Beneath the 12-Mile Reef


1h 42m 1953
Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

Brief Synopsis

Love brings together two families of rival sponge fishers.

Film Details

Also Known As
12 Mile Reef
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
Dec 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 16 Dec 1953; Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Key West, Florida, United States; Nassau,Bahamas; Nassau, New Providence Islands, Bahamas; Tarpon Springs, Florida, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
4-Track Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,145ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

Following another disappointing fishing expedition off the Florida coast, Greek-American sponge fisherman Mike Petrakis, his son Tony and the rest of the crew on board the Aegli return home to Tarpon Springs, where they are greeted by Mama Petrakis and Tony's sister Penny. Also waiting for them at the dock is money-lender Demetrios Sofotes, who is eager to get a payment toward the money that he invested in the Aegli . Mike and his crew are further disappointed when they learn that another boat, the Helios , is bringing in a profitable catch after sponge-fishing the dangerous Twelve Mile Reef. At a Greek Orthodox Church Epiphany festival held on boats anchored at Tarpon Springs, Tony receives a special blessing for himself and his family after winning an underwater diving contest. Tony uses the victory to extract a promise from his father to let him dive on the next expedition. Believing that the waters around Tarpon Springs are no longer good for sponge fishing, Mike decides to break with tradition and take his boat out to Key West, a region unofficially designated off-limits to Greeks. In the Keys, as the Aegli crew brings in a great catch of sponges, two American sponge fishermen, Arnold Dix and Griff Rhys, approach in their small boat, grab Mike's air line and threaten to cut off his air unless the Greeks give them their sponge catch. Tony and the others comply with the demand, but later seek out the thieves at Key West. There, Mike and the rest of the Aegli crew go to a café and make believe that they are joining in the celebration of the day's great catch. Meanwhile, Tony falls in love with Gwyneth Rhys, Arnold's sweetheart, and shares a dance with her. Arnold becomes jealous, and during an ensuing brawl, Tony and Gwyneth sneak off to a nearby park, where they kiss. The Aegli crew eventually gets its revenge when Mike subdues Arnold and forces him to eat a cigar. For the next expedition, Mike takes the Aegli to the Twelve Mile Reef, but tragedy strikes during a dive when Mike slips on the reef, loses compression and is propelled to the water's surface too fast. Mike gets the bends from coming up too fast, and later dies. While Tony wanders off to mourn, Arnold and Griff loot the Aegli , and another group of American fishermen scuffles with Tony's uncle Socrates "Soak" Houlis, and set the boat ablaze, nearly destroying it. Gwyneth then takes Tony to see her father, Thomas, a fair man who orders Arnold and his gang to pay Tony for the stolen sponges. Furious at Thomas' order, Arnold goes after Tony and gives him a beating. The injured Tony makes his way back to the dock, where he and Gwyneth steal a boat, the Conch , and head out to sea. Gwyneth, more in love with Tony than ever, gets an idea to turn the Conch into a deep sea diving boat, and they begin sponge fishing at the Twelve Mile Reef. Arnold and his compatriots eventually find Tony and Gwyneth and engage them in a bruising fistfight. The struggle forces Tony and Arnold into the water, and when Arnold becomes entangled in kelp, Tony rescues him. Arnold is grateful to Tony for saving his life and the two adversaries make amends. Gwyneth decides to marry Tony, and her family and Tony's join together to arrange a festive wedding.

Film Details

Also Known As
12 Mile Reef
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
Dec 1953
Premiere Information
World premiere in New York: 16 Dec 1953; Los Angeles opening: 25 Dec 1953
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Key West, Florida, United States; Nassau,Bahamas; Nassau, New Providence Islands, Bahamas; Tarpon Springs, Florida, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
4-Track Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.55 : 1
Film Length
9,145ft (12 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Cinematography

1953

Articles

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef


"CinemaScope gives another demonstration of its photographic versatility, this time going underwater to add sock pictorial values to Beneath the 12-Mile Reef." Thus began Variety's December 16, 1953, review of Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), the second (or depending on your sources, third) CinemaScope release by 20th Century Fox. The biblical epic The Robe (1953) kicked off the widescreen craze, opening at New York's Roxy Theater on September 16, 1953. Beneath the 12-Mile Reef followed The Robe into the Roxy, but How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) was in production at Fox during the same time, leading to somewhat of a dispute over which film actually came in second in the CinemaScope race.

