It's Mitchum vs. Jurgens as the commanders of an American destroyer and a German U-boat play a deadly game of cat and mouse.
The Enemy Below
and Sink the Bismarck!
form a double feature of semi-classic CinemaScope-era WWII naval dramas sailing from the Fox vault onto DVD for the first time.
In The Enemy Below Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens are respectively captains of a US destroyer and a German U-boat whose vessels come into conflict in the South Atlantic. Both are good men with a job to do, the script noting Jurgens' distaste for Hitler and the Nazis and engaging our sympathy with the German sailors almost as much as the Americans. Made at the height of the Cold War of the 1950s, the film delivers a liberal message of cooperation wrapped inside some spectacular action scenes and a story that builds to a tense and exciting, moving finale.
Sink the Bismarck! is a British film dating from three years later and adopts a more documentary style in recounting the race against time to track and destroy what was in 1941 the most powerful battleship then built, the Bismarck. Shot in gleaming black and white so as to make use of genuine WWII archive footage, the film is held together by the introduction of a fictional naval officer in overall command of the operation, played excellently by Kenneth More. To add some human warmth he is given a tentative romantic subplot with a WREN played by the luminous Dana Wynter. Though initially slow to gather steam, Sink the Bismarck! finally delivers an epic, thoroughly horrifying conclusion.
On the DVD: The Enemy Below and Sink the Bismarck! come as a two-disc set with multiple language and subtitle options, including English for Hard of Hearing, but no extras other than the original trailers. These are presented at 16:9 and 2.35:1. Both are rather faded, but are fine examples of an era when watching the previews didn't guarantee a migraine. Both films are anamorphically enhanced in their original 2.35:1 CinemaScope, and, bar a little grain in some shots and the inevitably inferior archive footage, the picture quality is excellent. The Enemy Below boasts sturdy three-channel sound (left, front, right) while Sink the Bismarck! is in very well mixed stereo. --Gary S Dalkin
--This text refers to an alternate