Underwater! (1955) Poster


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The figure and natural wonders of Jane Russell in her last film for Howard Hughes...
Nazi_Fighter_David30 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
"Underwater!" is a routine treasure-search adventure with Jane Russell (Theresa) in love with Richard Egan (Johnny) diving with him and with Dominic (Gilbert Roland), his best friend, in the deep blue water of the Caribbean looking for bars of gold lost in the wreck of a Spanish sailing ship...

The essential point of the film is not the legendary treasure shared in part with an unscrupulous 'bandido' named Rico (Joseph Calleia) but a nice shot worth to be remembered: Jane Russell in her distinctive particular one-piece red bathing-suit moving underwater in front Sturges' camera...

With a great Latin music score, and the blessing of Father Cannon (Robert Keith) for winning his gold cross, and with Lori Nelson (Gloria), the owner of the beautiful boat in love with Dominic, the film photographed in SuperScope and Technicolor, imparts a special Latin flavor, serving one and only purpose, the figure and the natural wonders of Jane Russell in her last film for Howard Hughes...

Ironically another pin-up girl, and another 'Jane' was about to be born, the screen goddess Jayne Mansfield.
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Pioneer Movie
arturo-2715 October 2005
I enjoy this movie very much and try to watch it periodically. As someone who took up SCUBA diving the year before this movie was made, I'd like to call attention to the fact that it is the first full length feature movie in which SCUBA was used. In fact, it was so early in the development of equipment that the tanks that they were using were smaller than the 72 cubic foot tanks that became standard for steel tanks.(There were other sizes.) Also, note the two hose regulators that are all but obsolete, the early flipper designs, and the primitive back packs. To some, the story may seem a little corny, but so were early aviation pictures and early submarine pictures. This considered, I think that the movie deserves look.
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The sunken treasure
jotix1004 January 2006
Howard Hughes was a producer that had a lot of talent for discovering beautiful women that went on to have better careers with other vehicles than the ones he decided to create for them. That seems to be the case of this John Sturges' 1955 film "Underwater!" in which the curvaceous Jane Russell starred for the last time for Howard Hughes.

The film is a curious one. We are introduced to Johnny and Dominic, two underwater divers who are searching for those sunken ships in the Caribbean, especially this one, not too far from Cuba. As they stumble into the old Spanish galleon, they find a man that appears to be a sort of pirate awaiting for them because it's obvious they are after those treasures.

As Johnny and Dominic go back to Cuba, we are introduced to Theresa, Johnny's wife, who is dead set against spending money chasing his dreams. But when Dominic meets Gloria, by chance, she tells him about the yacht she has been left with by a departing old flame. So the four friends, and a priest who knows about those sunk ships, go in search of the riches trapped underwater.

The film doesn't bring anything new to this film genre. In fact, it's pretty tame stuff we see in a predictable story we know how it will end. The best reward for the viewers of "Underwater" is the beautiful Jane Russell at her best. She was one of the sultriest women working in films during those days. The problem is the male stars who give by the numbers performances. Joseph Calleia is the only one that shows any spunk as the man who wants the riches from under the sea.
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...oops....not that I was looking for this, but..
macknife-215 October 2006
...about 10 minutes before the end of this fun movie, the lead actors are struggling underwater, when all of a sudden Richard Egan (..or his stunt double) reaches across the front of Jane Russell (..or HER stunt double) to free her from some impeding disaster, and as he pulls away his hand he pulls down her bathing suit ever so briefly and exposes the right nipple...

