City Beneath the Sea 1953
Classic Adventure Movie
This under water adventure tale is based on the book Port Royal: The Ghost City Beneath the Sea by Harry E. Rieseberg. It follows two deep sea salvage divers who have been hired to find the sunken wreckage of the missing ship, the Lady Luck. The vessel presumably sank with all hands being dragged to watery deaths but she also bears the booty of one million dollars in gold bullion. Greed is a powerful motivator so the divers take to the task with relish.
Set in Jamaica in the 1950's, this movie reminds me of why blockbusters like Raiders of the Lost Ark enjoy so much success. Exotic locations, daring challenges and never a dull moment, you are strapped into your seat until the very last frame of screen time.
I watch a lot of adventure flicks like this but this one stands out because of the cast. From the moment the story opens I was riveted. I saw two guys strutting down the gangway as they deboard a ship to begin a new undertaking. I knew immediately that these two men were going to take me for a ride I would be telling my friends about because I recognized them like they were old friends. Their names were Robert Ryan and Anthony Quinn.
A Hard Man
Roberty Ryan, sadly no longer with us, still provides us with an enduring legacy of entertainment through his body of work. Often remembered as a screen heavy in film noir flicks, Ryan always made an impression on his audience. Do yourself a favor and watch The Set-Up (1949), in which he plays an aging boxer. You'll feel smug as you boast to your friends about the forgotten screen gem that you have found.
By contrast to his reputation as a movie heavy, in this film Ryan plays a pretty decent, friendly guy who goes out of his way to act with honor and look after his friend, portrayed by Anthony Quinn. But that doesn't mean he is a straight-laced fellow who bores you with his Dudley-do-right routine. Ryan's talent as an actor keeps you watching intently just to see how he's going to react next. He almost plays the straight guy to Quinn's more rambunctious character and that disparity between the two of them naturally makes us wonder about the history they have shared. What capers have these two gents endured together?
Who doesn't love Anthony Quinn? He has given us so much over the length of his career including Mobsters (1991), Barabbus (1961) and so very many more. A unique presence, Quinn made every role his own that could never be duplicated or even imitated by any other actor which is one of the reasons that he is remembered as a legend that we can't get enough of. In City Beneath the Sea, Quinn is the bold brawler who you want to go out drinking and chasing girls with, knowing that you are guaranteed to have a rough and tumble time you will reminisce about for the rest of your life.
I usually think of Quinn as a lone-wolf kind of character who doesn't really chum around with the guys but he makes you want him as a friend with his performance in this story. In fact, it's his chemistry with co-star Robert Ryan that lifts this movie above the other B-movies of the time. You wish these guys were your friends but your tension builds as you grow to fear that there will be a split between them. But what could come between such pals as these men? What could possibly come between them? Greed.
Adventure vs Action
My personal opinion. Modern action films have forgone the adventure part and focus mostly on the effects, seeming to believe that the bigger and the more copious the explosions are then the better the movie will be. This movie, City Beneath the Sea, is a great example of why adventure films are my preference. This movie is driven by the chemistry between the two leads and, even though there aren't mega-effects like you might see in a natural disasters movie, the action still keeps you tense and excited.
There are some great straight action movies, don't get me wrong, but I think a movie is better with some engaging story. This movie, like a lot of classic adventure movies, gives us solid story, interesting characters and something else that I enjoy a great deal...a unique environment. I'm not sure why, but I am a sucker for undersea movies. I think it's because I don't get to experience that world very much in movies so it's different and full of potential to me.
City Beneath the Sea trailer
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© 2017 Dale Anderson