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Monday, January 19, 2015

Hell And High Water (1954)

In 1953, an atomic bomb of unknown origin has been exploded in the North Pacific ocean near the Arctic Circle. A private group of prominent international scientists, statesmen and businessmen concerned with world peace obtain an old WWII Japanese submarine and hire an ex-submarine commander (Richard Widmark) to go on an exploratory mission to the area. He will be accompanied by a world renowned scientist (Victor Francen) and his assistant (Bella Darvi). A rather run of the mill submarine adventure made all the more disappointing in that it was directed by the great Samuel Fuller. Fuller had no real interest in the film (and it shows) but did it as a favor to studio head Daryl F. Zanuck. It was Fuller's first film in CinemaScope and he handles the format quite well for a newbie, using the process's wide frame to effectively give a claustrophobic effect to the film's underwater submarine scenes. The film is saddled with Zanuck's then girlfriend Bella Darvi as the heroine. Personally, I thought she was effectively cast in THE EGYPTIAN where her performance received a lot of flak. Her inadequacies here justify the bad rap she unfairly got for the second film. Perhaps if someone else other than Fuller were the credited director, one could dismiss it as an innocuous cold war action flick but when you know how much more capable he is, its flaws are all the more glaring. Alfred Newman's score is not up to par. With Cameron Mitchell, David Wayne, Gene Evans and Richard Loo.

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