Enemy Below, The (1957)

The Enemy Below (1957), produced and directed by Dick Powell.

One of the classic submarine warfare movies. A lone American destroyer escort stalks and is stalked by a German u-boat in a contest of skill between two crafty commanders.

The opposing captains are just what we want: Robert Mitchum is a cool citizen-soldier, laid-back and competent. His wife was killed in a u-boat attack but it is not a personal war for him; he just wants to get it over. Curt Jurgens is a war-weary, anti-nazi old timer. Neither man enjoys the job any more, but both will strive to kill the other.

The strong parts of the story are (1) the hunt and battles, and (2) the characters of the two opponents. This is wrapped in some standard war-movie fluff: colorful seamen and lots of talk-talk, although that serves to build our knowledge of the captains.

Twelve years after the end of the war we see no hard feelings: the Americans do what they can to rescue their enemies and treat them respectfully as prisoners.

Does the climactic action scene seem improbable? Ships ramming u-boats during battle happened several times during the war.

The Navy provided a real ship and crew and the technical details of sub hunting are all accurate as far as I know. The depth charge photography is spectacular. The clean and roomy u-boat interior is not at all realistic: compare with Das Boot (1981).