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City Beneath the Sea 1953

I am an adventure movie junkie. Movies like this prove that you don't need CGI to make a movie that's worth watching.

Classic Adventure Movie

Undersea Adventure

Undersea Adventure

This under water adventure tale is based on the book Port Royal: The Ghost City Beneath the Sea by Harry E. Rieseberg. It follows two deep sea salvage divers who have been hired to find the sunken wreckage of the missing ship, the Lady Luck. The vessel presumably sank with all hands being dragged to watery deaths but she also bears the booty of one million dollars in gold bullion. Greed is a powerful motivator so the divers take to the task with relish.

Set in Jamaica in the 1950's, this movie reminds me of why blockbusters like Raiders of the Lost Ark enjoy so much success. Exotic locations, daring challenges and never a dull moment, you are strapped into your seat until the very last frame of screen time.

I watch a lot of adventure flicks like this but this one stands out because of the cast. From the moment the story opens I was riveted. I saw two guys strutting down the gangway as they deboard a ship to begin a new undertaking. I knew immediately that these two men were going to take me for a ride I would be telling my friends about because I recognized them like they were old friends. Their names were Robert Ryan and Anthony Quinn.

A Hard Man

Tough Guy Robert Ryan

Tough Guy Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan

Roberty Ryan, sadly no longer with us, still provides us with an enduring legacy of entertainment through his body of work. Often remembered as a screen heavy in film noir flicks, Ryan always made an impression on his audience. Do yourself a favor and watch The Set-Up (1949), in which he plays an aging boxer. You'll feel smug as you boast to your friends about the forgotten screen gem that you have found.

By contrast to his reputation as a movie heavy, in this film Ryan plays a pretty decent, friendly guy who goes out of his way to act with honor and look after his friend, portrayed by Anthony Quinn. But that doesn't mean he is a straight-laced fellow who bores you with his Dudley-do-right routine. Ryan's talent as an actor keeps you watching intently just to see how he's going to react next. He almost plays the straight guy to Quinn's more rambunctious character and that disparity between the two of them naturally makes us wonder about the history they have shared. What capers have these two gents endured together?


Anthony Quinn

Who doesn't love Anthony Quinn? He has given us so much over the length of his career including Mobsters (1991), Barabbus (1961) and so very many more. A unique presence, Quinn made every role his own that could never be duplicated or even imitated by any other actor which is one of the reasons that he is remembered as a legend that we can't get enough of. In City Beneath the Sea, Quinn is the bold brawler who you want to go out drinking and chasing girls with, knowing that you are guaranteed to have a rough and tumble time you will reminisce about for the rest of your life.

I usually think of Quinn as a lone-wolf kind of character who doesn't really chum around with the guys but he makes you want him as a friend with his performance in this story. In fact, it's his chemistry with co-star Robert Ryan that lifts this movie above the other B-movies of the time. You wish these guys were your friends but your tension builds as you grow to fear that there will be a split between them. But what could come between such pals as these men? What could possibly come between them? Greed.


Before Indiana Jones

Before Indiana Jones

Adventure vs Action

My personal opinion. Modern action films have forgone the adventure part and focus mostly on the effects, seeming to believe that the bigger and the more copious the explosions are then the better the movie will be. This movie, City Beneath the Sea, is a great example of why adventure films are my preference. This movie is driven by the chemistry between the two leads and, even though there aren't mega-effects like you might see in a natural disasters movie, the action still keeps you tense and excited.

There are some great straight action movies, don't get me wrong, but I think a movie is better with some engaging story. This movie, like a lot of classic adventure movies, gives us solid story, interesting characters and something else that I enjoy a great deal...a unique environment. I'm not sure why, but I am a sucker for undersea movies. I think it's because I don't get to experience that world very much in movies so it's different and full of potential to me.

City Beneath the Sea trailer

Buy City Beneath the Sea

Would You?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Dale Anderson


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 22, 2020:

Thanks, Dale. I'll let you know if I need a link to see this movie. In the evenings if there is nothing else that appeals to me on television, that is the time that I like to watch movies or read a good book. Both are ways of relaxing after a busy day.

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on September 21, 2020:

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Peggy if you need a link to watch this movie, let me know. I might be able to send you one that will let you watch it for free.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 21, 2020:

We have been watching more movies than ever due to the pandemic. I love many of the old ones. I'll have to see if we can locate this one. I can just picture your cat sitting upright with you when watching movies together. My mother once had a Lhasa apso dog that did that. And he would also smile!

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on December 31, 2018:

I find, generally speaking, that the new, 'modern' movies have a lot less story in them. The characters are more caricatures and don't feel real or believable.

Nell Rose from England on December 30, 2018:

I have seen this film, and I love all the old movies, They were so much better than the modern ones.

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on June 27, 2018:

I'm a bit of an easy sell when it comes to these kinds of movies. Probably a sure sign of a mis-spent youth!

Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on June 27, 2018:

It looks like the SeaQuest TV show was based on this.

Robert Sacchi on May 25, 2018:

That seems like fun. I use to love watching the "Creature Feature" movies in the dorm.

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on May 25, 2018:

Agreed! ASome friends of mine have been hosting a Bad Movie Night for years where we all get together to watch movies you might consider bad. It is always a great night.

Robert Sacchi on May 24, 2018:

Yes, although sometimes the bad ones are more fun.

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on May 24, 2018:

Movies are kind of frustrating, aren't they? You could lock yourself in a room and do nothing but watch films and you would still never be able to see all of the good ones. But you should still try to see them all!

Robert Sacchi on May 23, 2018:

Thank you for reviewing this movie. There are other movies with similar names so it's good you highlighted this one. Maybe I'll catch it on TCM sometime.

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on September 08, 2017:

I hear you, Peggy! I have two cats and one of them in particular (the little black one) comes to sit next to me and watch movies. He makes me laugh because he sits completely upright just like a person and watches the whole time.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2017:

Another reason that we often prefer staying at home to watch movies is that our buddies (cat and dog) can be with us. They appreciate it!

We also avoid the rude people in movie theaters. That is a plus. I hear you about making those painful choices. Haha!

Dale Anderson (author) from The High Seas on September 08, 2017:

Peggy I am torn asunder on the cinema versus home viewing issue. There are many things that I dislike about the theater going experience (usually the screaming kids and the rudeness of others) but I LOVE actually going to the movies! Oh the painful choices we have to make in life!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 08, 2017:

The preview of this movie made it seem exciting and it would definitely be one that I would enjoy viewing. I voted to view it at home. That is where we watch most movies these days unless it is one that truly needs to be seen on a larger screen.

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