I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live
It's not really a war movie;the historical context remains vague but it does not matter for it is primarily a tragedy ;the kind of movie which grabs you and won't let you down till its very last minutes.
A submarine has been torpedoed and lays at the bottom of the sea ,110m (390ft) under the water and only one man will be able to get out of it;the captain and the leading seaman know that for the start but they decide they would tell the crew (and the other officer) only when the time came;the "rescue" would take place at dawn ;a long night begins.
The "harsh " "lupi" (=wolves) is thoroughly justified during the last part,because ,when they learn what terrible fate lay in store for them,many men want to be THE ONE,arguing they have a disabled child,a wife, a wealth that can help the others' families,one of them claims he is the youngest,he is only 20 and had only one night with his wife ;cowardice runs rampant and even the lieutenant tries to save his life ("I studied for 4 years,a life like mine is more important than those of the crew whose training only lasts three or four months.
The performances are uniformly good ,there's a terrific chemistry between the actors;Massimo Girotti is perhaps the stand out as the Christian captain who puts his faith in God :his last lines,taken from the Bible, are deeply moving,as the survivor emerges from the sea (you must not expect a happy end);he is ready to sacrifice his life as true captains always do,but he can't help breaking down when he sees the photographs of his son and daughter;the dignity of this man is incredible;Horst Frank ,too often cast as the villain in B movies,finds one of his two greatest parts (the other being "Tu Ne Tueras Point" by Autant-Lara):the evolution of the character is stunning :from the nice young man,talking tenderly of his beloved wife to the beast,eager to save his own life ;look at him before he goes mad:his sweet smile gives the jitters.
This is an absorbing movie,I second the first reviewer's opinion ,what a pity such a work has remained overlooked!