In a fit of virtue, I started switching from my bookstore to the library to get most of my reading. I picked up WAR IN THE BOATS by William Ruhe, which describes in detail his experience onboard a variety of submarines in the Pacific during World War 2. I got totally hooked, so much so I’m working on a short military thriller that will read like Horatio Hornblower meets a Turner Classic submarine movie and with a Michael Crichtonesque attention to technical detail, making you, the reader, a part of the crew seeing what it was really like fighting a war beneath the sea.
During all this research, I found an old movie, THE ENEMY BELOW (1957), which describes the fight between an American destroyer and a German U-boat during the War of the Atlantic. Robert Mitchum plays the captain with a score to settle, while we also follow the story of the U-boat captain, who hates the Nazis and is tired of the war.
Both men are very good at what they do, resulting in a clever cat and mouse game that culminates in a classic finish. Unlike THE VICTORS, which I reviewed yesterday, THE ENEMY BELOW doesn’t present the noble aims of war and then contrast it with the grim reality of violence and human nature. Instead, it holds up the horror of war and then contrasts it with small acts of human kindness that provide genuine hope for humanity’s future.
The film stretches reality as to the foresight the captains showed, as real captains during the war had much less awareness and certainty, but it’s a fun movie if you like war movies, and takes you inside a destroyer and a submarine, natural enemies of the sea.
Click here to watch the movie in its entirety on YouTube.