"This is not the average sub-film that centers on the crews of the sub and the sub-chaser. This is a two-man cat and mouse film, marvelously done with style and incisive insight.Robert Mitchum is the man who rises to do what is needed. Not a superhero, but a very human man who goes into war and does what is required. He is the Captain of a U.S. destroyer sent out to track U-boats. Curt Jurgens is his mirror reflection - below - a Captain of the U-Boat that becomes the target of Mitchum's search. He is not a product of the Nazi war-machine, but again, a very likable man just defending his country. This is demonstrated with deft humor when Jurgens very deliberately hangs his jacket over the plaque of Hitler's propaganda.The script eschews the stereotypical "Nazi monsters", and portrays a German crew with very real - and universal - emotions. They, too, were just men doing their job and what is required. Instead of having us root for the Americans to blow up the evil Germans, you are put in the position of caring equally for both sides. You comprehend that they are men, offering their lives for their command, not in a political way, but in a time-honoured fashion of a man going to war. You understand both sides REALLY do not want to be here, to kill or be killed; they would rather home. No rousing stereotypical propaganda. In the end, they will kill each other if they must, but given the choice, they would rather not. Very different for that period of war films.A little dated appearance on the boat scenes by today's standards. It's obvious toy models when the boats crash, but easily overlooked and dismissed when balanced with the very impressive lack of finger-pointing and flag-waving for either nationality. Both Mitchum and Jurgens are dead-bang on target in their lead roles, with David Hedison, Theodore Bickel and Doug McClure round out a super cast"
The Definitive Cat and Mouse Submarine Movie
gobirds2 | New England | 06/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the best duel-of-wits on the high seas between submarine and destroyer ever filmed. Robert Mitchum as the captain of an American destroyer and Curt Jurgens as the captain of a German submarine try to out maneuver each other in a battle of nerves, instincts, intelligence, seamanship and raw courage. The multi-talented Dick Powell directed this taught drama, which remains one of the most memorable and benchmark films of this genre. The interior of the German submarine does not have the realistic or claustrophobic look as seen in DAS BOOT but that's not the point. Powell's focus is on the two captains and how they act and react. This film does not lose sight of the mentality of that era and the psychological makeup of the men at sea above and below. This is classic filmmaking and should not be overshadowed by the recent resurgence of certain World War II films that seem to have lost sight of the reason men fought and died. This film also has an impressive cast featuring David Hedison, Theodore Bikel, Kurt Kreuger and Doug McClure. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens portrayed true men of honor each dedicated to their duty that they were called upon."
One of the Better Submarine Movies
Jeffrey Leeper | Seattle, WA USA | 05/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie was made in the late 1950's and is based on the book by the same name. Here Robert Mitchum plays the new captain of an American destroyer in the South Pacific. On the voyage, the destroyer encounters a German U-boat (captained by Curt Jurgens) which is en route to a rendezvous with other German vessels. The bulk of this film is a classic "Killer Sub vs. Sub Killer" (as mentioned in the trailer before the film).The strength of this movie is not the cat-and-mouse battle. The power of this film lies in the portrayal of both sides of the battle. War is hell, and everyone merely wants to go home.This is "Das Boot" many years before it was made. You will even see "Hunt for Red October" scenes here. This film is well worth the viewing. This is Mitchum and Jurgens playing roles made for them. I highly recommend it."
Steven Hellerstedt | 07/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Dick Powell had to have had one of the most interesting careers in Hollywood history. He started out as a golden-throated pretty boy actor, made a successful mid-career shift to hard boiled roles like Philip Marlowe and then, for good measure, directed a handful of movies, including the submarine action picture THE ENEMY BELOW.
THE ENEMY BELOW is a 100% action movie, without any distracting romantic sub-plot or comic relief crew members. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens are excellent as the American destroyer commander and U-boat commander who cross paths in the Atlantic Ocean and engage in a deadly hunt. With a few exceptions the models are realistically rendered and convincing. This is one of the best war movies out there, and maybe the best navy movie available. I strongly recommend it to action fans."
Battle of Wills
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 10/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sailing on the high seas in his destroyer, the new captain encounters a submarine. His wife having been killed in a ship sunk by a torpedo, Capt. Murrell (Robert Mitchum) has a special distaste for submarines. He immediately gives chase and attempts to destroy the submarine. Capt. Von Stolberg (Curt Jürgens) is a U-boat commander on a mission, and initially he sees the destroyer as more of a nuisance than a real threat. We quickly learn the answer to the question asked by members of Murrell's crew, does the new captain know what he is doing? We learn at the same time the crew does that Capt. Murrell knows submarine tactics. It is soon after we learn that Capt. Murrell knows what he is doing that Von Stolberg also learns the same thing. Now the chess game becomes serious.
We learn a lot about both Murrell and Von Stolberg as the movie progresses. Von Stolberg cares little for Nazis and Hitler, an attitude typical among German submariners during World War II. Von Stolberg is tired and anxious for the war to end. While Murrell is just trying to do his job, you can sense equal measures of revenge and perhaps just a touch of regret that war and killing is necessary at all. While he is very matter-of-fact as he chases the submarine, he does so without enjoyment. At times I thought he was even a little sad that the conflict was necessary. Von Stolberg too is distressed regarding the feinting of the two craft. He wants to make his rendezvous, he wants to go home.
As the story develops we gain a deep respect for these two men as the scenes switch between the two characters. We realize that while there must be a resolution, we too would rather the two ships go their own way, especially since we know the war must be near an end.
The special effects are somewhat spotty. The interior views of the submarine and the destroyer are quite good. The exterior views of the destroyer and submarine are generally good, but there are some exceptions. Fortunately, the cinematography and skill of the director allows us to overlook the small flaws in the special effects, particularly as the movie draws to an exciting conclusion that makes us wonder whether either captain will survive the encounter.
It may be somewhat difficult for most to put themselves in the position of a World War II submariner without having seen one of these boats. Fortunately there are several on display in various places around the country. Once you realize how tiny and cramped submarines were in that era, you wonder at the fear of men under attack from above, particularly after the invention of sonar. They can hear everything from the drop of depth charges to the horrendous explosion they make, yet, they can do nothing. Learn how small these submarines are and you will appreciate this movie even more.
Also worthy to note in this movie is the presence of several well-known actors. David Hedison, later to be on the bridge of the Seaview in the television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," plays Murrell's executive officer. Theodore Bikel, character actor in numerous movies, plays Von Stolberg's second in command. Well down in the credits is future "Virginian" star and movie star Doug McClure. A number of other actors had extensive future careers at the time of their appearance in this movie.
This movie is one of the best of the movies about World War II. The movie portrays the lengthy battle between a submarine and destroyer quite well. More importantly, the movie focuses on the two captains and their mixed feelings about the combat. This movie is worthy of having in any war movie collection or any collection that emphasizes conflict between two characters.