Last night I threw on the Dick Powell-directed World War II film from 1957, The Enemy Below. I figured this would be a standard WWII procedural. Robert Mitchum is the captain of an American destroyer. Curt Jürgens is the commander of a German sub. And they battle each other, as much through wits as underwater bombs and torpedoes. But this significantly surpassed expectations. Other than a really dumb reconciliationist ending where the two sides bond over duty, it’s a very fine film. Jürgens is absolutely outstanding in this film. The submarine scenes are close to as intense as they would be in Das Boot 25 years later. Jürgens later stated how proud he was to be in this film because, at least according to him, it was the first time a Hollywood film had portrayed a German World War II officer as a real character. It’s not a perfect film. I’m not sure Mitchum really was the right person for this role, though he was far better than someone like John Wayne would have been. And again, the ending has its problems. I really had no idea Dick Powell even directed any films. But if this is indicative, he was pretty good at it. Solid work.
You can actually watch the whole thing on YouTube, but you can’t embed that, so here’s a scene: