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U-boat Duel

May 2024
1min read

The Enemy Below

directed by Dick Powell, CBS/Fox War Classics Collection, 98 mins., $19.95 . CODE: BAT -2

Beneath a turquoise South Atlantic sky, a Buckley -class destroyer escort under the command of Robert Mitchum fights a single-ship duel with a German U-boat. Although the German skipper, Curt Jurgens, says the Hitler-is-a-madman-who-has-disgraced-our-profession-of-arms stuff that was pro forma for World War II movies in 1957 (when this one was made), he is nonetheless a canny, almost clairvoyant seaman who is determined to come out of the engagement alive, and the moves and countermoves become increasingly complex and perilous. Shown the movie a couple of months back, one North Atlantic destroyer-escort veteran exclaimed at the beginning, “How the hell did I miss this when it came out?,” then watched hypnotized as Mitchum dropped his depth charges and fired his K-guns, every now and then murmuring, “That’s just the way it was.” When the movie ended, he said, “Wonderful!” and then added, with proprietary satisfaction, “Wasn’t the DE a fine-looking warship!”

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