THIS is what HDTV wide screen technology can do..stuff that got by the editors years ago is now there for detailed and easy to see review.....DVDs make it even easier, but you have to catch UNDERWATER on cable..(..of course you can Tivo it and freeze frame whatever...)
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Classic Film For 1955
whpratt116 October 2005
This was the last picture that Howard Hughes, Executive Producer, would produce with Jane Russell. Howard produced "The Outlaw" with Russell years ago and it was a big success because it was baned by many Christian churches, because too much cleveage was exposed by Jane R. In this film, Jane Russell,(Theresa Gray),"Young Widow",'46, appears mostly in a bathing suit and shows off her body in all the right places and was the wife of Richard Egan,(Johnny Gray),"Untamed",'55, who had a great addiction to trying to find treasure and was down on his luck and just got married; so he was looking for a big find. Gilbert Roland, (Dominic),"Sonora",69 was also a skilled diver who also desired to find sunken riches from the deep coral reefs. Lori Nelson,(Gloria),"The Naked Monster",'05, was a cute petite blond friend of Dominic and played a rather dumb role. In 1955, scuba diving was a new feature and underwater films were of great interest to the public. There even was a priest who went along on the boat, who had great interest in religious relics that had sunken into the sea. There is some exciting scenes which captured the audiences of the 50's; it is truly a great Classic Film.
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no sunken chests here!
ptb-816 February 2004
Screened recently in national television in Australia, and on a Saturday afternoon so all 19 million of us could goggle at it in the daytime, the press release for the TV week magazine exclaimed: No Sunken treasure for Gilbert Roland, but oh boy, check Jane's sea Chest!.....now how could anyone miss that. Not ever seen in 3D here we have had to make do with that. Snazzy cossies and bubbling romance, this sensational lung stretcher cost as much as A STAR IS BORN but hasn't endured like Judy did. Jane is as gorgeous as ever and the film is fish tank pretty. Watch it and love it. No wonder poor RKO went bust too.
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Treasure Hunting With Dick And Jane
bkoganbing19 June 2010
Underwater was allegedly set in Cuba, but actually photographed on the Kona Coast of Hawaii, was the last time that Jane Russell worked for Howard Hughes. The mysterious industrialist would shortly be getting rid of RKO Studios and RKO itself would shortly go Underwater after that.

The site of Jane Russell even in a conservative one piece bathing suit was enough to delight the male members of the audience with those twin weapons of mass destruction Jane sported. But if you got around to listening to Jane she drifted in and out of an atrocious Spanish accent. There was no reason to cast her as Hispanic so why she was will remain a mystery.

Like his aerial films Howard Hughes took some really good care with the lavish Underwater photography and it remains the best feature of Underwater, even though the stuff photographed on Kona was supplemented by scenes done in a large tank.

All that though just to tell a rather routine tale of four treasure hunters, Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Gilbert Roland, and Lori Nelson who hunt for and discover an ancient Spanish Galleon loaded with gold bars. But also on board is a solid gold larger than life size statue of Jesus also adorned in jewels that was lost at sea to the Roman Catholic Church. Along for the ride is Jesuit scholar Robert Keith.

The four and Keith also run afoul of shark hunters/smugglers/pirates led by Joseph Calleia. How the plot resolves itself frankly borders on the ridiculous.

But the Underwater photography and the Jane photography make Underwater worthwhile viewing.
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What about the time you tried to corner the avocado market!
sol21 June 2006
**MINOR SPOILERS** Midly entertaining sunken treasure adventure movie that's only kept afloat by it's star Jane Russell, Theresa Gray, who's constantly competing in the movie with the breath-taking Caribbean scenery off the coast of Cuba. Finding some underwater artifacts that suggest their from a Spanish Man of War it's decided by the sunken-ship treasure hunters Johnny & Dom, Richard Egan & Gilbert Roland, to get a bigger boat to go back out at sea to recover the hundreds of gold bars and box-loads of priceless gems submerged there.

It takes a while for Johnny to first get his wife Thereas to go along with his, what seemed to her, water logged plan. It's then that Lady Luck struck him and Dom when looking to rent a 50 foot boat from this guy Robinson they finds that he checked out of town and left his boat over to his totally land-locked minded young secretary Gloria, Lori Nelson, who's more then willing to let the two treasure hunters use it.

There's a number of unexpected event happen to the quintet with a local padre Father Cannon ,Robert Keith, coming on board who's only interested in recovering a life size solid gold Virgin Mary statue studded with diamonds to be returned to her rightful owners in the little church in Panama where she originally came from. Later there's this boat-load of shark hunters headed by the scuzzy-looking Rico, Joseph Caileia,looking for garbage from John's boat to use as bait to attract the underwater predators. Rico smells a rat, or a gold bar, when John tells him he and Dom are only looking for underwater rocks to be studied by the professors and students at Havana University.

The movie "Underwater" comes to it's very predictable conclusion when after reaching the underwater sunken treasure site Johnny is left by himself with Dom suffering from the bends. It's then when we finally get to see Theresa or actress Jane Russell, who we earlier briefly saw in a swimsuit, put on her bathing suit and dive underwater to help and possible save her husband, Johnny, from either drowning or getting eaten up by sharks. Theresa for all her efforts gets stuck in the sunken ships wreckage where we then have Johnny making it back to the boat to get her an extra oxygen tank. You wonder why all this was really necessary when Theresa has those two giant natural air supply tanks that can easily keep Theresa breathing for at least a week!

