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SEAS BENEATH (director: John Ford; screenwriters: from story by Comdr. James Parker Jr./Dudley Nichols; cinematographer: Joseph August; editor: Frank E. Hull; music: PeterBrunelli; cast: George O’Brien (Captain Bob Kingsley), John Loder (Franz Shiller), Mona Maris (Lolita), Steve Pendleton (Ensign Cabot), Marion Lessing (Anna Maria), Walter McGrail(Chief Joe Cobb), Warren Hymer (Lug Kaufman), Larry Kent (Lt. ‘Mac’ McGregor), Walter “Judge” Kelly (Chief Mike Costello), Henry Victor (Baron Ernst von Steuben); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Ford; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; 1931)

Not one of Ford’s better pictures.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dull reworking of John Ford’s (“Fort Apache”/”The Lost Patrol”/”Tobacco Road”)Men Without Women (1930). It was filmed on location in and around Catalina Island. It’s based on the story by Comdr. James Parker Jr. and is written by Dudley Nichols. Not one of Ford’s better pictures. The fictitious WWI story fails to capture the realities of war, the acting for the most part is stiff and the efforts at comic relief never quite satisfy.

Bob Kingsley (George O’Brien) is the captain of a WWI submarine crew, whose crew are naval reserves. During the waning days of the war, they’re on a secret mission to sink the notorious German U-boat 172. They sail in a schooner and are armed with a hidden big cannon in a ship at tow that’s manned by crack gunners. They are ordered to act as if they were a merchant ship to lure the U-boat to attack them on the surface and then surprise them with their big gun. In the neutral port at the Canary Islands, the crew stops for supplies and liberty leave. There Kingsley romances Anna MariaVon Stuben (Marion Lessing) and learnslater after a few incidents and her capture, that her brother, Baron Ernst Von Steuben (Henry Victor), is the commander of U-boat 172 andher fiancee (John Loder) is an officer on the German vessel. It slowly builds to the climax, where the decoy activities of the “The Mystery Ship” succeed in drawing out the U-boat and sinking it on September 1918. The romance between Anna Marie and Kingsley ends when she chooses to return to her country and remain loyal to her fellow Germans rather than accept his marriage proposal.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”