Friday 25 December 2015

The Enemy Below 1957

This was one of my favorite model ship movies growing up. It was one of the first movies on which L.B. Abbott supervised the special photographic effects after being made the head of the 20th Century Fox special effects department in 1957. Surprisingly the film does not even get a mention in his very good book covering his career "Special Effects - Wire tape and Rubber band style" published by the American Society of Cinematographers.

The miniature effects are textbook in execution. There is a level of opacity to the underwater shots though possibly still a shade more transparent than you would get with a real submarine underwater. The miniature pyrotechnics are spectacularly effective. You can already see a particular L.B. Abbot style in the photography which matches his subsequent work ranging from Tora Tora Tora to Batman the movie.



  1. The footage from this film was recycled in an episode of televisions Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I cannot remember the exact episode, but if I remember correctly in the episode the U-Boat was commanded by pirates.

    1. Yeah, in fact, the entire episode was a rehash of the basic plot of this movie, with Admiral Nelson trapped on the ship ultimately taking command.

  2. LB Abbott was in charge of 20th Century Fox Studio model making. Seaview, flying sub,etc..

  3. Your right.
    LB Abbott did the model making for 'The Enemy Below' destroyer and sub..and for VTTBOTS Seaview,flying sub..worked on many project for 20th Century Fox Studios ..

  4. The one sequence that baffled me for a while was the live action shots of the sub and the DE after the collision. An actual collision at see would never have these results, but... It is obvious that the sub is a full scale prop and in one shot it is possible to see the rear end of the mock-up just at the upper right of the shot. I have come to the conclusion that the DE was a mock-up of that part of the starboard side and not a real DE placed in dry dock with the movie sub. Still it is a very convincing full size piece of the DE. Not strictly a model, but still good magic.


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