Cast & Crew
While scouring the Caribbean sea floor for treasure, Johnny Grant discovers the remains of a small ship and reports his findings to his Cuban business partner, Dominic Casada, who is manning their boat. Dominic joins Johnny underwater, and together they collect several manmade artifacts near the ship. When they surface, they are greeted by shark hunter Rico Arrera, who has maneuvered his boat next to Dominic and Johnny's. Rico feigns a casual curiosity about Johnny's activities, while Johnny claims he is gathering rocks for a scientific study. Later, in Cuba, Johnny and Dominic reunite with Johnny's wife Theresa and show her the artifacts, which date back to the early seventeenth century. Theresa, who has lived through many failed get-rich-quick schemes with Johnny and Dominic, angrily protests their plan to sell their boat, which they use in the tourist trade, in order to raise money for a sunken treasure expedition. Johnny acquiesces to Theresa's demands, and Dominic apparently accepts defeat and leaves. Once they are alone, however, Theresa yells at Johnny for giving in too easily and hiding his true feelings from her. Dominic, meanwhile, drops by the yacht of an American millionaire but finds only Gloria Warner, the millionaire's distraught secretary. After Gloria explains that her debt-ridden boss abandoned the boat, whose title is under her name, and left her stranded, Dominic convinces her to become his partner. Later, at a nightclub, Gloria and Dominic run into Johnny and Theresa, who reveal that they sold their boat to finance the expedition, and a four-way partnership is formed. Now flush with equipment and supplies, the four are joined on the yacht by Father Cannon, a priest and historian. Once at sea, Father Cannon questions Dominic about the relics, noting that one of them could only have come from a big ship. Dominic admits that he bought the artifacts from a fisherman, who had found them in the vicinity of the sunken ship, and scattered them around to entice Johnny. Father Cannon then states that the ship was probably the pilot vessel of a convoy that fled Panama with a gold statue of the Madonna, which sank during a hurricane. Thrilled at their prospects, Johnny and Theresa dive the next day and find a second ship, a man o' war. Later, the group discusses the probable location of the treasure ship and are disturbed when Rico and his crew, Miguel and Jesus, reappear. Rico obviously does not believe Johnny's rock hunting story, but leaves without incident. Dominic and Johnny then dive and spot the treasure ship lodged on a coral cliff. That evening, Theresa, who has already sensed a growing obsession in her husband, suggests that they picnic on a nearby island. Their romantic plan is spoiled, however, when Dominic and Gloria insist on joining them. On the beach, Johnny tells Theresa about his dreams to travel the world with her, and the two happily contemplate a new life. The next day, Dominic and Johnny, a former Navy explosives expert, return to the treasure ship and set dynamite to blast open a sealed door. Although the explosion rocks the ship, the door falls off and stacks of gold bullion are discovered. While Johnny is carrying some of the gold up to the yacht, Dominic suddenly becomes ill and loses consciousness. Dominic revives before any harm is done, but Johnny realizes that the middle-aged Dominic is no longer strong enough to dive. Johnny then devises a plan to pull a second door open by means of a hook and rope and, despite Dominic's near miss, both men go under to implement it. While they work on the door, the fragile ship starts to break apart and Dominic is buried in sand. Johnny rescues him, and once back on the surface, Dominic tells Father Cannon that, before being buried, he felt the Madonna statue and shows him a gold sphere the broke off from its hand. Soon after, Rico and his men return, and when Rico asks to confess to Father Cannon, the group allows him on board, then extends a dinner invitation. The dinner is tense but cordial until Rico finally confronts the group about the treasure. A fight breaks out, but Rico and his men are subdued and dumped on the island. Disturbed by the confrontation, Theresa begs Johnny to quit, but he refuses to give up his dream. The next day, Theresa insists on diving with Johnny, and during the pulling operation, the ship timbers crack and fall, pinning Theresa. When the engine pulling the rope stalls, Johnny surfaces to fix the problem, and Dominic dives in to help. Although Johnny and Dominic free Theresa, the ship breaks apart, and Dominic narrowly escapes with his life. As soon as they return to the ship, they are greeted by a gun-toting Rico, Jesus and Miguel, who were brought back from the island by Gloria. Rico demands the gold, but Johnny wrests a rifle away from Jesus and trains it on Rico. To end the impasse, Johnny offers Rico some of the gold. After Rico accepts his share and departs peacefully, Dominic tells Father Cannon that the statue is lost forever. Johnny then embraces a relieved Theresa, and they all head back to Cuba with the remaining gold.
