City Beneath the Sea


1h 27m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Divers Brad and Tony arrive in Jamaica to attempt salvage of the "Lady Luck," sunk with all hands and a million in gold. They charter a boat, "American Beauty," skippered by attractive Terry McBride, but cannot find the ship. But there's more to the "Lady Luck" than meets the eye, and undersea skullduggery forms a counterpoint to Brad's romance with Terry, and Tony's with cabaret singer Venita.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1953
Premiere Information
Cleveland, OH opening: 25 Feb 1953; New York opening: 11 Mar 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Silver Shoals,United States
Screenplay Information
Based on stories from the book I Dive for Treasure by Harry E. Rieseberg (New York, 1942).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Salvage divers Brad Carlton and Tony Bartlett arrive in Kingston, Jamaica just in time to meet their new employer, Dwight Trevor of Farmby and Company. Trevor explains that years earlier, the ship the Lady Luck sank during a typhoon with one million dollars in gold bullion aboard, and if they recover the gold, they will receive payment of $25,000. Outside the office, womanizer Tony is so distracted by a pretty girl that he drives into a banana cart, ruining the shipment that sea captain Terry McBride was about to deliver. As Terry chastises the divers and insists on payment, Brad grows more and more enamored of her, and quickly charms her into agreeing to pilot them to the Lady Luck dive site the next day. After five days at the site, they have found nothing, and Trevor orders a reluctant Tony, who is underwater but can communicate via radio, to give up the search. Before he can surface, however, Tony's hose becomes caught on a rock, and Brad immediately dives down to save him, at the risk of his own life. Days later, Trevor secretly visits Captain Meade, who arranged the wreck with Trevor and who has been hiding out for years under the name Ralph Sorensen. Feeling that the time is finally ripe to recover the gold, the two uneasy partners scheme to hire a diver. Although Trevor pressures Meade to reveal the exact position of the sunken Lady Luck , Meade refuses. That night, Brad and Tony visit local dance hall The Rum Pot, and while Brad mopes because Terry is busy with a business meeting, Tony falls for torch singer Venita, whose real name is Mary Lou Beetle. When he sees an audience member bothering Venita, Tony leaps to her defense and begins a fight, which Brad watches calmly until the last possible moment, then helps Tony to defeat dozens of sailors. Soon after, Brad receives a call from Terry asking him to meet her, and Venita invites Tony into her dressing room. Brad walks Terry back to her ship, where he kisses her. Although she does not fully trust him, she agrees to let him accompany her on her next trip. While their romance blooms, Tony, meanwhile, remains in Kingston and urges Venita to return to New Orleans with him. At the Rum Pot one night, Tony accepts Meade's offer of $50,000 to recover the sunken gold, and sails with him to the site the next day. The Lady Luck went down directly over Port Royal, an entire town that sank to the bottom of the sea during a 1692 earthquake and is now rumored to be haunted by drowned souls. The locals, having discovered that someone is tampering with Port Royal, begin a series of voodoo dances. When Brad and Terry, drifting back to Kingston, hear the drums and stop to watch the dance, the tribe surrounds them and warns them not to disturb the waters. They return to town the next day, where Brad learns from Tony, who broke up with Venita after she announced she wanted to marry him, that he has arranged for them to dive for Meade. Brad, certain the dive is illegal, refuses to go along. Hoping to find the gold legally before Tony can get into trouble, Brad then reveals Tony's plan to Trevor. As soon as the sun rises, Trevor, Terry and Brad rush to Port Royal and begin the dive. At the same time, Meade, made anxious by the constant voodoo drums, insists that Tony accompany him that day to Port Royal. They reach the dive site just as Brad finds the gold, and while he is still underwater, Meade and Tony board Terry's boat. After Trevor attacks Meade and is shot and killed, Terry deduces that they are in on the scheme together. Immediately afterward, an earthquake occurs causing a typhoon, and in a panic, Meade slips off the boat and drowns. Tony, who believes Brad tried to double-cross him, nonetheless jumps in to save his friend as soon as he realizes that Brad is trapped by a rock. He frees Brad's hose and the two race to the surface, leaving the gold behind. Days later, Brad, Terry, Tony and Venita prepare to sail to America and be married by the captain on the way. Before they set sail, however, they learn that Farmby and Company has offered thousands for one last dive for the gold. As the men rush to the office, Terry and Venita realize they may have to settle for an underwater honeymoon.

Film Details

Release Date
Mar 1953
Premiere Information
Cleveland, OH opening: 25 Feb 1953; New York opening: 11 Mar 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Silver Shoals,United States
Screenplay Information
Based on stories from the book I Dive for Treasure by Harry E. Rieseberg (New York, 1942).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 27m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher


BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001

When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces.

Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade.

Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960.

That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it.

Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85.

By Lang Thompson

Tcm Remembers - Budd Boetticher

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher

BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001 When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces. Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade. Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960. That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it. Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

You'd better wake up, get your mind off money. Think of something constructive, like dames.
- Brad Carlton

Trivia

Notes

City Beneath the Sea is based on the legend of the city of Port Royal, which sank into the sea off the coast of Jamaica when an earthquake hit in 1692, killing five thousand inhabitants. According to a November 1949 Hollywood Reporter article, producer Albert J. Cohen bought the rights to Harry E. Reiseberg's book I Dive for Treasure, which included the short story "Port Royal...City Beneath the Sea," then hired Reiseberg to recreate a salvage dive that he had undertaken years earlier at Silver Shoals.
       A May 1952 New York Times article and studio press materials detail how the film's underwater special effects were achieved: actors Robert Ryan and Anthony Quinn shot their diving scenes on an above-ground set, and were made to appear to be underwater by a special effects crew, who later hand-painted air bubbles and superimposed footage of water onto the shots. Universal press materials add that for these scenes, the camera were speeded up to approximate the more deliberate pace of underwater motion. Press materials also state that a crew of more than 100 created a 10,000-square-foot replica of the city of Port Royal. Modern sources state that footage of Reisenberg's actual dive also was included in the finished film.
       Mala Powers was borrowed from RKO for the production. Although an April 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Kathleen Freeman to the cast, she was not in the released film. In an August 1952 article, Hollywood Reporter reported that screenwriter Ramon Romero, backed by the Screenwriter's Guild, brought charges against Universal over the onscreen credits, which he felt should have credited him and Jack Harvey with "original story and screenplay." The parties settled on an undisclosed payment. An August 1953 item in Variety noted that agents Mark Herstein and Harold Cornsweet sued Reiseberg, Cohen and Universal for $25,000, asserting that Reiseberg made a deal with them to buy his book but then gave it to Cohen. The disposition of this suit has not been determined.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1953

Released in United States Spring March 1953

c Technicolor

Released in United States March 1953

Released in United States Spring March 1953