Underwater! (1955) – reviewed by George

This is a pleasant, mildly suspenseful tale of people diving for treasure which they hope no one else knows about. Reminds one of “The Deep”, “Reap the Wild Wind”, and even “Road to Bali”.
Two couples, one married (Jane Russell and Richard Egan) and one unmarried (Gilbert Roland and Lori Nelson), and a priest, Father Arrera (Robert Keith), constitute the crew. The married couple has sold things (like their boat, considered too small) and raised $4,800. The 50-foot schooner they are using is registered to Lori Nelson’s character through a tax dodge, but since the slightly crooked gentlemen who is the real owner is on the run, our heroes and heroines have its use.
The two men are old diving buddies and on a previous trip have located a wreck which subsequent library research, and the assessment of Father Arrera, have convinced them is a galleon with a cargo of gold, along with a golden statue of the Virgin, being shipped by the Church from Cuba to Europe before a pirate crew, which is on the way, can get to Cuba. It is only logical for Father Arrera to accompany them for authentication of anything they may retrieve.
They confirm the find, but the ship is lodged precariously in the crevice of a undersea cliff. They are using scuba, so at least they have no heavy air pipes connecting to above, although Father Arrera has to operate a mechanical wench to raise stuff.
Then they become the target of interest for a group of three heavily armed shark hunters (they sell the livers for a good price), headed by excellent character actor Joseph Calleia.
There are a few surprises, the underwater color photography is good, and the performances are uniformly competent. If that sounds like faint praise, it is only because the screenplay by Walter Newman asks little of the players. John Sturges, operating at the same level of relaxed competence, directed with an unusual lack of flair. Everyone was clearly having a good time, and that does not exactly weaken the movie, but it doesn’t energize it either.
“Underwater” was filmed in 3D, though of course TCM did not show it that way. Some of the scenes (particularly outdoor scenes of say, Gilbert Roland walking along the dock) have a loss of quality and focus, possibly due to the 3D process. Interiors and, as already said, underwater sequences still look good.
The song “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White” is heavily used without credit. The credits read “Music by Roy Webb”, but that refers to the background music. “Cherry Pink…” is specialty music, hummed and whistled by Gilbert Roland and played by a band in a club. The melody for the song was written by Louiguy in 1950. It was called “Cerisiers Roses et Pommiers Blancs”. Wikipedia says Perez Prado, who had the instrumental hit, first covered the melody in the film, where a band is seen playing it with the trumpet slides Prado would make famous present but reduced. The trumpeter who extended the slides on Prado’s hit recording was Billy Regis. I’ve seen sheet music for the song, complete with the English lyrics by Mack David, and the cover is Jane Russell in bathing suit and scuba mask with the legend “Underwater!” above her.
More: a cover of the song by Pat Boone was a major hit in the Philippines.

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