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Fire Down Below

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Year: 1957
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Director: Dick Powell
Cast (in credits order):
Robert Mitchum ... Captain Murrell
Curt Jurgens ... Von Stolberg
David Hedison ... Lieutenant Ware
Theodore Bikel ... Schwaffer
Russell Collins ... Doctor
Kurt Kreuger ... Von Holem

Plot synopsis: In the South Atlantic during World War II, an American destroyer and a German U-boat play a deadly game of cat and mouse.

Verdict: Another solid Mitchum performance as Captain Murrell, who keeps a calm head during the military pursuit, despite a legitimate motive for revenge; He lost his fiancé to the dreaded U-boat.

Reviews: "Fine submarine chase tale." — Leonard Maltin Video Guide
"Robert Mitchum is surprisingly effective as the destroyer's commander. In fact, Robert Mitchum has become an able actor and should no longer be dismissed as merely a dimpled chin." — Films in Review

Behind the Scenes: Mitchum fractured his spine while making the film, the actor told biographer Jerry Roberts in Robert Mitchum: A Bio-Bibliography, "I was running across a deck and down a ladder, which ended below the horizon. I fell about 20 feet down to the next level. After the third day, I couldn't get out of bed. [The doctor told me] 'You have a broken back. Tough shit. You can't nail it together.' ... The first shot I had to do when I got back to work was lifting Theo Bikel over the rail. He was about a 260-er. I had to figure out a way to roll him onto my hips so I wouldn't strain my back."

The film originally had a much bleaker ending, with both captains dying after a major explosion, but the studio and audiences wouldn't go for it, so a more traditional ending was used.

Awards: The film won an Academy Award for its special effects.

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