Thursday, January 19, 2017


In 1917, a German submarine carrying gold bullion is sunk. Captain Von Boulting (Fredrick Vogeding) and a lieutenant make it to a small island and the captain draws a map showing where the sub is. As soon as they see a rescue ship, Von Boulting pushes his officer over a cliff so he won't have to share the booty if and when he ever manages to come back and get it. Twelve years later, the captain has been declared dead but has actually reinvented himself as a sailor named Schlemmer. In San Francisco, he has talked Lily, a brothel owner (Esther Howard) into backing his trip to get the gold by promising her half; he hires a deep-sea diver named Steve (Ralph Bellamy) to go along, but when Steve figures out what their goal is, he demands a third of the gold. Watching his share get smaller, Schlemmer leaves Lily behind and heads out with Steve and a small crew, but a huge storm winds up scotching their plans. In a lifeboat, Steve tears the treasure map in half so Schlemmer can't take another trip out without him. Three more years pass and this time, the two men are on an expedition sponsored by the wealthy Diana Templeton (Fay Wray), who proves to be a bit of a complication when she starts to fall for the gruff, perpetually smirking Steve; his demeanor slowly softens and the two seem on the verge of becoming an item. Another complication: Lily, who has stowed away, wanting her fair share of the gold. Soon, there is yet a third problem: a giant octopus!

This early action talkie will not be to all tastes, but given the time in which it was produced, it manages to be a fairly exciting film. It's odd to see Bellamy playing an unsavory character, but it's almost odder to have him reform his ways so relatively quickly. Aside from that, the rest of the story plays out well, with the two females, Wray and Howard, getting the acting honors. There's a cute scene in which Wray asks if she can get into Bellamy's diving suit—she wants to have her picture taken in it, not do any canoodling. The storm scenes are effective and even the octopus attack manages to work well. [TCM]

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