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The Enemy Below [DVD] [1957]

  • SKU: 6448187
  • Release Date: 05/25/2004
  • Rating: NR
The Enemy Below (1957) is a war movie that has only improved with age, and it started out with an excellent reputation. The direction by Dick Powell is about as perfect as has ever been seen in a World War II thriller of this kind. It's not an epic about D-day or some renowned battle, but a story of one relatively small action -- no less ferocious or deadly -- between an American destroyer escort and a German U-boat. What made it special, apart from the excellent performances all around and the fine special effects by L.B. Abbott, was its script by Wendell Mayes, which brought out the human element on both sides, an aspect of war drama that was new to American movie audiences in 1957. The DVD release was announced for the spring of 2003, but the disc didn't actually make it into stores until May 2004, almost a year late. The reason for the delay is anyone's guess -- what we have here, however, is nicely programmed. This film actually should have been part of Fox's Studio Classics series, because it is that good -- David Hedison and Theodore Bikel are still around, among the movie's cast members, and could have been at the core of a commentary track with a good war movie scholar. But as it is, there's a lot to watch beyond the movie itself. A Fox Movietone newsreel tells about the combat situation in the Atlantic early in the war and the German attack on southern Norway, made up of footage passed by censors on both sides. There's a very brief account of a U-boat captured by a British sea-plane and a much longer look at the German U-boat pens in Lorient, France, made up of footage captured from the Germans, and shots of Allied bombers blasting those same pens. As for the movie itself, it looks gorgeous -- better here than in any prior home-video presentation, with deeper color and sharper detail than was seen on the old letterboxed laserdisc. This release keeps the proper Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and that is essential to viewing this movie properly; apart from the fact that this is a film about ships at sea -- one of the most horizontal subjects there is -- Powell and cinematographer Harold Rosson use every part of the widescreen frame, so that there's hardly a shot in which there's not useful picture/plot information spread across the screen. One of the wonderful bonuses of the DVD format, as opposed to laserdisc, is the absence of bleeds in the bright lights -- even the red lamps aboard the sub show a razor-sharp glow, and no fuzziness. The source material is in superb shape, with even the darkest shots aboard the U-boat offering usable visual information. The audio is set at a low volume but it is very clean and boosts up nicely on speakers without distortion, bringing out aspects of the highly nuanced acting -- Robert Mitchum's style is built on the notion of less-is-more, so his every pause is worth taking in, and Curt Jurgens is just as good in a slightly different manner. Additionally, there is an unexpectedly good action score by Leigh Harline. The 97-minute movie has been given a very generous 28 chapters that are well chosen and labeled. In addition to the English-language stereo/4.0 surround track, there are mono French and Spanish audio tracks available and English, French, and Spanish subtitles. The disc opens automatically to a multi-layered menu that's very easy to maneuver around and advances automatically as one screens the trailers (to this and a handful of other Fox war movies from the 1940s through the 1960s) and newsreels.
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    Overview

    Ratings & Reviews


    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (7 out of 7)

    Special Features


    • Theatrical trailer
    • "Fox War Classics"
    • Movietone News
    • Closed Captioned

    Synopsis


    The Enemy Below
    The Enemy Below is a study of submarine warfare from the vantage point of both sides. Robert Mitchum plays the captain of an American destroyer, who despite having lost his family in the war endeavors to let his head rule his heart in combat. Curt Jurgens co-stars as a German U-boat commander, depicted as being as honorable and compassionate as Mitchum. The two men develop a grudging mutual respect as they pursue one another throughout the North Atlantic. Based on a novel by D. A. Rayner, The Enemy Below was the last theatrical film directed by Dick Powell, who hereafter concentrated on his extensive television work. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

    Cast & Crew


    • Robert Mitchum
      Robert Mitchum - Capt. Murrell
    • Curd Jürgens
      Curd Jürgens - Von Stolberg
    • Theodore Bikel
      Theodore Bikel - Schwaffer
    • Russell Collins
      Russell Collins - Doctor
    • Kurt Kreuger
      Kurt Kreuger - Von Holem



    Customer rating

    Rating 5 out of 5 stars with 7 reviews

    100%
    would recommend to a friend

    Most relevant reviews

    See all customer reviews
    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Cat and Mouse WW2 sub film

      Posted
      Wiseguy4187
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite Plus MemberElite Plus Member

      While Run Silent, Run Deep focused on an American sub, this movie details the cat and mouse game between a German sub commander and an American destroyer commander. The movie was very well thought out and directed. It's a good watch for a Saturday afternoon. Great acting (same with Run Silent, Run Deep), and perhaps not the most original story, but it does a great job of telling it (of all the other films out there about the Battle of the Atlantic). You won't get the gritty realism of Das Boot, but you also won't have to commit 4 hours to watching it, either. Alas, I very much enjoyed watching this.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Great WWII Naval Duel

      Posted
      moviereviewer1949
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

      This is one of the best war movies ever made. It has two great actors in Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens and they both turn in a great performance. Mitchum is the Commander of a U.S. Destroyer and Jurgens is the Commander of a German Submarine. The Commanders have a duel of will and determination and the movie keeps you guessing as to who will be victorious. The movie was based on a novel and the movie has the ring of authenticity to it. The special effects are pretty good for a 1950's movie. This is a must see war movie and I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      A classic & an inspiration for a classic

      Posted
      icantwin
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      This film is the inspiration for the Star Trek episode: "Balance of Terror." I love that particular episode - and as it were, for the same reasons I love this film. I finally was able to track down a copy.

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      An excellent tactical thriller.

      Posted
      cookieman599
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      Two commanders, one a destroyer captain the other a German U-boat captain, engage in a battle of wits trying to guess what the other will do. Who will gain the upper hand in this WWII thriller?

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      EXCELLENT SUSPENSE MOVIE

      Posted
      NEDSPOINT
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      KEEPS YOU GUESSING AND GIVES BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF NAVAL WARFARE

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Awesome Movie

      Posted
      Peter
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      • My Best Buy® MemberMember

      Great movie about how enemies share honor and courage!

      I would recommend this to a friend

    • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

      Great Action

      Posted
      Crawdad
      • Verified PurchaserVerified Purchase
      • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

      This dvd holds your attention from start to finish.

      I would recommend this to a friend



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