Pérez Prado And His Band
Robert B. Bailey
Albert S. D'agostino
Walter G. Elliott
S. G. Haughton
Harry J. Wild
Underwater! - Underwater
Hughes' other motivating factor in producing Underwater! was for showing off scuba gear, which was a relatively new invention. Having made his millions as an industrialist, Hughes was a mover and shaker in the development of new technology, especially in the aeronautical industry. As he did with the aviation machinery in Hell's Angels (1930), Hughes essentially based Underwater! around the new scuba diving equipment that enabled humans to move quickly and easily beneath the surface of water. The film's tagline ("Skin Diver Action... Aqua-lung Thrills!") reflects Hughes' primary interests in Underwater!.
For the record, Underwater! follows skin diver Richard Egan, his wife (Russell), and fortune hunter Gilbert Roland as they search for buried treasure while fighting off sharks and nautical bandits. Unfortunately, despite the new scuba diving technology, the six weeks spent shooting off the Kona Coast in Hawaii produced very little usable footage. As a result, Underwater! was completed back at RKO in a giant underwater tank installed on some of the sound stages where Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced just 15 years before. But the realities of doing anything underwater for a sustained amount of time did not deter the filmmakers from staging one of the most infamous publicity stunts in conjunction with a film premiere. Some 200 journalists and screen personalities were flown to Silver Springs, Florida, in January 1955 to attend the world premiere of Howard Hughes' wet epic. All the participants donned bathing suits, aqua lungs and swim fins and viewed the movie 20 feet beneath the surface of the clear spring water. Those who did not wish to take a 99-minute dip were allowed to watch the picture through portholes from six electrically powered submarines. Despite this audacious publicity stunt, Underwater! did not make much of an impression on audiences when it went into national release. If anything, Underwater! will be remembered for Jane Russell's swimsuits and the song, "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," which became a top forty hit as performed by Perez Prado.
Director: John Sturges
Producer: Howard Hughes, Harry Tatelman
Screenplay: Walter Newman
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Editor: Stuart Gilmore
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Jane Russell (Theresa), Gilbert Roland (Dominic), Richard Egan (Johnny), Lori Nelson (Gloria), Robert Keith (Fr Cannon), Joseph Calleia (Rico).
by Scott McGee
Underwater! - Underwater
The working title of this film was The Big Rainbow. Onscreen credits include the statement: "This Is an RKO SuperScope Production." Voice-over narration, spoken by Richard Egan as his character, "Johnny Grant," is heard intermittently throughout the picture. Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items add the following information about the production: After purchasing their story in April 1953, RKO assigned writers Hugh King and Robert B. Bailey to work on the screenplay. Only Walter Newman received onscreen credit for the screenplay, however. Niven Busch was also hired to work on the script, but his contribution to the final film has not been determined.
Dale Robertson was initially announced as Gilbert Roland's co-star. John McIntire was originally cast in the role of the priest, but was replaced by Robert Keith. In early December 1954, location shooting began in Hawaii, using forty tons of sets built in Hollywood. After six weeks of bad weather, which destroyed the sets, the production moved to Hollywood, where the sets were rebuilt and a tank was set up for the underwater shots. It is not known how much, if any, of the Hawaii footage ended up in the final film. One source notes that footage was also shot in the Caribbean. RKO borrowed Lori Nelson from Universal for the production. "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White," which was listed as "La Promesa" in the copyright continuity, is performed as an instrumental by Pérez Prado and his band and was one of their big hits. It later became a hit song, with English words by Mack David. Underwater! marked editor Harry Tatelman's first producer credit.
On January 10, 1955, in what Daily Variety called one of the best "gimmick picture promotion stunts in many years," RKO flew 156 reviewers to Silver Springs, FL, for a special underwater screening of the film. To accomplish the feat, a screen and some benches were submerged in twenty-feet of water, and a glass bottom boat was converted into a projection booth. The studio supplied reviewers with aqua-lung equipment borrowed from the Air Force, as well as flippers, water-proof watches and swimsuits. In her autobiography, Jane Russell noted that the screening was conducted at the bottom of a small lake.
Another modern source adds that reviewers who preferred to stay dry watched the film through the portholes of six electrically powered submarines stationed strategically around the screen. Russell credits Jack Ackerman as Richard Egan's skin diving double. In early March 1955, according to Life, Lyn Jones, a New York model, filed a $100,000 mental anguish lawsuit against RKO, claiming that the studio had pasted Russell's head onto a photograph of Jones in its magazine and newspaper advertisements for the film. Editors at Collier's, the magazine for which Jones posed, however, claimed that Jones's photograph was replaced by another model's, and Jones withdrew her suit in late March 1955.
Released in United States Winter February 1955
Released in United States Winter February 1955