Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Enemy Below

The War Film of the week was The Enemy Below with Robert Mitcham the star of the Winds of War my bedtime reading and Curt Jurgans. In both films Mitcham plays USA Naval captain and in The Enemy Below he has lost his wife but his response is professional and not personals. Jurgans plays the commander of a German U Boat determined to get his crew back home after a along and successful series of missions at sea. The two men become engaged in a protracted  cat and mouse battle in white the strains tell on both crews. As the tension mounts Jurgans works out the tactics and in a final desperate attempt to get away launches all four torpedoes in a read pattern knowing that failure will to lead to being sunk or surrendering. His ploy works and one torpedo strikes the destroyer midriff which leads Mitcham to make his own final ploy pretending the ship is more badly damaged and sinking quicker than it is, and which enables him to drive his ship onto the deck of the submarine which has come to the surface for the kill.

Mitcham is about to leave after all his crew are in life crafts when he notes that the German Captain is trying to get a wounded colleague to safety knowing that he has set the detonator for the submarine to self destruct. He goes to the aid of the captain and their respective men in a lifeboat seeing those go back to help the to escape. The final scene is on board a USA rescue craft that answered the help call as the Germans bury at sea their one  dead.

The film can be described as part of he War Reconciliation genre. The film is not sentimental about war with the crew of the German Submarine singing a Nazi brotherhood  to keep up their morale and defy the Americans. Mitcham is prepared not just to risk his men and craft but send the submarine to the bottom irrespective if this kills all its crew, The film recognises and applauds the respect which professional fighting men had for each other. In the book on which the film is loosely based the destroyer is British and the reconciliation \nd respect aspect is not present.

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