UNDERWATER! (aka: THE BIG RAINBOW)
(director: John Sturges; screenwriters: from the story The Big Rainbow by Robert B. Bailey & Hugh King/Walter Newman; cinematographer: Harry J. Wild; editor: Stuart Gilmore; music: Roy Webb; cast: Jane Russell (Theresa Gray), Gilbert Roland (Dominic Quesada), Richard Egan (Johnny Gray), Lori Nelson (Gloria), Robert Keith (Father Cannon), Joseph Calleia (Rico Herrera), Eugene Iglesias (Miguel), Ric Roman (Jesus); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Tatelman; RKO; 1955)
“The dull talky yarn seemed to merely be an excuse to show off the buxom Russell in a variety of leisurely skimpy sporting outfits.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A soggy action/adventure story directed by John Sturges (“The Magnificent Seven”) that’s based on the story The Big Rainbow by Robert B. Bailey and Hugh King and written by Walter Newman. It’s set in the Caribbean (filmed on location in Mexico) among fortune hunting deep sea divers. For its long diving scenes an underwater tank was constructed in an RKO Radio soundstage.
Small-time tourist boat operator in Havana, Cuba, Johnny Gray (Richard Egan) finds while diving the remains of a small ship from 1640 and with his Cuban business partner Dominic Quesada (Gilbert Roland) dive together to find several valuable manmade artifacts in the vicinity of the ship. When they come up for air, they are greeted by nosy shark hunter Rico Arrera (Joseph Calleia) who mockingly pretends to believe them when they say they are scientists collecting rocks. Returning to shore the two men are excited by their discovery and Johnny gets his sexy and playful wife Theresa (Jane Russell) to agree to sell the boat to buy the expensive equipment needed for this latest get-rich-quick scheme of his. Dominic visits the yacht of an American millionaire but finds he vanished to avoid paying his debts and only a hungry stranded blonde secretary named Gloria (Lori Nelson) is present. The boss for scam purposes left the title of the luxury yacht under her name, and Gloria’s easily talked into contributing the boat to become a full partner in the sunken treasure hunt. The four partners are joined by their knowledgeable historian priest friend Father Cannon (Robert Keith), who tells them it was probably “a pilot vessel of a convoy that fled Panama with an invaluable gold statue of the Madonna, which sank during a storm.” The boys when diving discover another ship, and in further dives bring up gold bullion bars and a small gold crown dislodged from the life-size Madonna. But to their anguish there’s waiting for them again by the side of their boat Rico and his crew, Miguel and Jesus. They leave only when invited to dinner. The partners get the shark hunters drunk on wine, and then overcome them and leave them ashore on the beach without a boat. On one of the dives, the middle-aged Dominic suddenly loses consciousness and it’s determined he has the bends and can no longer be depended on. After talking his way into going down again to be a helper as Johnny tries to pry open a second sealed door, the ship breaks apart and Dominic is trapped in the sand. With the two divers in danger Gloria brings the shark hunters back from the shore to see if they can help, but instead they pull guns on the priest and Gloria. When the divers come up on their own, there’s a confrontation and the potential for a shootout over the gold.
The dull talky yarn seemed to merely be an excuse to show off the buxom Russell in a variety of leisurely skimpy sporting outfits, which I can live with. But the film itself, that’s merely garbage to feed a hungry public clamoring to see as much of the sexpot’s skin as possible.
REVIEWED ON 6/22/2006 GRADE: C+