Cast & Crew
In London in 1941, Adm. Russell struggles to locate and destroy the German raider Atlantis , which has been blowing up Allied warships in the Pacific Ocean. At sea, the Atlantis , led by Cmdr. Reger, is employing its customary ploy of sailing under camouflage in order to sneak up on enemy ships, which it can then destroy. To that end, the Atlantis is disguised as a Japanese cruise ship when they pull up alongside the British ship Christina and, after revealing their true flag, open fire. As the Christina 's sailors abandon ship at the order of Capt. Windsor, Reger takes them prisoner aboard the Atlantis and sends a signal in British code reversing their earlier distress call. Windsor fears poor treatment, but Reger scrupulously maintains humane conditions for his prisoners, earning him Windsor's respect. When information about the raid reaches Russell, he is able to determine from the details that the Atlantis is a surface vessel instead of a submarine, but the ship's appearance remains a crucial mystery. Soon after, Reger sights the merchant ship Abdullah and calls for its surrender. The captain raises a white flag, but then, greedy for a British reward, opens fire. Reger is forced to return fire, causing the death of many innocent passengers. The remaining passengers, including orphan children tended by nuns, the flirtatious Zizi and Jewish couple Sam and Sara Braun, are rescued and taken aboard. When Reger informs the Abdullah 's captain that he is being placed under arrest for endangering his passengers, Windsor agrees to stand witness against the man. Weeks later, the Atlantis , now disguised as the Calypso from Bombay, comes upon a British warship that refuses to allow it to pass. When the British captain insists on sending a search party on board, Reger is compelled to attack, instructing his men to guard to the safety of the civilians aboard the Atlantis . Soon after, Reger receives a coded message from a German U-boat seeking help, but when he asks it to name its position using the secret code called the "flower grid chart," the signal ends. Russell, who has sent the falsified signal in order to trap the Atlantis , realizes that he will never destroy the ship without the flower grid code. Knowing he is being hunted, Reger, who has now been at sea for over a year, stops the ship mid-ocean for a month until the Admiralty loses track of it. While Russell and intelligence director Col. Howard plan a covert operation to steal the code, at sea Zizi begins a romance with Lt. Krueger, not realizing that he is a Nazi. When the Abdullah captain reveals to Krueger that Sam and the pregnant Sara are Jewish, however, Krueger's anti-Semitism disgusts Zizi. The lieutenant insists to Reger that the Brauns be killed, but Reger refuses, stating that he treats all his prisoners equally. Meanwhile, at the German headquarters in Paris, British secret agent Knoche, who has undergone plastic surgery to resemble the German officer in charge of the flower grid code, begins the dangerous mission of infiltrating the office and photographing the code. Although he is nearly caught, Knoche escapes with the film, only to encounter outside the German officer he is impersonating, where he kills the man to evade detection. Meanwhile, Sara has given birth to her daughter, and to keep the family and the rest of the prisoners safe, Reger captures a Norwegian ship to transport them to land. Although sending the ship to a German-controlled port will keep the ship and passengers under German control, Reger insists on sending them to a neutral port, where the Brauns will not be threatened. The ailing Windsor voluntarily remains with Reger, and as the others sail away on the Norwegian ship, sing Brahms's "Lullaby" to Reger, acknowledging the debt they owe him. Later, armed with the secret code, Russell is able to pinpoint the position of the Atlantis , but in order to trap the wily commander, Russell knows he must use extreme caution. To this end, he painstakingly plans his trap, finally sending the HMS Devonshire to intercept the ship. By this time, Reger, who has now been at sea for almost two years, has rendezvoused with a German submarine. Spotting the Devonshire , he camouflages his ship as the British Polyphemus and plants his seamen on deck disguised in women's dresses. Hoping to lure the Devonshire close enough to attack it with the submerged submarine, if necessary, Reger allows the heavily armed warship to draw closer. He sends a "cease" signal in British code, forcing Russell in London to scramble to discern whether or not the signal came from the real Polyphemus . When Russell finally receives word from the real Polyphemus , he orders the Devonshire to open fire on the Atlantis . Krueger demands that they return fire, but Reger, knowing that remaining quiescent will leave the British unsure of whether or not they have attacked the correct vessel, refuses and orders his men to abandon ship. As Reger considers going down with his ship, a wounded Windsor collapses in his arms and instructs him to save himself, as a worthy soldier and a good man. Before jumping off, Reger instructs the remaining sailors to set an explosive so that the Atlantis will be completely destroyed, and thus unable to be identified. Back at the Admiralty, Russell realizes that he will never be sure if he has destroyed the correct ship, and grudgingly admires his worthy rival.
