Maritime Monday for December 23rd, 2013: Submarine Movies Part 6; El Submarino Amarillo

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U47 - Kapitänleutnant Prien; 1958

U 47 – Kapitänleutnant Prien; 1958

German war film portraying the combat career of World War II Kriegsmarine U-boat captain Günther Prien, (1908 – presumed dead 7 March 1941) commander of German submarine U-47.

The film begins shortly after the outbreak of World War II when Günther Prien reports to the Befehlshaber der U-Boote (BdU—supreme commander of the U-boat Arm) Karl Dönitz. Dönitz orders Prien as commander of U-47 to penetrate the Royal Navy’s primary base at Scapa Flow to inflict as much damage as possible. Prien accomplishes his mission and receives a hero’s welcome on his return.

Günther PrienUnder Prien’s command, the submarine U-47 sank over 30 Allied ships totaling about 200,000 gross register tons (GRT). His most famous exploit was the sinking of the British battleship HMS Royal Oak at anchor.

The U-47 went missing on 7 March 1941 while attacking Convoy OB-293. She has generally been thought to have been sunk by the British destroyer HMS Wolverine west of Ireland. Prien’s death was kept secret until 23 May.

Churchill had personally announced it to the House of Commons, and propaganda broadcasts to Germany had repeatedly taunted listeners with the question “Where is Prien?” until Germany was forced to acknowledge his loss.

To date, there is no official record of what happened to the U-47 or her 45 crewmen.  The submarine shown in the film was the Spanish submarine G-7, formerly the German submarine U-573.

more on wikipedia

list of ships sunk and awards received by Prien

You Tube: U47 – Kapitänleutnant Prien (HQ-Trailer-1958)

and Gunther Prien – U Boat Attack on HMS Ark Royal (excerpt)

U-571 (Universal, 2000)

U-571 (Universal, 2000)

A World War II German submarine is boarded in 1942 by disguised United States Navy submariners seeking to capture their Enigma cipher machine.

The fictitious plot attracted substantial criticism since, in reality, it was British personnel from HMS Bulldog who first captured a naval Enigma machine (from U-110 in the North Atlantic in May 1941). Anger over the inaccuracies even reached the British Parliament, where Prime Minister Tony Blair stated that the film was an “affront” to British sailors.

The British naval officer who led the boarding party aboard the U-110, called U-571, “a great film” and said that the movie would not have been financially viable without being Americanized.

The real U-571 was never involved in any such events, was not captured, and was in fact sunk in January 1944, off Ireland, by a Short Sunderland flying boat from No. 461 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force.

more on wikipedia


Out of some 15 captures of naval Enigma material during World War II, all but two were by the British – the Royal Canadian Navy captured U-774, and the U.S. Navy seized U-505 in June 1944. By this time the Allies were already reading naval Enigma traffic routinely.


Qwerty: more about The Enigma on BBC History

U-Boat 29 (Columbia, 1939)

U-Boat 29 (Columbia, 1939)

AKA The Spy In Black – The story of a German World War I submarine captain (Conrad Veidt) who is given a mission to discover British intelligence secrets. Once he arrives in the Orkney Islands, he meets up with a female schoolteacher (Valerie Hobson), who happens to be a German agent. Veidt falls in love with Hobson before discovering she’s actually a double agent for the British. (allmovie)

U-Boat 29 (Columbia, 1939) Lobby Card

U-Boat 29 (Columbia, 1939) Lobby Card

See Also:

Dark Journey (United Artists, 1937) Argentinean Poster

Dark Journey (United Artists, 1937) Argentinean Poster

The unorthodox teaming of Vivien Leigh and Conrad Veidt is but one of the many pleasures of the 1937 spy yarn Dark Journey. Leigh plays a Stockholm dress-shop owner during World War I, who, being a neutral, is permitted to travel unmolested to and from France. Veidt plays a supposedly disgraced German officer who is actually head of his country’s secret service.

The two fall in love, despite the fact that Leigh has a secret as well: she is a double agent, sympathetic towards the Allied cause. During one of Leigh’s voyages to France, her ship is captured by a German U-boat.

Veidt swaggers on board, threatening to sink the ship if Leigh is not turned over to him. But the circumstances reverse themselves, and Veidt finds himself Leigh’s prisoner–a circumstance that is not altogether unpleasant for him. (allmovie)

Meet Conrad Veidt on Badass Digest

Hans Walter Conrad Veidt (22 January 1893 – 3 April 1943) was a German actor best remembered for his roles in films such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), The Man Who Laughs (1928), The Thief of Bagdad (1940) and Casablanca (as Major Heinrich Strasser in 1942).

Conrad VeidtAfter a successful career in German silent film, where he was one of the best paid stars, he left Germany in 1933 with his new Jewish wife after the Nazis came to power. They settled in the United Kingdom, where he participated in a number of films before emigrating to the United States around 1941.

Veidt fervently opposed the Nazi regime. Soon after it took power, Joseph Goebbels started to “purge” the film industry of liberals and Jews. He loaned his considerable fortune to the British Government, and donated large amounts of his film salaries to help with the British war effort. (wikipedia)

U-Boat Prisoner (Columbia, 1944)

U-Boat Prisoner (Columbia, 1944)

B- star Bruce Bennett  plays merchant seaman Archie Gibbs, who manages to survive when his ship is torpedoed by a German submarine. Disguising himself in the uniform of a dead Nazi spy, Gibbs is picked up by a U-boat.

