The Enemy Below - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Enemy Below Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 28, 2008
Two fine actors Mitchum and Jurgens make this worth watching.
Super Reviewer
May 31, 2010
A real nail-biter of a film about a naval destroyer, captained by Robert Mitchum, playing cat and mouse during WWII with a German U-Boat, captained by Curt Jurgens. The film doesn't pick sides for the most part, showing respect for both crews, and particularly both captains as they try to predict each other's moves. It shows that even though we may be "enemies" politically, we are not really any different from each other. Such a good film I was almost late for work because I needed to see how it ended.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2009
It's Curd Jürgens vs. Robert Mitchum in this technically accurate battle of wits. An American destroyer stalks a German U-boat across the South Atlantic. An intelligent homage to WWII sailors on both sides.
Super Reviewer
½ October 12, 2010
One of the better films made about submarine and anti-submarine warfare, The Enemy Below takes a unique dual view of the action. It's basically a duel between an escort vessel and the U-Boat that they are hunting, a scenario that's been used in other films like it. While it suffers from the obviously propagandist nature of World War 2 films, it's better than most when it comes to the human non-political nature of this kind of warfare. Curt Jurgens plays his German opponent with his usual grim-faced vigor.

The depiction of the action is pretty good by the standards of the day, although the plot is somewhat predictable. The destroyer escort depicted is accurate as to class, and actual crew of a real US destroyer escort were extras in the film. The U-Boat set is less impressive, and fails to capture the cramped nature of the small German boats in the Atlantic. Das Boot still remains the best of this genre, but Enemy Below is pretty competent as to tactics and devices used. Based on a book by a former British Navy officer, the whole scenario closely resembles similar ram-and-sink incidents in the North Atlantic convoy actions.

Robert Mitchum played a number of naval officers during his long and varied career, but this is one of his better gutsy performances.
Super Reviewer
May 9, 2008
Brilliant. Love the underse death aspect.
March 5, 2014
There are worse WWII movies involving submarines, but that says more about the genre than the quality of the movie. Curt Jurgens is good as the u-boat commander. Robert Mitchum walks through his role as a destroyer skipper.
February 1, 2014
I've watched submarine movies since I was a kid and this is the all time very best. Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens were perfect down to their last lines. Great story and great ending.
½ January 27, 2012
This plays right into my idea of what psychological warfare is all about. And one of the reasons I like this movie is that the plot seemed so similar to a "Star Trek" episode which I enjoyed (and didn't find out, until recently, had actually been inspired by this very same movie). Mitchum just seems perfect playing an officer (much like his role in "The Longest Day"), and Jurgens as his counterpart seems a perfect opponent (I don't really want to call him a villain, as he is playing the role of a German officer, rather than the goose-stepping Nazi type (reference the commandant in "The Great Escape", a member of the Luftwaffe, who is fulfilling his duties, but has much disdain for the politics of the Nazi party).
½ April 5, 2010
WWII Navy flick. Long, tedious pursuit of German u-boat sub made me take many breaks to freshen up. The depth charges unfortunately never stop in this cat-and-mouse action-suspense drama.

Mitchum and Curt Jurgens, by now established actors, are portrayed as two philosophers in uniform. The humane, as opposed to the often told inhumane, side of war and the toll it takes on these two captains is refreshingly explored.

Our U.S. ship and crew are bored floating around in the south Atlantic. They get a new captain who the ship's aged doctor befriends. Mitchum, fresh out of the hospital after having survived at sea, is treated skeptically by the crew who believe he is inexperienced for the job. They soon learn he isn't as bad as they imagined. But where he got his sub chasing skills we don't know. Hey, its a movie ok?

The film was based on a popular book at the time, The Enemy Below. Director Dick Powell makes an over selling trailer about the film, but that's what trailers often do, oversell.
I tend to watch trailers after I watch a film and not often find them very honest. For me, such was the case here.

Filmed in Cinemascope the movie is pretty well done, but the depth charges got to be endless and like two heavyweight boxers getting tired of throwing punches, the film sinks to the canvass as we wait for this one to end.

It does end, a creative but rather unrealistic one. Both captains sharing cigarettes on a ship was flat out Hollywood and to me, not real honest. After an hour and a half of trying to kill each other, this film becomes a morality play. Maybe things like this really did happen at sea?

Run Silent, Run Deep is my pick over The Enemy Below as an action flick. The scene that sunk this film for me was the Germans singing an old drinking song as they were near death's door on the bottom. By that time I got the message about what war does to combatants. The German captain spells it out clear as day when he complains that humans were taken out of wars.

I would wish to see a vintage WWII submarine film where for once the enemy is not sweating, in their underwear, running around oily and desperate. Where, unlike this film, the captain is not aged and tired of war. Of course, our Navy men are fresh as daisys, playing cards or doing whatever sailors do for relaxation.

To its credit however we don't see too many scenes of carnage in this late fifties sea chase. What we do see is two crews, two ships and two captains alone at sea doing what they'd rather not be doing.

There in a nutshell is the summation of The Enemy Below. The irony of it all. One could have just as well titled this one The Enemy Above.

NOTES about the film:

1 Curt Jürgens as Captain Von Stolberg in reality was imprisoned by order of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels during World War II.

2 Theodore Bikel played the second in command to Curt Jurgens in reality was an immigrant Austrian Jew who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1924. He and his family fled to America by way of Palestine in 1937.

3 The U-boat in the film is very unrealistic in its size. It has passageways and side rooms, with the captain having a private stateroom off the control center. No World War II U-boat had staterooms and the captain's bunk was little more than a shelf across a small passage from the radio room, which was itself merely a small closet.

