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CITY BENEATH THE SEA (director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: from the novel “Port Royal, the Ghost City Beneath the Sea” by Harry E. Rieseberg/Jack Harvey/ Ramon Romero; cinematographer: Charles P. Boyle; editor: Edward Curtiss; music: Joseph Gershenson; cast: Robert Ryan (Brad Carlton), Anthony Quinn (Tony Bartlett ), Suzan Ball (Venita/Mary Lou Beetle), Mala Powers (Terry), Karel Stepanek (Dwight Trevor), George Matthews (Captain Meade/Ralph Sorensen), Hilo Hattie (Mama Mary), Lalo Rios (Calypso), Woody Strode (Dijon); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Albert J. Cohen; Universal; 1953)
High-romance ‘beneath the sea story,’ that has star power and little else.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

High-romance ‘beneath the sea story,’ that has star power and little else. It’s not up to director Budd Boetticher’s(“The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond“/”The Tall T”/”The Killer is Loose”) usual high standards. Writers Jack Harvey and Ramon Romero base it on the novel “Port Royal, the Ghost City Beneath the Sea” by Harry E. Rieseberg.

Wise-cracking lusty American salvage divers Brad Carlton(Robert Ryan)andTony Bartlett (Anthony Quinn) are in Kingston, Jamaica to work for Dwight Trevor (Karel Stepanek), who pays them a thousand dollars a day to locate where the freighter the Lady Luck sunk during a hurricane with a cargo of one million dollars in gold bullion. The boys are promised an extra $25,000 if they recover the gold. While the boys search for a boat to rent, they each score a dame. Brad romances the feisty Terry (Mala Powers), the captain of the rented boat, while Tony romances the American nightclub torch singer Venita (Suzan Ball, Lucy’s cousin).

It turns out that boat owner Trevor is partners with Captain Meade (George Matthews), the captain of the Lady Luck, who faked his death for nefarious purposes and now goes under the name Ralph Sorensen. Trevor never intended at the time to find the gold during the salvage project, but did it to satisfy the insurance people that he was looking for his sunken ship. The scheming partners differ if now is the right time to go after the gold and double-cross each other, as Sorensen is the only one who knows where the ship went down and he secretly meets Tony in the Rum Pot club and hires him, without his partner’s knowledge, for a third of the profits to recover the sunken gold.

It turns out The Lady Luck went down over Port Royal, where in 1692 an earthquake sunk the town to the bottom of the sea. The superstitious natives believe the area is haunted by ghosts and refuse to go there. When they discover the outsiders are there, they begin voodoo dances.

When Tony tells Brad about the diving deal he made with Sorensen, the partner refuses to go and warns his partner about what the locals told him about disturbing those waters and that what he’s doing is illegal. Tony refuses to listen, and thereby Brad gets Trevor to legally back the dive. When Brad and Tony meet Trevor and Sorensen at the diving spot, all sorts of trouble arises (including a spectacular earthquake, the pic’s highlight). Trouble is, even if Ryan and Quinn are dazzling in their roles, is that both the adventure and romance stories are too routine.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”