10 March 2017 | Michael_Elliott
Hard to Believe This Here Isn't Better Known
Devil and the Deep (1932)
*** (out of 4)
Diana Sturm (Tallulah Bankhead) is married to submarine Cmdr. Charles Sturm (Charles Laughton) and everyone sees her as a bad person. The truth of the matter is that Charles is extremely abusive to her and will stop at nothing to destroy any man's life he feels she is attracted to. One night while running away from the abuse, Diana meets Lt. Sempter (Gary Cooper) and the two have a relationship, which soon leads to disaster.
DEVIL AND THE DEEP isn't a very well-known movie and I must admit that I'm quite shocked about that. I had never really heard of the film until recently and it's rather amazing because you've got not only Bankhead, Laughton and Cooper but you've also got a young Cary Grant in a nice early role. Four legendary stars from Hollywood's Golden Age and you mention the title to most film buffs and they won't be familiar with it.
Whatever the reason people don't know the film, it's really too bad because it's actually pretty good. The greatest thing about the film is the ending, which I won't spoil but it takes place on the submarine and there's no question that it's quite tense and rather claustrophobic. Director Marion Gering really does a nice job with this entire sequence and while some of the special effects shots aren't the greatest, the overall impact of the scene is very good. The film does get off to a rather slow start but it quickly picks up.
The performances are certainly the main reason to watch the picture with Bankhead delivering a fine one. She's very good in the role of the abusive wife and I really enjoyed her performance when she had to show the fear she feels for her husband. I thought the actress was very believable as an abused woman. Cooper was also very stoic in his "hero" type of role. I thought the two of them shared some very good chemistry and that helped their relationship. Grant appears early on in the picture and he's very good as well. As for Laughton, he gets a very special screen credit and he certainly deserves it as he is great as the crazed man who will stop at nothing to hurt his wife and any man who likes her. By watching this film it's easy to see why he would eventually be cast in MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY.
At just seventy-five minutes the film has a very good pace and there's no question that it's one worth watching.