Having placed mines on the hull of a British warship whilst it is safe in harbour during the second World War, the two man crew of an Italian miniature submarine are captured and held prisoner whilst the crew try and discover the nature of their mission!Written by
After the capitulation of Italy, de la Penne went to fight on the British side of the underwater war. When in March 1945 he was being presented with the Italian equivalent of the VC for his role in the attack on the "Valiant", Captain (by then Admiral) Morgan was present at the ceremony, and himself pinned the medal onto the man who had once been his enemy. See more »
In the film, the Italians are seen to be given away by the bubbles rising from their breathing apparatus; during the war, the Italian frogmen used pure oxygen 'pendulum' breathing sets, in which exhaled gas is returned to the tank via a carbon dioxide filter, rather than the compressed-air apparatus used in peacetime - precisely in order to avoid the problem of a tell-tale string of bubbles. See more »
This was one of a number of Italian WWII-set collaborations with English-speaking countries, a couple of which I watched recently namely THE CAPTIVE CITY (1962) and TORPEDO BAY (1963). While the handling is fairly dull, the film's main plot develops into a sustained suspense situation as a British vessel (commandeered by stiff-upper-lipped John Mills) is planted with explosive charges by Italian naval officer Ettore Manni and his (wounded) companion, who are then imprisoned on the ship itself after refusing to give details of their mission including the whereabouts of the bomb itself.
An underwater search at night fails to reap the desired results and Mills with the help of officer Robert Shaw (who's married to an Italian girl) determines to retrieve the necessary information which could save the ship and the life of more than a thousand men on it. Doctor Liam Redmond opposes his treatment of the P.O.W.s, but remains on board to cure the injured man even after the vessel has been evacuated. The explosion eventually occurs early the next morning when the ship was scheduled to set sail for war duty; the film, then, ends with Mills awarding Manni for his integrity and loyalty to his cause three years after the fact.
As I said, the film is generally interesting (like the same director's DON'T BOTHER TO KNOCK , it's mostly confined to a single setting) though the interrogation/confrontation scenes do get repetitive; it's also bogged down by resistible comic relief provided by two marines appointed to guard the saboteurs.
P.S. I'd love to revisit Mills' previous effort with Baker (in all, they worked six times together) i.e. the eccentric psychological Western THE SINGER NOT THE SONG (1961) which I acquired some time ago.
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