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Hell Below (1933)

Passed  -  Romance | Drama | War  -  9 June 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 246 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 3 critic

On leave in Italy, Lt. Tommy Knowlton falls in love with Jean Standish, who's not only married, but is the daughter of his submarine's commander. Friction between the two officers becomes ... See full summary »



(adapted by), (adapted by), 3 more credits »
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Title: Hell Below (1933)

Hell Below (1933) on IMDb 6.6/10

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Complete credited cast:
Lieut. Thomas Knowlton USN
Lieut. Comdr. T.J. Toler USN
'Ptomaine' - Ships Cook
Mac Dougal - Chief Torpedo Man
Lieut. (JG) 'Brick' Walters
Edwin Styles ...
Herbert Standish - Flight Comdr.
John Lee Mahin ...
Lieut. (JG) 'Speed' Nelson
David Newell ...
Lieut. (JG) Radford
Seaman Jenks
Charles Irwin ...
Buck Teeth Sergeant


On leave in Italy, Lt. Tommy Knowlton falls in love with Jean Standish, who's not only married, but is the daughter of his submarine's commander. Friction between the two officers becomes intolerable once at sea and after Commander Toler is forced to abandon Tommy's best friend topside while the sub dives to escape enemy planes, Tommy is no longer able to contain his anger. Written by Chris Stone <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

love | submarine | italy | officer | u boat | See more »


Romance | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »




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Release Date:

9 June 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pigboats  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The print shown on TCM is the 1937 re-release, with some bits of 1933 dialogue obviously eliminated in order to meet the stricter standards of the now enforced 1934 production code. See more »


The clothing and hairstyles of Madge Evans and the rest of the female members of the cast, are all strictly in the 1933, not 1918 mode, despite the tremendous changes that had taken place in those fifteen intervening years. See more »


Ptomaine: [looking at a plus-sized Italian girl on a boat] What big eyes you have, Grandma!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dedicated to those officers and men of the United States Navy, who, in peace and war, volunteer their lives in one of the most hazardous branches of its service: submarines. See more »


Anchors Aweigh
(1906) (uncredited)
Music by Charles A. Zimmerman
Played during the opening credits
See more »

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User Reviews

Close and Cramped
28 November 2005 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I recommend that movie viewers if in the New York City area go to the Intrepid museum and get some idea of how closed in and cramped the living was for the crews of World War II vintage submarines. How much more so that must have been for the seamen during World War I. It must have truly been hell below.

Walter Huston and Robert Montgomery head the cast of Hell Below, Huston as the by the book captain and Montgomery as his free wheeling number two. They're both quite believable as Naval officers and the rest of the cast like Robert Young, Eugene Palette, Jimmy Durante, Madge Evans, Sterling Holloway, etc. fill their roles quite nicely.

The silent service got more popular during World War II and after. It's amazing, but I could name a whole slew of submarine pictures like Torpedo Run, Operation Pacific, Hellcats of the Navy, Run Silent, Run Deep and many more and you'll see the same plot situations in all of them. I guess there truly is a limit on situations as well.

Jimmy Durante's performance is interesting. He's pretty funny and his scene with the boxing kangaroo while on shore leave is very funny indeed. But I'd have to say a character like him in those cramped quarters is probably very necessary for morale. If you don't have someone like that to break the tension on board a submarine, you ought to get one transferred to your ship immediately.

The highlight for me however is Sterling Holloway's death scene. Very similar to Sean McClory's in Island in the Sky. It will haunt you long after you've seen this film.

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