10 user 2 critic

16 Fathoms Deep (1948)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 25 July 1948 (USA)
In post-WW2 Florida, a former Navy diver is hired by Greek-American sponge divers who are at the mercy of a crooked sponge-exchange owner.


Irving Allen


Max Trell (screenplay), Forrest Judd (adaptation) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview:
Lon Chaney Jr. ... Mr. Demitri (as Lon Chaney)
Arthur Lake ... Pete
Lloyd Bridges ... Ray Douglas
Eric Feldary ... Alex
Tanis Chandler ... Simi
John Qualen ... Capt. Athos
Ian MacDonald ... Nick
Dickie Moore ... George
Harry Cheshire ... Uncle Mike
John Bleifer John Bleifer ... Capt. Briakos


Examines the dangerous business of snaring sponges on the ocean's floor that are sold via an auction exchange. Dimitri, the crooked-head of a Florida sponge-exchange, tries to prevent a boatload of valuable sponges from reaching port in time for the cargo to be sold at auction. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Adventure | Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 July 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

16 Stânjeni adâncime See more »

Filming Locations:

Rainbow Springs, Florida, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Irving Allen Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Anscocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Second movie Arthur Lake and Lon Chaney Jr did together. The other one was Girl O' My Dreams (1934) See more »


Version of Sixteen Fathoms Deep (1934) See more »

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User Reviews

Of greater interest to folks in the Tampa Bay area as well as for divers.
24 June 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

This film would appeal more to me than the average person. First, it's set in Tarpon Springs--a small town about 45 minutes from where I live. I've visited it several times, and it's a nice place for a day trip. It's also interesting to see what the town used to be like--before it became a tourism mecca. Second, it's about sponge divers--and I love scuba diving and enjoyed seeing the underwater shots (the fish actually appeared to be Florida fish--not some fish from a Hollywood aquarium).

"16 Fathoms Deep" is an odd little film, as it's about a group of guys working in the sponge diving industry. I really wish that the Netflix copy had been in color (it was originally a color film)--it would have been great to see the underwater shots in their vivid glory. Lloyd Bridges has recently mustered out of the US Navy and is looking for a job. Since he's an experienced diver, he travels to Tarpon Springs. However, he has some trouble getting hired on by the local big-shot (Lon Chaney, Jr.). But, when a young entrepreneur buys his own boat, he needs divers and Bridges is hired. Along for the ride is an inexplicable character--a bumbling Dagwood-like fellow played by Arthur Lake (who is also the film's producer). What none of them knows is that one of the crew is evil...pure evil. Or, at least he's looking to sabotage the boat. But why?! The film is shot semi-documentary in style. This means that Bridges narrated large portions of the film. Considering much of this was during the underwater scenes, it made sense. But in addition, the film takes a lot of time explaining about sponge diving--much like a documentary. It's really odd, then, that Arthur Lake is in the movie. His bumbling comic relief is incongruous with the rest of the film and he was not particularly good in the movie. Also, the way the death was handled as well as the unraveling of the mystery was poorly handled--it all happened too quickly and too matter-of-fact (long-time character actor John Qualen was NOT good in this role--he was too emotionally constricted). It should have been slower and more deliberate and seemed rushed. Overall, it's a film with a lot of problems but one I found worth my time--perhaps you will find it that way, too.

A few observations:

In the brief scene about Epiphany you see the young men diving along the lagoon to retrieve the cross tossed in by the Patriarch. This practice STILL occurs each year and it's a really big event (bringing in thousands of spectators). The only big difference is that the water isn't nearly so clear today--the result of a HUGE building boom in the Tampa Bay area over the last 60 years.

After this film, Bridges went on to star in the "Sea Hunt" TV series. You wonder if this movie led to Bridges interest in diving and the sea.

The young man in the film is played by Dickie Moore. Moore has over a hundred credits and was one of Hal Roach's Little Rascals--and a VERY popular child actor in the 30s (because he was so darn cute and talented).

If you visit the Tampa Bay area, try going to Tarpon Springs for a day. It's full of nice shops, LOTS of Greek food and you can either take a fishing trip or watch sponge divers. Not a bad little tourist trap that your family would probably enjoy.

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