The Enemy Below (1957)

Genres - War  |   Sub-Genres - Combat Films, War Drama  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

Eschewing romantic subplots, patriotic propaganda, and much of the other nonsense that Hollywood tends to throw into combat pictures, 1957's The Enemy Below stands as a superb example of the battle-of-wills type of tactical film. One of the earliest post-World War II films to give a personal face to a heroic enemy, the film nicely avoids taking sides between the two ship captains. The performances by Curd Jurgens, as the sub commander, and Robert Mitchum as his surface counterpart, are both first-rate. The details of the naval combat have a feeling of authenticity, and it's fun for the audience to play along as the two foes attempt to outwit each other. The film has two significant weaknesses. The Oscar-winning special effects at times really do look like the toy ships in a tub that they are, and the intensity of the chase is undermined by a needlessly contrived ending. Where 1958's Run Silent, Run Deep concerns itself with internal crew conflicts and presages such films as Crimson Tide, The Enemy Below was the model for Star Trek's "Balance of Terror" episode, and presages such realistic submarine films as Das Boot.