Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Essential Cinema - 3




Underwater!


ACTORS
Jane Russell
Gilbert Rowland
Richard Egan
Lori Nelson


DIRECTOR
John Sturges

SCREENPLAY
Walter Newman

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Harry J. Wild A.S.C.


SYNOPSIS:
Two couples search for sunken gold in the Caribbean during the mid-1950s


CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER:
Escapism. I suppose that once you graduated from Beach Blanket Bingo and started drinking rum and coke instead of Soda Pop Ricky's, you started watching films such as this. More of a travelogue for snow bound Midwesterners, it shows a lot of tropical settings and Jane Russell.


PROS AND CONS:
This isn't a great film, but it is an interesting window into the past. The primary reason for watching is Jane Russell. One of those actresses that could ooze a lot of sex appeal without taking off a lot of clothes. She captures the audience in any scene she is in. Richard Egan as her husband, is one of those 1950s stereotypical leading men, chiseled jaw, deep voice, good looking, rugged (probably gay). American virtue is on full display in this film. Love, honor, sharing, fairness, and no heavy plot twists or dark secrets. Everything is pretty much superficial.

By today's standards this isn't good film making. Whenever there is a reel change, there is noticeable fading at the ends and beginning of the film leader (bad film to digital transfer?). Often times there are tint or lighting changes in the same scene when there is an edit. I loved the yacht that serves as their base for scuba diving in the film. On the outside it is a small slope that could probably sleep four adults. But the interior shots of the boat show it to be as big as the Queen Mary with 10 foot high ceilings. There is a lot of travelogue footage of sailboats at sunset, and underwater scenes with bubbles and sharks, which take up about 1/4 of the film. An obligatory dance scene in a dance bar with a smokin hot Latin band. All the usual stuff to make the folks in Peoria wish they were somewhere else in November 1958. An interesting look back to a simpler time, when things weren't so complex.