4 The crew in this film is also much neater and cleaner than a real crew would have been. (For a more realistic portrayal of life aboard a U-boat, see Das Boot).

5 The 1966 Star Trek episode "Balance of Terror" is closely based on this film, with the USS Enterprise cast as the destroyer and the Romulan vessel as the U-boat.

Directed by legend actor Dick Powell
Produced by legend actor Dick Powell
Written by Wendell Mayes
Denys Rayner (novel)
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Editing by Stuart Gilmore

Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 25, 1957 (NYC premiere)


Robert Mitchum as Captain Murrell

Curt Jürgens as Kapitän von Stolberg. (see NOTE 1)

Theodore Bikel as 'Heinie' Schwaffer, von Stolberg's second in command. (see NOTE 2)

Al Hedison as Lieutenant Ware, the executive officer of the Haynes

Russell Collins as Doctor, USS Haynes
Kurt Kreuger as Von Holem
Frank Albertson as Lieutenant Junior Grade Crain, USS Haynes
Biff Elliot as Quartermaster, USS Haynes

Doug McClure, in his film debut, as Ensign Merry, USS Haynes

Running time 98 minutes

½ March 22, 2010
79/100. I feel Robert Mitchum is the most under appreciated actor of his time. For some reason at that time he wasn?t considered a skilled actor, all the attention went to Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, William Holden and Marlon Brando. His performances in Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, The Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear are three of the best performances of all time. He is excellent in The Enemy Below as well. Great story with a fascinating plot and characters that evolve beautifully. It?s a good study of human nature and respect. Good cinematography, very well produced. Suspenseful and intriguing, with a rousing score.
½ March 22, 2010
79/100. I feel Robert Mitchum is the most under appreciated actor of his time. For some reason at that time he wasn't considered a skilled actor, all the attention went to Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster, William Holden and Marlon Brando. His performances in Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, The Night of the Hunter and Cape Fear are three of the best performances of all time. He is excellent in The Enemy Below as well. Great story with a fascinating plot and characters that evolve beautifully. It's a good study of human nature and respect. Good cinematography, very well produced. Suspenseful and intriguing, with a rousing score.
½ November 9, 2008
The subpar acting and script kept this film from kicking ass. Also the ending defies physics in the worst kind of way.
½ June 8, 2007
Kurt Jurgens and Robert Mitchum are great. This movie actually plays out the "down time" in a suspenseful way that really works.
½ March 17, 2007
Robert Mitchum puts in a decent performance as a destroyer captain in this World War II sea drama. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast are unconvincing. Jamaican Rastafarians would have been closer to authentic German accents than what this movie offers. The American sailers aren't much more believable.

Despite its faults, though, "The Enemy Below" is still an interesting study in post World War II drama. Put into the context of the decade following the war, this story seems to be as much a commentary on the era of the Marshall Plan as it is about the matching of wits of two experienced sea captains. As such, it probably does deserve a place as a war classic.
January 17, 2007
Here another Mitchum film is a match of wits between an American naval officer and a German submarine Captain. A 1 of a kind in its type of movie it has a twist showing both sides . A must see.
½ September 25, 2006
(Note - on my reviews from now on, I'm going to attempt to put an ultracondensed plot synopsis so you can get a quick sense of what kind of movie it is without having to look it up.)

This was a pretty decent movie. It's about an American submarine chasing a German one during World War II, which doesn't sound like all that interesting a plot synopsis to me. The back of the DVD described it as "a game of cat-and-mouse," and, honestly, that's what it felt like. It was actually fascinating to watch the German captain trying everything he knew to get away from the American sub, so he could complete his mission. A bit of political stuff about war, but the movie didn't feel like a political diatribe.

My only real complaint about the movie was some of the stuff at the end. The ending just didn't feel right. All of them seem to be peacefully co-inhabiting. Is there *no one* on either sub who's going to react negatively toward the other side? Other than that, though, pretty good movie. Probably wouldn't watch it again, though.
½ September 26, 2006
A bit unrealistic in some of its sentiment in the submarine, but still a classic, and a good look at yet another small part of the War. Our veterans are dying out, but we must never forget and fail to understand this great and pivotal moment in U.S. and world history.
½ June 3, 2015
Pretty standard movie for its time, although one of the few that wasn't based off a historic battle or something along that line. we do get to see it in colour which is nice, and we are treated with the same actors that every war movie of the time starred. The sets are nice, maybe a bit too clean and layed back for a fighting ship however. The destroyer is all filmed aboard a real destroyer off Hawaii, and I'm sure the U-boat is portrayed by a mock up, used for surface shots only, while the underwater model they used is very convincing, and for the time one of the best special effects in a war movie I've seen. In inside of the U-boat is quite obviously not a real one, and although I haven't been able to find information on it, it's probably a mock up or a more modern American sub. The acting and script are typical of the era, and so is the comradeship that is shown between the two commanders. The underwater explosions simulating death chargers are very good, as are the on deck explosions in the final duel. But the real depth charges going off from the on deck view are simply amazing, and we see the same explosions today in U-571, which is decades ahead in special effects and the likes. It is a good naval film, a theatre of war not covered well, simply because of the need for a huge budget for both a ship and a crapload of CGI needed to make it. It's among the better ones however, not as modern but better done than Pearl Harbor, although it does lag behind almost all of the great submarine movies, notably Das Boot, which is in an entirely different ball park. However good classic war flick, pretty casual now, but a big step forward in its time, and it still shines today.
½ January 18, 2016
Psychological warfare between German sub and American destroyer.
July 2, 2015
Excellent war movie. Mitchum and Jurgens are both brilliant in this film. Watch it.
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