Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is a landmark, or rather watermark. The third ever CinemaScope production this was a prestige release, with Florida, Key West location Technicolor filming of never-before-achieved underwater cinema... more »tography, and four-channel stereo recording of a superlative Bernard Herrmann score. Even a still-impressive underwater battle with an octopus pre-dates the more famous giant squid of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). The humans aren't bad either, with a young Robert Wagner making a charismatic if ethnically unconvincing Greek lead as sponge fisherman Tony, and Terry Moore playing Juliet to his Romeo with real vivacity. --Gary S. Dalkin« less
"You'll notice that the online reviews tend to be for the movie ... the storyline, acting etc etc ... but without much to say about which version is best. Consequently, the same reviews appear in the listings for all DVD versions. This film seems to have fallen into the public domain and as a result there are quite a few DVDs out there from different manufacturers. I'm always uncertain about buying such discs because there's no telling what sort of quality print they were taken from. I got lucky. I bought the Digital Gold Collection version by Unicorn Video and it's a good, solid print. ASIN: B0000640V8. It is advertised as being digitally remastered and it shows. The print is as clean as can be expected for a non-studio release, the sound is just fine and it's shown in its full Cinemascope format. My only minor complaint is that the colour has a slightly washed out appearance which is instantly fixed by turning up the colour level on the TV set a few notches. I have no idea if the others on the market are equal to this but they certainly aren't likely to be much better. Get this version - you won't be disappointed."
This IS the remastered edition!
Stephen O. Murray | San Francisco, CA USA | 03/29/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Both the reviews that are here are in the wrong place--and I have to wonder about anyone who wants a pan-and-scan version of this movie notable for its wide-screen effects... The movie has a great music score by Bernard Hermann. It's my favorite Hermann score, beating out "Vertigo" and "Citizen Kane." Hearing excerpts on a disc of Hermann movie music is what led me to the movie.
Filmed on location in Tarpon Springs, Key West, and out in the Gulf of Mexico, the 1953 "Beneath the 12-mile Reef" was the second or third movie filmed in Cinemascope ("The Robe" was the first) and a pioneer in underwater photography. Edward Cronjager was awarded an Oscar for his color cinematography (which is striking in the above-water scenes, too, on the boats and in a city park).
Yeah, yeah, there is a story, a sugar-coated lifting from "Romeo and Juliet." Herein, the Montagues are immigrant Greek sponge-divers in Tarpon Springs, Florida (Robert Wagner as the Romeo). The Capulets are Anglo Americans who have claimed the best locations, forcing the enemy aliens to pick from the dangerous reef of the title. Terry Moore plays Juliet, spending less time in swimming stuis than Robert Wagner and not getting to wrestle an octopus as he does.
The hamming of Gilbert Roland as Romeo's dather and Richard Boone's as Juliet's is more fun than the attempts to portray passion of the young lovers. J. Carrol Naish, however, is pretty insufferable as the Greek (!) philosopher-in-residence, given the subtle moniker Socrates. Gilbert Roland is more convincingly Greek than Robert Wager, which is pretty faint praise. As the not-so-old-man fighting the sea, he is pretty good.
There have been multiple DVD releases (copyright protection was allowed to expire), but this one should not be faulted for the inferior other releases!
Memorable Cinematography, Score Enliven Melodrama
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 08/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Directed by Robert D. Webb and released in 1953, this saga of competing sea sponge divers was noted for its drop-dead gorgeous cinematography and a brilliant score by composer Bernard Herrmann--and these remain the great assets of the film to this day.
The story is pure melodrama given an exotic twist. The Petrakis and Rhys families earn their livings by diving for sea sponges, but when the Rhys family, led by father Thomas (Richard Boone) resort to dirty tricks the Petrakis family, led by father Mike (Gilbert Roland) are forced to resort to risky dives at the dangerous 'Twelve Mile' reef; at the same time a love affair between son Tony Petrakis (Robert Wagner) and daughter Gwyneth Rhys (Terry Moore) further complicate the rivalry. Needless to say, tragedy results.
Both Wagner and Moore were considered rising stars when the film was made, and although Wagner makes for an unconvincing Greek both give enjoyable performances as the star-crossed lovers caught Romeo and Juliet fashion between battling families. Even so, the acting honors here go to Gilbert Roland and Richard Boone as the warring fathers with a special nod to Peter Graves as Arnold, an overly aggressive Rhys diver. Several notable character actors, including J. Carroll Nash, Jay Novello, and Harry Carey Jr. round out the cast.
Although the cast is solid, the plot is more than a little predictable--but the chief thing is the photography and the score. REEF was among the earliest productions made in Cinemascope, and everyone concerned was determined to make it as visually attractive as possible. The result is some truly beautiful cinematography, particularly in reference to the film's many underwater scenes. The score by Bernard Herrmann, who would later be best known for his work on such Hitchcock films as VERTIGO, also captures the beauty of the sea to remarkable effect.
Unfortunately, REEF seems to have fallen into public domain, and there are numerous DVD and VHS releases on the market. In most cases they are abominable things: the cinemascope has been reduced to pan and scan, the colors are muddy, and the sound is poor. There are, however, at least a few available that give you some idea of what all the 1953 fuss was about. Although they are hardly renowned for the quality of their product, the Digiview Productions release is actually quite good; the Digital Gold release is also more than respectable.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
Visually Brilliant Cinemascope Production
gobirds2 | New England | 08/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The simple yet brilliantly visual BENEATH THE 12-MILE REEF filmed in Cinemascope has now become a classic for its beautiful cinematography accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's equally beautiful score often times psychological as it explores the dichotomy of nature's beauty and the lurking dangers that are often present. A very young Robert Wagner and Terry Moore provide the love interest, each coming from two rival families, in this tale of the sponge business in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Gilbert Roland as Wagner's father brings a vibrant and worldly sense of realism to this film full of bravado and restraint wisdom that permeates the simple yet effective storyline. This is a very entertaining film and works on several levels."
Beneath the 12 Mile Reef
Frank S. Mize | Wichita, KS United States | 03/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As all of us movie buffs, I really hate it when scenes get deleted from a film. The end of the fight between Tony's Father and Arnold has been deleted (where they begin to fight "greek style", and Tony's father makes Arnold eat a cigar). It is a great character building scene, and it is a shame it is NOT on the DVD. I personally would rather they include all scenes, even if they get a little fuzzy, as part of the heart of this movie had been removed.However, there was a good side to the DVD as well. Those of us baby boomers who grew up watching and loving the film on television never knew the true ending of the movie, as we could not see it in wide screen. As I know the movie well, it was a pleasant surprise to see the entire picture when Tony brings his hook boat back into the greek harbor in Tarpin. I will not ruin it for anyone, but it was a nice touch to the end of the movie that I am glad to know. For those who have not seen the movie, it is a great one (considering when it was made), and has no bad or distasteful scenes, but portrays the life of early sponge divers."