Wonders of the Sea (1922)

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Documentary filmmaker J. Ernest Williamson was something of a 1920s Jacques Cousteau. He made a number of undersea pictures and this one has some tense moments. There's a slight story to go along with the shots of ocean life in the Bahamas -- it concerns a photographer who goes to shoot underwater, accompanied by a beautiful young lady and a stowaway boy -- but that's pretty incidental. More interesting is when Williamson and a pal spear a moray eel and are attacked by an octopus. A shark starts gnawing on the boat and is finally captured by the crew. All this was very new to the audiences of the day -- Williamson was a pioneer when it came to ocean cinematography. It was almost as fascinating to watch the diving bell being constructed as it was after the contraption was taken a whole 40 feet underwater to view plants and fish. The trade papers of the day suggested that exhibitors play up the picture's educational value.