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|Index||90 reviews in total|
"The Enemy Below" released in 1957, was one of those films directed by
Dick Powell, and starring Robert Mitchum, that sparked with genuine
realism and utmost attention to detail. This film also showed the harsh
realities in war, and the dedication that men on both sides of the
conflict can give to the task appointed. Mitchum plays the commander of
a US Naval vessel that has the task of seeking out and destroying enemy
submarines; having just recently lost one command, he is going to make
sure such doesn't happen twice. The renowned German actor, Curt
Jurgens, portrays the submarine commander whose presence has been
detected by Mitchum's destroyer, and the chase is on.
Both commanders, Mitchum and Jurgens, in their characters, reveal that each was firm in their beliefs toward their respective countries. While Jurgens is not a gung-ho Nazi, he does have a firm dedication to his fatherland, and what it was before the war. Mitchum has the same firm devotion to his country, and what he is doing is the right course to bring a successful ending to the war, ultimately. There is a lot of verbal discussion during the course of the film, who is right, why are we engaged in this action, etc., but both commanders are desperately trying to out think and outmaneuver the other.
There were several good movies made during the 50s, this film, "The Enemy Below",and "Run Silent, Run Deep" come to mind, and are certainly worth a view. This film does give a look at both sides involved in the type of chase done here. An 8/10
What's really impressive about this movie is the photography. When you
see Robert Mitchum actually standing on the deck of a destroyer with
depth charges going off behind it, you know somebody went to a lot of
trouble to get all this on film. That destroyer is no movie set. You'll
find very few backdrops and special effects here except for underwater
shots of the enemy U-boat, and even those are above average. It all
seems ahead of its time somehow, the brilliant color footage, the
musical score, and the attention to detail.
The Enemy Below is a fascinating study of WW2 anti-submarine warfare. Although the ending is a little corny, the anti-war message is timeless and quite appropriate. Especially now (Oct. 2004) as America is being dragged into another real conflict. It's certainly worth a look.
Robert Mitchum is the new Captain of a destroyer on patrol in an area
of the South Atlantic where there will be little chance for any action,
or so the crew thinks. This is a new command for him, he lost his last
vessel and was 21 days on life raft. Mitchum though he was in the
merchant marine before World War II is as new to the navy as most of
Lurking beneath is Curt Jurgens in command of a U-Boat. Jurgens is a career navy man who's already given much for the fatherland, two sons lost. His submarine is on courier duty, not looking in fact for any combat.
But they find each other and The Enemy Below is about the cat and mouse game each of them play in trying to destroy the other.
With twelve years in between the end of World War II and the present it was now possible to portray Germans as three dimensional people, something rarely done during the war years. Jurgens at this time was a very big star on the European continent and was now getting roles that would introduce him to American audiences. He's very good as the professional, but tired U-Boat captain who just wants to get home.
He's matched all the way by Mitchum who's got a lot of doubts now having lost one ship already. The crew has some doubts too, but Mitchum proves worthy of the command he's been given.
The Enemy Below won the Academy Award that year for special effects. No ships in a tank, these are real vessels being used for this film.
Look for good performances by supporting players Theodore Bikel as the Executive Officer of the submarine, David Hedison as the Executive Officer of the destroyer and Russell Collins as the ship's doctor on the destroyer. You might note a small role for Doug McClure at the beginning of his career.
Have to agree with "bob the moo" on this one. I've seen it probably two
dozen times, and will see it many more, I'm sure. One of my favorite
"war" movies (w/Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens as destroyer and
submarine captains, respectively). My other faves are "Platoon," "Full
Metal Jacket," "Decision Before Dawn," (w/Oskar Werner and Richard
Basehart--most excellent!), and of course, Kubrick's "Paths of Glory,"
w/Kirk Douglas, Adoph Menjou and George MacReady.
More than a blood-and-guts war movie (though it has plenty of terrific action scenes), it's more of a man-vs-man "cat and mouse" story. Absolutely excellent direction (by Dick Powell) and some terrific cinematography. Terrific scene between Jurgens and Theodore Bikel (who plays his Exec. Officer), that is nothing but facial gestures and eyebrows.
