Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)

Approved   |    |  Adventure, Drama

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953) Poster

Fierce competition among sponge fishermen forces a Greek-American family to fish in the dangerous 12-mile reef area off the western coast of Florida.




  • Robert Wagner in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • Robert Wagner and Gilbert Roland in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • Robert Wagner and Terry Moore in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • Robert Wagner and Terry Moore in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)
  • Robert Wagner in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

7 November 2008 | Bunuel1976
| BENEATH THE 12-MILE REEF (Robert D. Webb, 1953) **1/2
To begin with, I recall watching this as a Sunday matinée on Italian TV as a kid. Though one of the very first Cinemascope outings, its copyright was somehow not renewed by Fox when it was due and, consequently, it fell into the dreaded Public Domain; that said, the copy I acquired – as part of a 2-disc 4-movie "Pirates"(!) set – was surprisingly in Widescreen, even if the image itself proved overly soft.

Unfortunately, the narrative's unusual background of sponge-fishing (treated in some detail but emerging to be more dreary than absorbing, despite nice Oscar-nominated underwater photography) is put in the service of a clichéd Romeo & Juliet storyline. In fact, while I usually lap up such vintage Hollywood adventure films, this one was constantly undermined by a cornball script (amazingly penned by noir expert A.I. Bezzerides!) in which Robert Wagner, decked-out with an unbecoming hairdo, is seen immaturely flaunting his Adonis features every so often (the virile nature of such earthy people is always at the fore in this type of film!)…while it takes some serious suspension of disbelief to accept a man of such obvious Latin tinge as Gilbert Roland in the part of a Greek!

Slightly overlong for its purpose, the film is nonetheless redeemed by a strong cast (which also includes petite Terry Moore as Wagner's love interest, Richard Boone her father, Peter Graves the man she jilted, and J. Carroll Naish as Roland's brother/associate – a role not too far removed from his CLASH BY NIGHT [1952] characterization), an excellent score by the great Bernard Herrmann (which seems kind of wasted on such trivial fare, though it didn't prevent the film from being presented at Cannes where that year's jury numbered Luis Bunuel among its members and Jean Cocteau as president!!) and the requisite underwater struggle with a squid (also featured during this era in the likes of REAP THE WILD WIND [1942] and TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA [1954]).

For the record, I followed this oater with two other more satisfying titles from director Webb – WHITE FEATHER [1955] and THE PROUD ONES [1956] – both Westerns I had acquired some time back through an acquaintance of my father's but which I hadn't yet gotten around to checking out until now

Critic Reviews


Release Date:

2 December 1953


English, Greek

Country of Origin


Filming Locations

Nassau, Bahamas

Box Office


$1,560,000 (estimated)

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