films before she became the rage of the London stage in the late 20s. Back in Hollywood, she made 7 films in 1931 and 1932. The Devil and the Deep was the penultimate one. She was not a success. It would be more than a decade before she would "face the cameras" again in 1944's brilliant Lifeboat for Alfred HItchcock.
The few of these early talkies I've seen have been fascinating because Bankhead was a STAR, and no one was quite like her. She had the allure of Garbo or Dietrich, but she was closer to Davis or Crawford or Constance Bennett in her temperament. In Faithless, Tarnished Lady, The Cheat, and Devil and the Deep she plays basically the same character: the woman who goes wrong but is saved in the end. Bankhead suffered in her 30s films from lousy directors. In Devil and the Deep, Marion Gering mis-directs by letting Charles Laughton ham it up as the husband, while Gary Cooper as the lover is boring. Bankhead holds center stage and is really very good in this VERY strange film.
It's a submarine movie set apparently in Algiers or some such place. She is the commander's bored wife. He's nuts. After her fling with Cary Grant (yes it's quite the cast), Laughton has him transferred. Cooper's fate is worse since they're all aboard the sub when all hell breaks loose.
Bankhead looks great in stylish clothing and slinks about the house and the club , the streets (amid whirling dervishes), and on the sub. Laughton is menacing and his final scene is memorable. But they're not a very believable couple. Cooper is oddly boring and is given awful lines to say. Grant, in a small part, is, well, Cary Grant. Paul Porcasi is the shop keeper, Henry Kolker and Juliette Compton are the catty club denizens. One problem is that the film is underlit so it's hard to see a lot of detail. Amusing scenes with Cooper and Bankhead staring up at the stars, buying cheap perfume, and buying a pool cue.
With a better director and better writers, this could have been a blockbuster. But it's neat to see Bankhead in her prime, before she became a campy professional star.
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