A very "moral" tale, it shows that even sworn enemies serving their countries in wartime can show respect and compassion toward each other, especially since they're all men-of-the-sea: sailors. Conversations between Mitchum and his ship's doctor and between Jurgens and his exec officer mirror each other. Note the scene of the American sailors pulling the German sailors aboard their lifeboats near the end; Mitchum helping rescue the U-boat captain and his exec after ramming them.
Great tale, well-scripted, acted, directed and shot. An model of how to make a terrific story into a movie.
A test of cunning and courage between the commander of an American
destroyer (Robert Mitchum) and the captain of a german U-boat (Curt
The movie was one of the first to portray the enemy of WWII sympathetic.Jurgens made his American film debut after being a star in European films.Director Dick Powell (who had crooned in Warner musicals in the early 30s,and became a considerable actor in the part of Philip Marlowe during the War) injects the film with exciting pace and a clinical observation of men at war.There are no unnecessary heroics in this movie.
USS HAYNES, real name, WHITEHURST DE-634, in the opening scene as the
credits roll has weighed anchor and stood out from Trinidad that
morning and is well out to sea. Which means she's operating in the
Caribbean Sea Frontier Area.
A sailor heaves two buckets of garbage over the stern. If it was a "real" war situation let's just hope that there's nothing amongst the potato peelings, bottles, cans, etc, with USA stamped all over them. A U-boat captain on surface patrol would love nothing better than to scoop up garbage intelligence. A tip-off that allied ships maybe not far ahead? It's surprising what information can be gleaned from garbage.
There's curiosity among some crew members about the new captain, Murrell (Robert Mitchum). In the officer's wardroom someone stated that the XO, Lt Ware (David Hedison) should have been promoted to CO of HAYNES. Ware's only experience was sailing a yawl in the Miami yacht races in peacetime. Similar peacetime experience as Sub Lt Lockhart aboard COMPASS ROSE in "The Cruel Sea".
A possible U-boat contact appears on the radar screen. Murrel orders the bridge watch to get on the sub's tail and watch every course change he makes, and follow at the same speed. Camera shots now cutting between the pursuer and the pursued become interesting.
The U-boat captain, Von Stolberg (Curt Jergens), reminisces with Heinie Schaffer (Theodore Bikel), his second in command and old friend. "...but now it's, be a good warrior and never think, Heinie." They may be fighting for the New Germany; the Master Race. But there is a feeling of unease in Von Stolberg's heart and mind about the system. "Nothing good will come out of this war, win or lose. There's no honour in it. Memories will be ugly. We will die without God." Only Heinie is within earshot of the captain's opinions. He would probably not voice these opinions in front of Lt. Kunz, the officer aboard who struts and responds to orders, Nazi fashion. Von Stolberg shows silent contempt for the Master Race when on leaving the control room he drapes an oil-soaked towel over the Fuhrer's name which is stencilled on the overhead air conditioning trunk suspended over the chart table.
Captain Murrel again shows he's no slouch when he correctly calculates the time it will take for the submarine to dive, level to periscope depth, launch torpedoes, and running time to target. There are tense looking expressions on some of the crew's faces as Murrell presents HAYNES broadside on to the submarine at reduced speed. The tempting target suddenly turns hard to port; and shocked amazement is on the destroyer men's faces, all heads swivelling from left to right and eyes glued on the two torpedoes as they gurgle along the destroyer's starboard side and close aboard. Murrell proves his ability. He's as capable as the submerged opponent he's trying to destroy.
The U-boat goes deep after the depth charge attack and rests quietly on the sea bed. HAYNES heaves too right above her. Silence all round. A chess game is in progress in the sub's control room and Von Stolberg looks on with faintly amused contempt as Kunz buries his nose in a copy of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf". Aboard HAYNES a studious naval rating, probably a bookworm, is reading Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire". Heavier reading than "Mein Kampf", and about an empire that lasted a lot longer. The camera pans right to show a smiling commissioned officer reading a, "Little Orphan Annie" comic. It speaks volumes about the background mixture of men thrown together in times of conflict.
The U-boat gets his licks in at the Destroyer Escort with one torpedo out of a full spread. That one strike amidships at the ships's very vitals, its forward fire room, is all that is needed to finish her. With enough power remaining Murrell manages to close the distance with his surfaced opponent and strike the submarine forward of the conning tower.
