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Blue Water, White Death

Blue Water, White Death(1971)

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The opening credits include a brief description of the great white shark, its Latin name, Carcharodon carchar, and remarks about its predatory nature. Wally King provides voice-over narration throughout the film, describing the expedition, the weather conditions and details about the sharks and other animals found on the trip. Musician Tom Chapin plays songs on the expedition during evenings and diving breaks. Chapin in the younger brother of singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, who wrote the song "Someone Keeps Calling My Name" that is heard on the film's soundtrack. In the closing credits, the filmmakers gave special thanks to: The officers and crew of the Terrier VIII, the Union Whaling Company of Durban, South Africa, The Lerner Marine Laboratory of the American Museum of Natural History, Dr. and Mrs. G. D. Campbell, Dr. and Mrs. G. G. Campbell and the Clevite Corporation.
       According to a July 22, 1967 New York Times news item, accomplished diver and department store heir Peter Gimbel was soon to receive a patent for the buoyancy control anti-shark diving cage or elevator which was later used to make Blue Water, White Death. According to a August 1, 1971 Los Angeles Times article, Gimbel presented the idea for the film in 1967 to then CBS vice president Jack Schneider, who handed the film to the CBS motion picture division, Cinema Center Films, which then produced Blue Water, White Death.
       The 1971 Filmfacts noted that Gimbel set out on the expedition in March 1969 in South Africa, Mozambique and Ceylon. When the crew had failed to spot a great white shark by August 1969, Gimbel suspended the voyage until January 1970, when they traveled to Dangerous Reef off the coast of South Australia, where great whites had recently been spotted.
       According to a May 12, 1971 New York Times review, the voyage documented in Blue Water, White Death was the basis for the book Blue Meridian, written by the expedition historian, Peter Matthiessen. Several reviews noted that, unlike the films of the significant oceanographic explorations of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Blue Water, White Death was a more adventure-seeking thriller, stylistically similar to the 1966 surfing film Endless Summer (see below). Many reviews also noted Blue Water, White Death's box office success and lauded the divers for capturing the dangerous footage.