Cast & Crew
Lon Chaney [jr.]
Deep sea diver Lloyd Douglas, formerly of the U.S. Navy, arrives in Tarpon Springs, Florida, looking for work on the sponge boats that have been run by generations of Greek-Americans, whose families came to the rich Gulf of Mexico when the beds in the Mediterranean became depleted. Lloyd is sent to see Dimitri, owner of the sponge exchange at which catches are auctioned and backer of many boats, but Dimitri turns him down. When a father and son team, Athos and George, return to port empty handed and face losing their boat to Dimitri, Alex, an ambitious diver on one of the most successful boats, makes a deal with Dimitri to take over Athos' boat, against the advice of his girl friend Simi, who works for Dimitri and knows how he operates. Alex then hires Lloyd, along with divers Johnny and Nick, and gives jobs to Athos, George and Pete, a photographer, who is hired to cook. The day before the fleet is to sail, the waters and men are blessed by an archbishop. The next day, Alex's boat sets off for a month's voyage. He has a hunch that he can find sponges in certain areas at a depth of fifteen to sixteen fathoms. However, many days pass without the crew finding any sponge beds, and Alex is pressured to return to port for the next auction or risk losing his investment to Dimitri. Eventually, Alex locates a perfect spot and the crew gathers many sponges. When Lloyd goes down in the diving suit, Nick, who has been paid by Dimitri to sabotage the voyage, cuts away the wire guards around the boat's propeller in a futile attempt to cut Lloyd's air line. When Alex orders Nick to go down next, he refuses and Alex slugs him. Athos goes instead, and his air line becomes entangled with the propeller at the same time as the other end is wedged between some rocks. He loses his air supply and George dives in, without a diving suit, to rescue his father, but his leg becomes trapped by a giant clam. Alex manages to get Athos to the surface and to free George, but discovers George has drowned. Nick confesses that he is responsible and, although Athos is very distraught, he insists that Alex continue to work so that Dimitri cannot take over the boat. Athos returns with George's body to Tarpon Springs and accuses Dimitri of killing his son and of attempting to kill Alex. Dimitri tries to pin the blame on Alex and sends several henchmen in a speed boat to bust up Alex's boat. However, Alex, Lloyd and the others fight them off. Nick is killed in the fight, and Alex sends Pete in the speed boat to slow up the auction until his boat can return to harbor. On shore, Lloyd, Athos and Alex go after Dimitri and, while many from the various boats watch, Alex and Dimitri fight. Dimitri wins and runs off, but is pursued by Johnny. During their fight, Johnny knocks Dimitri down and he falls, fatally impaling himself on a sponge-gathering hook. Alex, Lloyd and the crew leave port once again.
Lon Chaney [jr.]
James S. Burkett
Belmont S. Gottlieb
Charles S. Gould
M. Peter Keane
The crowd for the auction scenes were made up of real-life Greek sponge divers.
This was the first feature photographed in the Ansco color process.
The opening titles state that "All scenes in this motion picture were filmed in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The underwater sequences were filmed in Rainbow Springs, Florida and Marineland Studios, St. Augustine, Florida." This was the first American feature film to be shot using the Ansco Color process. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, John Gonatos, who plays Johnny in the film, was a "world-renowned sponge diver." Another version of Eustace Adams' story was released in 1934 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4116). In that film, Lon Chaney (who then acted under his real name, Creighton Chaney), also played the lead.