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Sink the Bismarck / The Enemy Below (2-Disc Double Pack) [DVD] (1960/1957)
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A double bill of naval World War 2 films. 'The Enemy Below' takes place in the North Atlantic. An American destroyer detects a German U-boat and the US commander, Captain Murrell (Robert Mitchum), embarks on a game of cat and mouse with his German counterpart (Curt Jurgens). Walter Rossi won an Oscar for his special effects. Whilst 'Sink the Bismarck!' is Lewis Gilbert's dramatic re-telling of the Allied mission in the Spring of 1941 to find and destroy Germany's largest battleship, the Bismarck. The story is told from two angles, the ships involved and the war-room in London where Captain John Shepherd (Kenneth More) plots the manouevres using models of the ships. Shepherd has an emotional reason for wanting the battleship sunk, his wife was recently killed in a German raid on London and his son is missing in action, and struggles to keep his emotions in line whilst making decisions that effect hundreds of lives. The final scenes are a mixture of newsreel of the battle and up-dated special effects.
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 DalkinSee all Product description
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I'm still undecided about the way the film ends,just as I was thirty years ago,because while I know about the sometimes mentioned"Brotherhood of the Sea",has been known to overcome national enmities in extreme situations,I very much doubt that the events as characterized here,had any foundation in reality,the hatred and fear of submarine warfare was just too intense. Still,its a nice,treacly ending for a wet Sunday afternoons viewing,no bad language either,and Curt Jurgens final four words to Mitchum on the fantail of the destroyer,are memorable,and must have kept the director happy!
It is a story of war, death and battles, but it is also a story of courage, respect and friendship. The acting is very good and the "locations" a battleship and a submarine in the middle of the ocean and yet it covers the world of people involved in the war, on death always not too far away, at a resolution that could be decided by the flip of a coin or the push of a button. Really a very good film.
"The Enemy Below" is of course a German submarine hunted by a US destroyer in a cat-and-mouse duel in which both commanders come to respect each other's tactical skill. The hunt ends in mutual destruction of both vessels, nevertheless with a plausibly "feel-good" conclusion to the film.
Whilst on routine patrol in the Second World War, Robert Mitchum's destroyer happens across a German submarine commanded by Curt Jurgens. What follows is a superior drama as a game of cat and mouse ensues.
What makes this a better than average entry in the genre is that we get to see the action both above and below the waves. Both commanders and crews are well developed, making them believable and making us interested in both of them. Mitchum and Jurgens are both believable as the commanders, showing two weary but experienced men in a fight to the end, but each with a great respect for their adversary. It's well directed, well scripted and well acted, making for a very entertaining film. And I have to say I really did not see the finale coming!
This 20th Century Fox Studio Classics presents the film in 2.35:1 aspect ratio with a 4.0 sound. Both picture and soundtrack have been nicely transferred and it looks and sounds good.
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