Eleonora Rossi Drago
Edith Arlene Peters
Alfredo De Laurentiis
Dino De Laurentiis
Manuel Del Campo
William Douglas Home
Ralph B. Serpe
The Italian release title of the co-production was Sotto dieci bandiere. The film begins with the following written statement: "However incredible they May seem the events narrated in this picture actually occurred." The story ends with this written statement: "This picture is based upon events which actually occurred during a series of Naval actions in 1940-41. Bernhard Rogge, Captain of the German raider at that time, is now, as a German officer, a Commander for NATO in the Territorial Allied Naval Forces."
A July 30, 1998 Hollywood Reporter article reported that the WGA had added blacklisted writer Leonardo Bercovici to the film's screenwriting credits. Although an onscreen credit reads "Based on the original diaries by Bernhard Rogge," reviews noted that some material was based on Rogge's autobiography, Schiff 16; die 655 Tage Kaperfahrt des schweren Hilfskreuzers 'Atlantis' in den sieben Weltmeeren. The book's first British publication date was 1957, and lists 1955 copyright. It is possible that 1955 was the date of the original publication in Germany. The film's co-writer and technical advisor, Ulrich Mohr, who was Rogge's assistant, also wrote an autobiography published in 1955 under the title Atlantis; the Story of a German Surface Raider.
The film closely follows the historical events it depicts. As shown in the film, the Atlantis was a German raider ship that adapted various disguises in order to capture Allied ships. The ship carried props, costumes, flags and paint to alter her appearance. The Atlantis was captained by Rogge, called Reger in the film, who sailed for 665 days straight during 1940-41, sinking twenty-two enemy ships. As depicted in Under Ten Flags, during his command, Rogge treated his captives with great humanity and respect. The Atlantis was sunk on November 21, 1941 by the British warship H.M.S. Devonshire. Rogge was subsequently named an admiral and, as noted onscreen, became a NATO Commander.
Although an August 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Under Ten Flags was to be shot in Italy and Greece, press materials note that the film was shot on location in Syracuse, Sicily and in the Ionian Sea, with additional scenes shot in the Vasca Navale Studio in Rome. Reviews stated that some of the footage of ships was taken at sea, while other shots were captured in studio tanks or with the use of small-scale models. The vessel that served as the Atlantis was identified in a February 1960 New York Times article as the cargo ship the Maristella. That article noted that the Maristella, shot from different angles, also stood in for some of the victimized Allied ships.
A September 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Maximilian Schell had been cast in the film, with Laurence Olivier and James Mason "slugging it out" for another role. As noted in a December 1959 Hollywood Reporter news item, Rogge visited the set during production in Italy. Although press materials add Rome newspaper correspondents John Francis Lane and Walter Lucas to the cast, and Hollywood Reporter news items list Charles Nolte, James Dobson and Robert Cunningham, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
Hollywood Reporter reported in January 1960 that Twentieth Century-Fox was protesting the film's title as being too similar to its 1936 release, Under Two Flags (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). In June 1960, the film played at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Golden Bear award.
Reviews of Under Ten Flags were mixed. Many critics commented on the uneven editing, resulting in confusion as to where and who certain characters were, as well as the fact that most of the actors had American accents. Charles Laughton drew criticism from some reviewers for overacting or imitating Winston Churchill, with the Los Angeles Times reviewer stating, "He pulls out all the stops on the famous Laughton harmonium."
Released in United States 1960
Released in United States 1960