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This movie is pretty run of the mill under water sea adventure stuff , very typical of the era .The best scene however is in the tropical bar.Who ever chose or built the set did a great job.The bamboo theme, national geographic erotica style is unfortunately a thing of the past.Why the hell can't we have really cool bars like this to go to .At least a half decent joint where you can throw on a pair of old service chinos and a cool hawaiian shirt, drink rum colas and check out the dames!If anybody knows places like this let me know!
Two deep-sea salvage divers, Brad Carlton and Tony Bartlett, arrive in
Jamaica for a job. They are contracted to recover gold from a cargo ship
that has just gone down with all it's hands. They search the co-ordinates
they have been given but find nothing. Taking time off from the job, Brad
begins to fall for the captain of the ship they contracted and dreams of a
quieter life, while Tony is approached by the (supposedly dead) captain of
the sunken ship with the real co-ordinates and an offer of a cut of the gold
if he salvages it without telling the ship's owners.
The exotic location, the beat of voodoo drums, beautiful women, comradeship, sinister villains, what else could this be but a B-movie! Even the gaudy colours from the very start reveal this to be what it is. The plot is pure B but is still reasonably enjoyable. It is strongest at the start where Brad and Tony are together, whereas for the middle section they follow separate stories and the film sags a little bit. The ending is OK but seems to lack real excitement or tension. The central relationship between the two men is interesting when it is tested and I wish that the film had explored this more as it is, it appears to break and be mended in a matter of minutes without much detail.
The direction is on a par with the quality of the film. The underwater scenes are quite flat and are clearly as near to being in a real sea as I am right now. The limitations of whatever soundstage or tank they filmed them in means that the scenes all occur in small areas, which again takes the edge off a little too much. The setting of the film calls for an exotic feel but the majority of the cast are American (white) actors. Even in a scene where voodoo dancers dance round a fire it is clear that the skin of those involved is very pale, this is maybe to be expected from the period and in shows in the fact that the non-white support cast are credited with names like `half-caste woman'. It makes no difference to the quality but does make it feel a little fake.
The main drawing point for the film is the strength of the two leads, although this is diminished by their separation in the middle section. Quinn is larger than life and a fiery character, he hogs the attention and the only weakness is that he fails to bring out the complexity that he suggests in his character when it is needed (the final third). Ryan is a talented actor and underplays next to Quinn. His presence alone kept me watching although it is undeniable that this is below the quality of his most memorable work. The support cast are OK and fit the B movie billing much better. So in place of characters we get `feisty girl' `bloated villain' `pathetic crooked businessman' etc. They all do OK and never forget their station.
Overall this is a watchable B movie that has all the little touches that make it such. The plot could have been used a lot more effectively in regards the friendship of the two divers but it is watchable nonetheless mainly due to good performances by both Quinn and Ryan.
Genuine chemistry between Ryan and Powers lifts this a notch above fodder. But what happened to Susan Ball, her performance is almost not there. The camaraderie between Ryan and Quinn is the crux of the story, and unfortunately it doesn't work. There is a fun underwater earthquake that topples the "city", but spectacular it ain't. George Matthews makes a very sleazy villain.
City Beneath the Sea came on BBC2 one Saturday afternoon some years ago
and I was pleased I taped it. This has never been released on video so
I was glad I kept this TV copy.
Two divers come to Jamaca to recover some gold on a sunken ship off the coast. One evening, they visit a club and meet two girls and both subsequently fall in love with them. Rivalry then breaks out between the two men over who will keep the gold when retrieved. The ship sunk near the ruins of an underwater city (not Atlantis) and the locals are against the men recovering the gold because the city is one of their tabu's. Not surprisingly, danger looms when the city collapses as a result of an undersea earthquake, trapping one of the divers. He is rescued by his mate and neither of them get the gold in the end.
Despite being a bow budget movie, the underwater scenes in City Beneath the Sea are not that bad.
The cast includes Robert Ryan and Anthony Quinn as the divers and Mala Powers and Susan Ball as the love interests. This also stars George Mathews and Woody Strode.
Watching this movie is a good way to spend just under 90 minutes one afternoon or evening. Very enjoyable.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Universal-International studios. Two tough American buddies (Robert Ryan,
Anthony Quinn). Sunken treasure off the Caribbean. Plots about scuttled
ships and sunken gold. A thuggish sea-captain. Giant squids. A
bar-room brawl. Even voodoo drums. Tacky colour. You can almost picture
the lurid cover of the 10-cent paperback novel the film was based on. All
that's lacking is a real femme fatale.
Bud Boetticher was a cult director in the Don Siegel/Sam Fuller vein, later acclaimed for the series of sparse but superb western quickies he made in the late 1950s with actor Randolph Scott (Ride Lonesome, The Tall T, Westbound, etc).
Irresistible and well made.
OK adventure story about two soused divers who latch onto the
whereabouts of a bunch of gold buried somewhere under the ocean.
Bob Ryan and Tony Quinn go through the paces with their respective love interests, Mala Powers and Suzan Ball. Not bad for this kind of Saturday afternoon entertainment. Suzan Ball passed away at a very young age. When Suzan fell deathly ill, her husband at the time, actor Richard Long ('Jarod' on The Big Valley TV show), reportedly stayed at her bedside for long hours until, in her delirium right before she died, Suzan uttered "Tony!".... (Quinn). This upset Long to no end... (how awkward).
Good 1950's treasure-hunting film. Suzan sings in a nightclub followed by a big bar fight. Mala is hot in her swimsuit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Though competently directed by the currently "in" idol, Budd Boetticher, this is a fairly routine adventure/romance. Robert Ryan seems miscast as a laconic, two-fisted (thanks to a double in his fight scenes) hero, but Anthony Quinn is even less sympathetic as his greedy partner. The girls, Mala Powers and Suzan Ball, seem determined to be picture postcard pretty, but little else. In fact, nearly everyone's clothes in this seedy outpost in the West Indies are always remarkably clean and shiny. However, as usual, it's the villains who come off best in both writing and acting. Indeed it's George Mathews who ascends to the top spot in his Hollywood career as the ex-captain Meade. And Technicolor is also cleverly utilized (by cinematographer Charles P. Boyle) to give "A" stature to a basically "B"-budget picture.
CITY BENEATH THE SEA lacks the complexity of Budd Boetticher's "best" work (his later "Ranown" westerns, the earlier THE BULLFIGHTER AND THE LADY), but it's highly sweet-smelling trash, with great wise guy performances by Robert Ryan and Anthony Quinn. Filled with almost as many double entendres as the most eyebrow-raising Sam Fuller works of the same period, it succeeds as pure entertainment even if you don't care a whit about the so-called plot (a race to discover sunken treasure amidst voodoo spells, wild dames and Technicolor Jamaican scenery). Good supporting performances by Mala Powers and Karel Stepanek, crackling dialogue and bizarre underwater scenes (part matte, part miniature, part studio tank). Don't expect RIDE LONESOME or SEVEN MEN FROM NOW and you'll find plenty to enjoy.
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