With Johnny and Theresa as well as Dom who heroically came to both their aid, risking his life doing it, back on the boat their again confronted by the shark-hunters who were disarmed and left on shore by Johnny & Dom just a while earlier. We then have another boring battle between them and Johnny & Dom which ends with everybody shaking hands and becoming friends> This happens when one of the shark hunters got very religious, which quickly affected the rest of his crew-mates, over the the fact that all this violence was over a golden statue of the Virgin Mary the mother of the Prince of Peace!

Nothing that you wouldn't expect or want in a movie like "Underwater", except hoping to see a lot more of Jane Russell in a tight swimsuit, with a happy ending without anyone in the film getting killed. With the most seriously injury among the cast being that they got a bit wet under and between the ears and,in the case of Dom, a very bad case of the Caribbean cramps.
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Fun with Dick and Jane
wes-connors24 June 2011
Full-figured Jane Russell (as Theresa), her skin-diving husband Richard Egan (as Johnny), and his Cuban partner Gilbert Roland (as Dominic) search for treasure in the Caribbean. They find a shipwreck, shark, and others interested in the booty. Early in the running time, listen for Perez Prado's mega-hit instrumental "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White". This Howard Hughes production unabashedly showcased the chests and legs of its co-stars; other than the obvious, note how the Ms. Russell's legs are made visible while under the ship's table and Mr. Egan's shirt blows open in the breeze, for a loving camera. The "Underwater!" climax (and Russell cleavage) is routine, but it does not bore.

***** Underwater! (2/9/55) John Sturges ~ Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Gilbert Roland, Lori Nelson
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Great Underwater Adventure of Treasure Hunters
Claudio Carvalho16 November 2012
The scuba diver partners Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) and Johnny Gray (Richard Egan) are treasure hunters that are seeking for sunken treasures in the Caribean waters. When they find evidences of the Seventeenth Century galleon Santo Bello in the bottom of the sea, they raise money and an adequate boat and they sail to the spot with Johnny's wife Theresa Gray (Jane Russell), the boat's owner Gloria (Lori Nelson) and Father Cannon (Robert Keith), who is an archaeologist, to recover the treasure.

They find the galleon located in a dangerous location on the edge of a cliff and they use a winch to try to hold it in position. Meanwhile they feel threatened by greedy shark hunters but they leave them in an island. When Theresa is trapped in the debris of the sunken vessel, Johnny and Dominic have difficulties to rescue her. But when they return to they vessel, they have a surprise.

"Underwater!" is a naive popcorn movie with a great adventure of treasure hunters. The attractions of this film are basically the underwater filming and Jane Russell, but it is entertaining in a rainy afternoon on DVD. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Alforje do Diabo" ("The Devil's Saddlebag")
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Colour or B&W ?
esmorr18 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I taped this film one day recently when I came across it on TV. The interesting thing is that the version I saw was b&w, and when I looked at the intro credits it said 'color by Technicolor'! Then I looked it up on this site, and I found that it was released in colour, but no mention of a b&w version!

I enjoyed the film, but I was thinking all the time how much better it would be in colour. The underwater scenery would be even more fantastic! Love the music, it's really catchy with a great beat, and the storyline isn't bad. I always enjoy the films from this era, and this is no disappointment. Now I'm looking out for the colour version!
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Doesn't deserve an exclamation point.
Hermit C-224 October 1999
Leonard Maltin got this one right, I'm afraid. It's standard fare all the way through. Richard Egan and Gilbert Roland searching for lost treasure don't create much excitement, even with Jane Russell and Lori Nelson along for the ride. Ms. Russell briefly displays a Latin accent which goes in and out, mostly out. If you could never get enough of the old TV series 'Sea Hunt' this might be your thing but otherwise it's strictly take it or leave it.
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Not quite deep enough!
Juha Hämäläinen11 May 2007
This was the first film seen in theaters as a widescreen presentation in Finland in the fifties. So much for the film history, because the video version I saw was in 1.33:1 format leaving a lot of the visual underwater spectaculars out of the picture. Not that it might have helped much the otherwise lackluster presentation. The underwater photography of scavenging a sunken treasure does look great and very well done for its time. But above the surface there are the all too static scenes made in a studio with painted skies and wind machines. The dialog and acting are stiff and more like posing instead of running smoothly along the story. Not that the plot is much of a help either. A bit more care for the script would have been needed for a working balance next to the well executed underwater scenes and such ambitious plans for marketing tricks like underwater screenings with aqualungs for the press. The whole story is very slow moving and largely without excitement until the final fifteen minutes. Only then is the movie finally able to fill some of the expectations that have been promised all along with claustrophobic mood, shark danger and Jane Russell stuck in a favorable position in open red swimming suit. John Sturges was usually a very capable director, but this time his skills have probably been too tied under the command of the producer Howard Hughes. I'm sure they didn't really mean the whole movie to sink like that.
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aspect ratio
gooey212 March 2006
Why is this film never shown --even on Turner Classics-- in its original aspect ratio? I believe it was the first RKO widescreen film. The pan and scan version makes all the underwater photography look murky and that had been the movie's big allure, along with Jane Russell of course. But I have noticed, especially on Fox Movie Channel, that some widescreen films are never shown in widescreen. Others are. Perhaps the original prints are rotting in a can somewhere. SKY DIVERS, a movie with James Coburn and filmed in Greece is another example of one never shown in all its original glory. Both of these films' experience would be greatly enhanced by full view of the scenery.
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Not very buoyant...
moonspinner5515 October 2006
Skin-divers Richard Egan and Gilbert Roland scour the depths of the Caribbean looking for treasure; they eventually find it buried under the sea with the wreck of a sunken ship (teetering on the edge of an underwater cliff). Howard Hughes-produced adventure from R.K.O. unevenly divides its time between on-location footage and studio shots (occasionally occupying the same scene) for a strangely dislocating visual experience. Jane Russell received top billing playing Egan's wife, and she's not bad except that her accent (perhaps laid on for a colorful, comical effect) slips in and out of Frito Bandito territory. The cast looks great in their swim-wear, but the story is without much suspense. *1/2 from ****
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Jane Russell swimming.....need we say more?
lotus0710 August 2007
SYNOPSIS: Two couples search for sunken gold in the Caribbean in the mid-1950s

CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER: Escapism. I suppose that once you graduated from Beach Blanket Bingo and started drinking rum and coke instead of Soda Pop Ricky's, you started watching films such as this. More of a travelogue for snow bound Midwesterners in Detroit and Minot, it shows a lot of tropical settings and Jane Russell.

PROS AND CONS: This isn't a great film, but it is an interesting window into the past. The primary reason for watching is Jane Russell. One of those actresses that could ooze a lot of sex appeal without taking off a lot of clothes. She captures the audience in any scene she is in. Richard Egan as her husband, is one of those 1950s stereotype leading men, chiseled jaw, deep voice, good looking, rugged (probably gay). American virtue is on full display in this film. Love, honor, sharing, fairness, and no heavy plot twists or dark secrets. Everything is pretty much superficial.

By today's standards this isn't good film making. Whenever there is a real change, there is noticeable fading at the ends and beginning of the reels (bad film to digital transfer?). Often times there are tint or lighting changes in the same scene when there is an edit. I loved the yacht that serves as their base for scuba diving in the film. On the outside it is a small slope that could probably sleep four adults. But the interior shots of the boat show it to be as big as the Queen Mary with 10 foot high ceilings. There is a lot of travelogue footage of sailboats at sunset, and underwater scenes with bubbles and sharks, which take up about 1/4 of the film. An obligatory dance scene in a dance bar with a smokin hot Latin band. All the usual stuff to make the folks in Peoria wish they were somewhere else in November 1958. An interesting look back to a simpler time, when things weren't to complex.
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morrison-dylan-fan22 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Finding the RKO Adventure Comedy The Tuttles of Tahiti to be far better than expected,I started hoping that the BBC would show other similar films. Taking a look at BBC iPlayer listings,I was pleased to see an RKO sea life adventure epic,which led to me jumping in the ocean with Jane Russell.

The plot:

Splashing their cash to go on a boat to go in search for sunken treasure in the Caribbean,Johnny and his friend Dominic take their partners Theresa and Gloria along,with priest Father Cannon joining them at the last moment. Diving under the sea, Dominic and Johnny are thrilled to find a ship wreck which appears to contain priceless items. Coming back up from the ocean,Johnny and Dominic discover that a both filled with shady locals have taken an interest in their activities.

View on the film:

Going under the sea in scuba gear wearing a sexy figure-hugging red dress, Jane Russell gives a charismatic performance for her final RKO production,with Russell hitting the cheerful Adventure targets that the movie aims for. Stuck with re-writing the original screenplay by Hugh King & Robert B. Bailey,writer Walter Newman layers a new plot outline in extended narration sequences played over the scuba diving,which despite taking place during a "wet" activity,come off as rather dry.

