The Enemy Below (1957)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1957Screenplay by , based on the novel by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by

Deep into the second World War, the USS Haynes traverses the Atlantic Ocean with Robert Mitchum as its captain when a German U-Boat led by is spotted on the destroyer’s radar.  Jurgens quickly realizes he’s been discovered and a battle of wits is initiated as these two strategize their way around each other.  They have what it takes to play a worthy game of cat and mouse, Mitchum was a merchant marine before the war and Jurgens served Germany on submarines in World War I, so anticipating each other’s moves won’t be a problem for either captain.  This low-key, minimalist action film directed by thirties musical star Dick Powell is notable for its lack of glorious manipulation, it goes back and forth between the two locations and allows each captain to make their move.  Excellent special effects place you out in the middle ocean on these two isolated worlds while intelligent writing makes the exchanges between characters feel real: for some this will be a liability, preferring their post-war dramas to be celebrations of American might, but the subtlety of the performances and editing make it something smooth and original.

Academy Award:  Best Special Effects

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