There’s a Movie Greyhound (2020) on Apple TV. The movie is crisp, racy and holds attention till the end, yet I can’t help comparing it with another movie – The Enemy Below(1957). Search this Movie on YouTube. It’s free.
Both movies have some basic similarities and some significant differences.
First the similarities.
Both movies are based on books. Greyhound is based on – The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester(1955), and The Enemy Below is based on a book of the same name by Denys Rayner(1956). Of the two writers, C.S. Forester is a pure one, meaning, he wrote for a living. Denys Rayner was a Royal Navy Officer who saw action in Second World War. He later turned to writing.
In both movies, the ship and the submarine are in a predator-prey tussle. And in both movies, the ship and their captain come out tops. Also, both the ship captains are shown as underdogs to begin with. It is their first Wartime command. In The Enemy Below, such captains are touted as “Feather Merchants”, slang for “Someone without combat experience”.
In both movies, the plot follows similar paths; main characters as underdogs, given big responsibility, “doubting Thomas” like people all around, meeting adversity, finally redemption.
During the times of the Second World War; SONAR, RADAR technologies were new and considered advanced and cutting edge. It’s interesting to see how the adversaries “plot” against each other using these devices, by drawing arcs and coordinates on maps. One can imagine how prompt and quick witted a cartographer needed to be to provide the captain with bearings and range and, that too, in combat situation and in relentless ever changing scenarios.
Both movies are 90 minutes long, if you forgo the credits. Both movies take approx 10 minutes to cut to the chase. Those initial 10 minutes are spent to establish the credentials of the Captains, and highlight their vulnerabilities.
Now the differences between the two stories.
Greyhound is just about “the ship” and the characters inside the ship. The submarine is the elusive figure and it is dehumanized. The movie never shows insides of the submarine. Even when submarines are destroyed, no bodies are shown, just oil slicks on ocean surface. The picture is CGI-ish.
Unlike Greyhound, The Enemy Below shows both sides of the story, the U.S. Ship and the Nazi Submarine. There’s a dual. Both the captains are making mental picture of each other, trying to outsmart each other, are second guessing each other. And as they do that, they begin to appreciate each other. And finally they meet.
The Enemy Below is a 1957 movie, a decade after the end of the big war. So probably the story has a spirit of reconciliation. Greyhound has cut all melodrama.
Cinematic effects in The Enemy Below, I found, is better than Greyhound. This 1957 movie won Oscars for Best Special Effects. The sound and the imagery of the blue waters bursting into spouting flares as the Depth Charges are launched into the ocean is taylor made for today’s HDTV. Greyhound doesn’t come anywhere near it, in sound and colors, using more dark hues and Grey tones.
In The Enemy Below, the end is pretty Kamikaze-ish. The ships rams over the submarine and both side take refuge in the allied lifeboats. This is one cinemafication that Greyhound has avoided. Nonetheless, there will be a positive take away if one watches both movies.