Breaking the waves above land,Newman gives the group a neat Adventure tale,which rides on light comedic flirting and a slick desire between Johnny and Dominic to explore the depths of the deep blue sea,which is disappointingly pulled down by the plodding added narration. Losing a huge amount of footage and cameras left in a barge and shooting during the storm seasons,director John Sturges and cinematographer Harry J. Wild are impressively still able to set sail for an enjoyable Adventure. Taking place a good amount of time under water,Sturges and Wild give the scuba diving an impressive crisp atmosphere,where smooth side shots allow the viewer to clearly see the cast underwater and also to spot the shiny treasure in the underwater world.
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The "slip"
heystevesteinberg17 April 2007
I saw this movie, the first time, in NYC at one of the big screen palaces, as a child. I remember distinctly my father calling one of his friends afterward and telling him he HAD to go see this movie because near the end, you got to see Jane Russell's bare breast for an instant. 50 years later, watching this on Turner Classic Movies, I saw he was right. However, it may have been Ms. Russell's stunt double, as I'd read she'd used one during the diving scenes. Yes, I did TiVo it and yes, Egan clearly exposed her nipple for a second. Subliminal? I bet the editor and director, on the Moveola machine DID know this and left it in!
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Prismark1026 November 2016
Underwater is a soggy adventure story with personable characters, little tension or plot and some nice underwater photography in colour even though some of the underwater scenes go on for too long. At the time such scenes would had been a gimmick.

Johnny Gray (Richard Egan) and his Cuban business partner Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) think they have made a discovery of a valuable wreck although Dominic might had sugared the pill a little. They pretend to be scientists collecting rocks to a nosy shark hunter to put him off the scent.

They get some funds, equipment and a boat together and return this time with Johnny's wife Theresa (Jane Russell) Gloria (Lori Nelson) and a knowledgeable priest Father Cannon (Robert Keith) who thinks that the boat they discovered escorted a bigger ship carrying a valuable religious artefact which sank.

As they look for the treasure Johnny and Dominic know that they need to keep one step ahead of the nosy shark hunter and his crew who are always nearby in shark infested waters.

The film really is by the numbers, in fact it is padded with the underwater scenes and Jane Russell in various bathing suits. The soundtrack features music to the song 'Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White.'

Egan is wooden, Roland is charismatic. Russell and Nelson are easy on the eye.
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What Gold Can Do to Men's Souls
James Hitchcock1 November 2013
Johnny Gray, his wife Teresa, his friend Dominic Quesada and Dominic's girlfriend Gloria (who just happens to own a boat) are on a diving expedition off the coast of Cuba, searching for sunken treasure. (Teresa is supposed to be Cuban, and some of her dialogue is in Spanish, but Jane Russell does not attempt a foreign accent in her English-language dialogue). In particular, they have dreams of finding a 17th century ship containing a life size solid gold Madonna with precious jewels. They realise, however, that even after they have found the wreck, they will have to face many perils before they can recover the treasure. They also discover that they face competition from a group of local shark fisherman who are suspicious about their activities and who refuse to be fobbed off with their story that they are merely geologists collecting samples.

The film was directed by John Sturges, a director whose work could vary in quality but who at his best was responsible for some of the great classics of the fifties and sixties such as "Bad Day at Black Rock", "Gunfight at the OK Corral" and "The Great Escape". "Underwater!" is not really in the same class as any of those great films. One of its main weaknesses is the casting of Richard Egan, a rather stiff actor more notable for his impressive physique than for his acting talents, in the leading role of Johnny. As Johnny is a complex character, not a mere action hero, the film would have been better with a stronger actor in this part. The rest of the cast are rather better, although I suspect that a lot of the film's appeal, at least for male viewers, was the chance to see Jane Russell showing off her own equally impressive physique in a swimsuit.

Overall, however, "Underwater!" holds up pretty well today. On one level it is an exciting adventure story, in which the treasure-hunters have to battle sharks, moray eels and other underwater dangers. (In this respect it is far superior to something like "The Deep" which attempted to tell a roughly similar story some two decades later). A film shot underwater must have been something new and original in 1955; these scenes were not actually shot under the sea but in a specially constructed tank. On another level, however, it is a parable along the lines of "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" about what gold can do to men's souls, although it does not have quite the dramatic power of John Huston's masterpiece and lacks its tragic ending. Johnny becomes obsessed with the quest for the statue to such an extent that he is quite prepared to sacrifice his own life, or the lives of his companions, to find it. In the conflict with the fishermen it is Johnny who is the aggressor. It is notable that the cast includes a Catholic priest who acts as a sort of moral compass for the rest. These two layers of meaning help to keep the film watchable nearly sixty years after it was made. A bonus is the attractive musical score based around the popular hit tune "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White". 6/10
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