Respectful courtesy is immediately apparent between the two captains as they sight each other for the first time. They salute, they have fought the good fight. In conflict courtesy between warriors like days of old comes to the fore. Men of both sides are mariners and, war or no war, the brotherhood of the sea rises to the surface. There are souls to be saved from this cruel sea, and hostilities take second place as deadly opponents become survivors and are hauled aboard the whaleboat.
Von Stolberg reading the burial lesson in German over the remains of Heinie Schaffer before committing him to the deep seems very appropriate. German dialogue throughout the film with English subtitles would have been distracting; spoiling the concentration.
The German side was given fair treatment. Something that has often been lacking over many years. The image of strutting bone-headed Nazi automatons often bordered on the ridiculous. Thankfully there was Only Kunz aboard the submarine who seemed to symbolise the Master Race.
Robert Mitchum turned in one of his best performances, as did Curt Jurgens, who incidentally, was interned in Germany in World War Two for not "embracing" the Nazi system. Dick Powell, a crooner in the thirties, an accomplished actor in the forties, proved himself as an accomplished director with this production.
On ramming U-boats? RN destroyer HESPERUS sliced U-357 in 1942. VISCOUNT, closing at 26 knots, finished off U-661, 1942. Lend Lease BUCKLEY class DE, HMS AYLMER dispatched U-1051. Other DE's CALDER, BENTNICK, and MANNERS, were in on the kill, January 1945. All ships survived. Ramming was officially discouraged in the Royal Navy because of damage incurred. Captains balled out in a gentle manner by higher authority. "Don't dare do it again!....Until next time. There's a good chap. And good hunting! And if that wasn't open-ended encouragement to do it again I don't know what was!
A US Destroyer plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with a German U-Boat
in the South Atlantic during World War Two.
Despite this film getting fairly regular screenings on UK TV over the years, I saw it for the first time in its entirity over the weekend. Considering the era in which it was made, I was pleasantly surprised by its straightforward story and solid production. Rather than have some superfluous romantic sub-plot dragging it down, it instead concentrates on the professionalism of those involved on both sides. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens portray the opposing Captains impressively as men who take no pleasure in the prospect of killing, but carry out their jobs to the best of their considerable abilities. The supporting cast include Theodore Bikel, David Hedison and a very young looking Doug McClure.
A combination of good technical credits, sure handed direction, good acting and a sympathetic depiction of the German crew ensure that the film holds up very well today. It may not be 'Das Boot' but its certainly entertaining.
The best feature of this movie is thorough character development, and good
action. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens are terrific as two similar
captains. The action is kept at a high level as they both one up each
tactical moves without losing the human element of the
They don't make many like these anymore.
This was a Great WWII DE versus Sub movie. One of the few movies that
actually used proper Navy voice procedure and a radar with no
I liked it better than "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Dos Boot", though I liked both.
An almost perfect Navy movie with the one exception of always returning to course 140. If one as ever navigated or plotted via radar, you know that if you've vectored off course , e.g. zigzagged for any length of time, to get back on your original course, it would not be the same exact 140 as it started.
I can't wait for this movie to be released on DVD and in Wide Screen.
In the middle of the Atlantic ocean, during the Second World War, two experienced sea veterans confront each other. The first is America naval Captain Murrell (Robert Mitchum) who has already seen his share of misery and tragedy. Lt. Ware (David Hedison) is his able second-in-command. Captain Murrells' wife was lost at sea when a German U-Boat sank the ship she was on. Now returning to duty, Murrell hides what feelings of revenge he has and attends to the task at hand. The second is an experienced German naval Officer named Von Stolberg (Curt Jurgens) who learned his considerable skills as an undersea commander in the First World War. His best friend and second in command is Heinie Schwaffer (Theodore Bikel). Both have good crews. This film called "The Enemy Below" is an honest portrayal of men at war, depicting the conflict from both prospectives. Neither side is given a 'Hollywood edge' and thus allows both sides to exemplify exceptional skill and steadfast fortitude. When Murrell and his Destroyer, confronts Von Stolberg and his Submarine, both discover they are up against an exceptional commander. As such, they display considerable expertise in trying to destroy one another. The consequence? The first to make a mistake will sink the other. The audience realizes this is what war is all about. ****
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