A perfect choice for the CinemaScope format, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is about a Greek family who make their living diving for sponges off the coast of Florida. Their livelihood is a dangerous one, though, due to the unpredictable weather and the dangers of the 12-mile reef. Another problem the family faces is ethnic discrimination from the local Florida sponge divers who resent any "outside" competition in their profession. Tensions between the two clans increase when young Tony Petrakis (Robert Wagner) falls in love with Gwyneth Rhys (Terry Moore), the daughter of his father's main rival. While the Romeo and Juliet-inspired romance provides the emotional fireworks in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, it is the natural outdoor settings and stunning underwater photography that make this particularly memorable in CinemaScope.

The CinemaScope process was developed by Frenchman Henri Chretien as early as 1927. The simple idea allowed a wider image to be squeezed by an anamorphic lens onto conventional 35mm stock. The lens distorted the image, which was then corrected during projection by a compensating lens. For moviegoers, the outcome was a much wider picture. The old Academy aspect ratio (ratio of a film's width to height) had been set in 1932 at 1.33:1. This image was virtually square. CinemaScope began with an aspect ratio of 2.55:1, as displayed by Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, but was eventually reduced to 2.35:1. For the studios, CinemaScope's more rectangular, panoramic picture became a unique strategy to capture the audiences' attention, something the television screen couldn't compete with successfully.

Other widescreen processes, such as Cinerama, were attempted during this time. But CinemaScope had a great advantage in that it required only special lenses and a widescreen. No expensive new cameras or projectors were needed. Initially, all CinemaScope films also carried four-track stereo sound, which accounts for Bernard Herrmann's distinctive music score for Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. Normally, the studio would likely not have used as accomplished a composer as Herrmann (who would later win an Oscar for his work on Vertigo, 1958) on a movie like Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. But since CinemaScope required stereo sound, every effort was made to make it look and sound as good as possible. Fox eventually dropped the stereo requirement for CinemaScope in 1954, allowing more theaters to afford the conversion to widescreen.

The studio also insisted that all CinemaScope films be produced in Technicolor. And so five-time Oscar nominee Edward Cronjager was brought in as cinematographer for Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. The film received its only Oscar nomination for color cinematography, going up against The Robe. But both films lost out to the imposing Wyoming landscapes of Shane(1953). CinemaScope would be vindicated the next year when Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) took home the award.

Fox held the rights to the CinemaScope process and, by 1953, every studio except Paramount had been licensed to make CinemaScope films. While Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is a perfect example of fifties family entertainment, it's the movie's technical innovations that have assured it a place in film history.

Producer: Robert Bassler
Director: Robert Webb
Screenplay: A.I. Bezzerides
Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler
Cinematography: Edward J. Cronjager
Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins
Film Editing: William H. Reynolds
Original Music: Bernard Herrmann
Principal Cast: Robert Wagner (Tony Petrakis), Terry Moore (Gwyneth Rhys), Gilbert Roland (Mike Petrakis), J. Carrol Naish (Soak), Richard Boone (Thomas Rhys), Angela Clarke (Mama), Peter Graves (Arnold), Harry Carey Jr. (Griff)
C-101m. Letterboxed

