There’s something about a war film from the golden age of Hollywood. They still have blood, bullets, and bombs. More than that, they have a story. The story is the main course, the driving force. The “3 B’s” listed above are there because they have to be. It’s a war film after all. They aren’t the focus out front on display. Hollywood had to do things in a different way before CGI, or the modernization of special effects. A good film in those days had a good story, and good actors to tell it. The Enemy Below from 1957 is one such film.
Not every actor has to be good, and the lesser ones on the bill can get away with being rather “meh.” Think of the undercard of big main event. The Enemy Below has a stellar main event pitting an American battleship against a German U-Boat (submarine) during World War II. That’s the background, the general story line. To be more specific, it’s a battle of wits between the opposing captains. In one corner, fighting out of America, the legendary Robert Mitchum. The king of Hollywood’s cool between the reigns of Errol Flynn and Steve McQueen. In the other corner, fighting out of the Third Reich, Curd Jürgens. I can’t say enough about either actor’s film presence. Both actors are so good it’s easy to get drawn in to the story. Theirs is a game of cat and mouse with the roles interchanging with each move and countermove. Mitchum and Jürgens are the stars of the film, and without them, I don’t know if this would still be as enjoyable.
Not to say the story’s bad, but it’s not your typical war story. The Enemy Below steps beyond the boundaries of a simple war film, and journeys into the realm of a psychological thriller. Once again, we go back to Mitchum and Jürgens. They take us beyond the boundaries into this uncharted territory. It’s a good story, but even the best stories suffer when the wrong people tell it. At no time during the 90 plus minute runtime I did I lose attention.
I’d never heard of The Enemy Below and came across it by chance. I like old films, and old war films are no exception. How bad could it be? Not bad at all, and pretty damn good. If you like classic Hollywood war films, this a film worth watching. I’ll be adding The Enemy Below to my collection.
Copyright © Drew Martin 2016