Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Underwater! (1955)

Director: John Sturges

Writers: Walter Newman, Hugh King, Robert B. Bailey

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Jane Russell, Gilbert Roland, Richard Egan, Lori Nelson, Robert Keith, Joseph Calleia, Eugene Iglesias, Ric Roman, Damaso Perez Prado, Dan Bernaducci, Robert Polo

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Jane Russell as you've never seen her before

Plot: Dominic Quesada and Johnny Gray, two SCUBA divers searching for sunken treasure off the coast of Cuba, think they've hit the jackpot when they find a 17th century ship on the sea floor. They need working capital however and Johnny is ready to hock his boat but his wife Theresa thinks they're off on another wild scheme that will leave them all poorer than when they started. She comes around however and are soon joined by Gloria, whose boat they will use and Father Cannon, a university professor and archaeologist. Although Dominic hasn't been completely honest with his partners, they may in fact be in the area of a major treasure ship. When they do find it, the ship is teetering on the edge of a 300 foot cliff and dangerous for even the most experienced divers.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Did I just see a...?

I mean is that what I think it is?

Do my eyes deceive me?

Holy shit.  I can die a happy man, now.  I've just experienced a nip slip from Jane Russell's underwater stunt double!!!  Happy dreams tonight, everyone!  Alright, now that that's out of the way, this is a reasonably entertaining sunken treasure adventure from John Sturges, the man who brought us the classics THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960) and THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) among others.  He'd done some good pictures by this point but UNDERWATER! isn't going to stand out in his catalog.  It's OK.  Really, it's a little better than average with a fine performance by Gilbert Roland (love that guy).  Everyone else does a fine job, too, I suppose.  The song "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" gets a lot of mileage in this picture but it works REALLY well.  There's a scene where the gang is hanging out in a cantina and the band is playing it (that's band leader Perez Prado at the piano).  As  a trumpet player I've played that version many, many times.  It's a lot of fun to play and it's a great tune.  Anyway, watch how Sturges plays that scene with the four of them at the table when it comes to the music and how the conversation flows with it.  It's brilliantly done and a great way to help incorporate the tune into the film.  The underwater scenes are long and tedious but it does help having Richard Egan's voice over telling what he's thinking from time to time.  You can find the whole movie on YouTube. I expected more but what I got wasn't that bad.

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