by Stephanie Thames & Jeff Stafford
Beneath The 12-Mile Reef

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

"CinemaScope gives another demonstration of its photographic versatility, this time going underwater to add sock pictorial values to Beneath the 12-Mile Reef." Thus began Variety's December 16, 1953, review of Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), the second (or depending on your sources, third) CinemaScope release by 20th Century Fox. The biblical epic The Robe (1953) kicked off the widescreen craze, opening at New York's Roxy Theater on September 16, 1953. Beneath the 12-Mile Reef followed The Robe into the Roxy, but How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) was in production at Fox during the same time, leading to somewhat of a dispute over which film actually came in second in the CinemaScope race. A perfect choice for the CinemaScope format, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is about a Greek family who make their living diving for sponges off the coast of Florida. Their livelihood is a dangerous one, though, due to the unpredictable weather and the dangers of the 12-mile reef. Another problem the family faces is ethnic discrimination from the local Florida sponge divers who resent any "outside" competition in their profession. Tensions between the two clans increase when young Tony Petrakis (Robert Wagner) falls in love with Gwyneth Rhys (Terry Moore), the daughter of his father's main rival. While the Romeo and Juliet-inspired romance provides the emotional fireworks in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, it is the natural outdoor settings and stunning underwater photography that make this particularly memorable in CinemaScope. The CinemaScope process was developed by Frenchman Henri Chretien as early as 1927. The simple idea allowed a wider image to be squeezed by an anamorphic lens onto conventional 35mm stock. The lens distorted the image, which was then corrected during projection by a compensating lens. For moviegoers, the outcome was a much wider picture. The old Academy aspect ratio (ratio of a film's width to height) had been set in 1932 at 1.33:1. This image was virtually square. CinemaScope began with an aspect ratio of 2.55:1, as displayed by Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, but was eventually reduced to 2.35:1. For the studios, CinemaScope's more rectangular, panoramic picture became a unique strategy to capture the audiences' attention, something the television screen couldn't compete with successfully. Other widescreen processes, such as Cinerama, were attempted during this time. But CinemaScope had a great advantage in that it required only special lenses and a widescreen. No expensive new cameras or projectors were needed. Initially, all CinemaScope films also carried four-track stereo sound, which accounts for Bernard Herrmann's distinctive music score for Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. Normally, the studio would likely not have used as accomplished a composer as Herrmann (who would later win an Oscar for his work on Vertigo, 1958) on a movie like Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. But since CinemaScope required stereo sound, every effort was made to make it look and sound as good as possible. Fox eventually dropped the stereo requirement for CinemaScope in 1954, allowing more theaters to afford the conversion to widescreen. The studio also insisted that all CinemaScope films be produced in Technicolor. And so five-time Oscar nominee Edward Cronjager was brought in as cinematographer for Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. The film received its only Oscar nomination for color cinematography, going up against The Robe. But both films lost out to the imposing Wyoming landscapes of Shane(1953). CinemaScope would be vindicated the next year when Three Coins in the Fountain (1954) took home the award. Fox held the rights to the CinemaScope process and, by 1953, every studio except Paramount had been licensed to make CinemaScope films. While Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is a perfect example of fifties family entertainment, it's the movie's technical innovations that have assured it a place in film history. Producer: Robert Bassler Director: Robert Webb Screenplay: A.I. Bezzerides Art Direction: Lyle Wheeler Cinematography: Edward J. Cronjager Costume Design: Dorothy Jeakins Film Editing: William H. Reynolds Original Music: Bernard Herrmann Principal Cast: Robert Wagner (Tony Petrakis), Terry Moore (Gwyneth Rhys), Gilbert Roland (Mike Petrakis), J. Carrol Naish (Soak), Richard Boone (Thomas Rhys), Angela Clarke (Mama), Peter Graves (Arnold), Harry Carey Jr. (Griff) C-101m. Letterboxed by Stephanie Thames & Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was 12 Mile Reef. Within the film, the Greek American fishermen refer to their rivals as "English," even though they are American. A May 7, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Betty Madigan in the cast, but her appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. Puppeteer Jack Shafton created miniature diving figures that were used in underwater sequences in the film. According to studio production records in the AMPAS Library file on the film, while filming at Tarpon Springs, FL, Robert Wagner "nearly drowned" when he was accidentally kicked in the stomach by another swimmer. According to the Hollywood Reporter review, the film was shot entirely on location at Tarpon Springs and Key West, FL, but a May 26, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the "final underwater scenes" were shot at Nassau in the Bahamas. Underwater scenes were shot with the use of a specially designed French underwater camera called the Aquaflex. Cameraman Edward Cronjager was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color) for the film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1953

Released in United States 1998

Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.

CinemaScope

Released in United States Winter December 1953

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as part of program "Twentieth Century Fox and the Golden Age of CinemaScope" July 3 - August 15, 1998.)