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Beneath the 12-Mile Reef
     

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

Director: Robert D. Webb, Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Gilbert Roland

Cast: Robert D. Webb, Robert Wagner, Terry Moore, Gilbert Roland

 

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At the time of its release, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef was considered more notable for its technical achievements than its artistic virtues, a judgment that is still valid, up to a point. It wasn't the most earth-shattering drama ever made, though the performances seem better than they were probably given credit for being at the time. 20th Century Fox's second

Overview

At the time of its release, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef was considered more notable for its technical achievements than its artistic virtues, a judgment that is still valid, up to a point. It wasn't the most earth-shattering drama ever made, though the performances seem better than they were probably given credit for being at the time. 20th Century Fox's second Cinemascope production starred Robert Wagner (at the height of his male ingénue phase) and Terry Moore in a modern Romeo and Juliet story. He plays Tony Petrakis, the cocky but good-hearted son of Greek sponge fisherman Mike Petrakis (Gilbert Roland), who fishes the area off the Florida coast. The fiercest rivals of Petrakis and his fellow Greek fishermen are the English-descended hook-boat fishermen -- led by Thomas Rhys (Richard Boone) -- who are prepared to kill anyone who intrudes on their established territory. Mike Petrakis has already had one run-in with Arnold, a protégé of Rhys' and the would-be husband of Rhys' daughter, who doesn't know when to back off. In the midst of their conflict, which has come close to gunshots being exchanged, Tony meets Gwyneth Rhys (Terry Moore), Thomas' daughter. She's fascinated by this handsome young Greek who doesn't seem afraid to fight back against men bigger, older, and tougher than he is. The two end up falling in love, much to the consternation of their two families and their friends. Mike later dies in a tragic diving accident, in the aftermath of which his boat is looted and burned at the instigation of Arnold. The elder Rhys turns out to be a better and fairer man than Arnold, who mercilessly beats Tony after catching him off guard. Tony and Gwyneth end up running off together in her hook-boat, with Arnold and her father in hot pursuit, ready to kill him. Only Thomas Rhys' basic decency and Tony's bravery -- coupled with Arnold's cowardice, lust, and anger -- manages to get the conflict settled, in a surprising (and convincing) resolution.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Robert Webb's Beneath the 12-Mile Reef was only the second movie ever shot in Cinemascope at 20th Century Fox, and it presented challenges all the way around. The use of Cinemascope underwater was something entirely new and shooting in color underwater offered potential pitfalls as well. Webb succeeded, mostly with help from two central performances -- by Gilbert Roland and Richard Boone -- that had a lot of heart (this might be Roland's best movie), and the extraordinarily beautiful, Oscar-nominated cinematography by Edward J. Cronjager. Those virtues were all topped off by one of the finest scores ever written by Bernard Herrmann, the composer making full use of the range of timbrel effects and stereo separation in creating a dazzling musical accompaniment to the action. The drama itself is fairly routine, distinguished mostly by Roland and Boone's performances, though Robert Wagner and Terry Moore do try hard in what cannot have been an easy shoot, with lots of location work involved. There is also a surprising degree of depth and subtlety to the script that may be lost amid the brawling, violence, and threats of violence. This is very much a movie of its time, its plot steeped in issues of prejudice and the perceptions of prejudice. The Rhyses and the other American-born fishermen despise the Greeks as interlopers and poachers, but Gwyneth Rhys and her father are smarter than the others, recognizing in Tony and his father qualities of bravery and honor that they can respect and admire. They also see in Arnold (Peter Graves), one of their own, a lot of qualities that they come to despise. This element of the script may seem simplistic by modern standards, but it makes Beneath the 12-Mile Reef a much more serious film than it's usually perceived as being. This script would not have been written that way, or the film shot to such a script, a decade earlier, and its social subtext is one of the elements that has helped it maintain its audience across 50 years. Most viewers, however, will probably be drawn first to the film's technical virtues. The combination of Cinemascope and color in the underwater sequences are worth the price of admission, creating an enveloping effect that is completed by Herrmann's score. Alternately bright and exuberant, or dark and ominous, the music incorporates elements of impressionism in its unusual sonorities (including a cadenza for nine harps that anticipated a similar, better-known piece of music that he wrote for the movie Journey to the Center of the Earth six years later). The haunting melodies that crop up throughout are a delight to the audience, without ever overwhelming the visual component of the picture. Herrmann's music for this film was so strong and memorable that parts of his score were still being excerpted by Fox's music department more than a decade later for use in other productions. To be appreciated properly, the movie must be seen in widescreen, fully letterboxed, in one of its better home video editions. The copyright on Beneath the 12-Mile Reef lapsed in 1981, and since then it has been heavily bootlegged on videocassette, in mostly not very attractive versions. In the 1990s, however, a preservation-quality 35 mm Scope print turned up in the hands of a collector, and this has since become the source for an excellent letterboxed edition of the movie (with stereo sound) on laserdisc from Lumivision and DVD from Slingshot Entertainment.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/16/2016
UPC:
0889290917706
Original Release:
1953
Source:
Mr Fat - W Video
Time:
1:43:00
Sales rank:
72,136

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Wagner Tony Petrakis
Terry Moore Gwyneth Rhys
Gilbert Roland Mike Petrakis
J. Carrol Naish Soak
Richard Boone Thomas Rhys
Angela Clarke Mama
Peter Graves Arnold
Jay Novello Sinan
Jacques Aubuchon Sofotes
Gloria Gordon Penny
Harry Carey Griff
Charles Wagenheim Paul
Marc Krah Fat George
Jonathan Jackson Lt. Bryant
Frank Joyner Captain of Snapper
William Johnstone Crewman of Snapper
Rush Williams David Rhys

Technical Credits
Robert D. Webb Director
Robert Bassler Producer
A.I. Bezzerides Screenwriter
Edward J. Cronjager Cinematographer
Bernard Herrmann Score Composer,Songwriter
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Ray Kellogg Special Effects
Ben Nye Makeup
William H. Reynolds Editor
Fred J. Rode Set Decoration/Design
Lyle Wheeler Art Director

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