He manages to convince the German sailors that he’s the spy, and in this guise he tries to rescue a group of captured Allied scientists. Already unbelievable, U-Boat Prisoner journeys into the Twilight Zone during the climax, when Gibbs single-handedly incapacitates the submarine crew and rescues the prisoners. Incredibly, the film was based on a true story. (allmovie)

Undersea Kingdom (Republic, 1936)

Undersea Kingdom (Republic, 1936)

 This Flash Gordon imitation had Ray “Crash” Corrigan, crash-helmet and all, diving into the ocean in a fantastic super submarine. Corrigan and his passengers — Professor Norton (C. Montague Shaw), the professor’s young son (Lee Van Atta), brash newspaperwoman Diana Compton (Lois Wilde), and a couple of sailors — are headed toward the legendary sunken continent of Atlantis…

keep reading

Up Periscope (Warner Brothers, 1959)

Up Periscope (Warner Brothers, 1959) Japanese

Ken Braden (James Garner) is a US Navy frogman and underwater demolitions expert assigned a vital mission: to be smuggled into a Japanese-held island via submarine in order to photograph radio codes. (imdb)

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (20th Century Fox, 1961)

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (20th Century Fox, 1961) Italian poster

Admiral Nelson takes a brand new atomic submarine USOS Seaview (United States Oceanographic Survey) through its paces. When the Van Allen radiation belt catches fire, the admiral must find a way to beat the heat or watch the world go up in smoke. (imdb)

more on wikipedia

Peter Lorre in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

 Peter Lorre in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

The theme song was sung by Frankie Avalon, who also appeared in the film.

Two milestones in underwater exploration were achieved in the years just before Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was released…

From August 1, 1958 through August 5, 1958, USS Nautilus (SSN-571) (the first nuclear-powered submarine), under the command of Commander (later Captain) William R. Anderson, steamed under the Arctic ice cap to make the first crossing from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the North Pole. On August 3, 1958 she became the first ship to reach the North Pole.

Nautilus 90 NorthFor this accomplishment, Nautilus and her crew were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, the first Presidential Unit Citation awarded in peacetime. The citation began with the words, “For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic ice cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.”

Nautilus 90 North (1959, right) was the first book Captain Anderson wrote about the Arctic missions of USS Nautilus. It was named for the radio message he sent to the Chief of Naval Operations to announce that Nautilus had reached the pole.

On January 23, 1960, Jacques Piccard and Lieutenant Don Walsh (USN), in the bathyscaphe Trieste, made the first descent to the bottom of the Challenger Deep.


more about USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) on sub-guru

We Dive at Dawn (GFD, 1943)

We Dive at Dawn (GFD, 1943)

Lieutenant Taylor (John Mills) and the rest of the crew of the submarine Sea Tiger are given a week’s leave after an unsuccessful patrol. Hobson (Eric Portman) goes home to save his marriage, while a reluctant Corrigan (Niall MacGinnis) heads off to his own wedding.

The crew are called back to duty, much to Corrigan’s relief, though he later has second thoughts. Sea Tiger is assigned the top secret mission of sinking Nazi Germany’s new battleship, the Brandenburg, before she enters the Kiel Canal to begin sea trials in the Baltic Sea.

When the Brandenburg is spotted, Sea Tiger fires all its torpedoes, then dives to evade German destroyers dropping depth charges. By expelling oil and other debris, Taylor fools the Germans into believing that the submarine has sunk. They leave, but Sea Tiger no longer has enough fuel to return to England…

We Dive

Filmed at Gaumont-British Studios in London with the co-operation of the British Admiralty.  Watch on-line


Who Is Number One (Paramount, 1917)

Who Is Number One? (Paramount, 1917)

Perky Kathleen Clifford starred as Aimee Villon, a young girl seemingly in danger from enemies of her foster-father, Graham Hale (Gordon Sackville), “a financial giant and famous inventor.” A mafia-like group headed by the mysterious “Number One” is after Hale’s invention, a new kind of submarine… keep reading

Yellow Submarine (United Artists, 1968)

Yellow Submarine (United Artists, 1968)

Aside from composing and performing the songs, the real Beatles participated only in the closing scene of the film, while their cartoon counterparts were voiced by other actors. According to the special features section of the Yellow Submarine DVD, Peter Batten provided the voice of George for the first half of the film. Batten was discovered to be a deserter from the British Army in Germany (the British Army of the Rhine) and was arrested during recording.

The Beatles were not enthusiastic about participating in a motion picture. They were displeased with their second feature film Help!, and were discouraged by the disastrous reception of their self-produced TV special Magical Mystery Tour. They did, however, see an animated film as a favourable way to complete their commitment to United Artists for a third film.

George Dunning, who also worked on the Beatles cartoon series, was the overall director for the film, supervising over 200 animation artists for 11 months. The animation of Yellow Submarine has sometimes falsely been attributed to the famous psychedelic pop art artist of the era, Peter Max; but the film’s art director was Heinz Edelmann, (who billed himself professionally as “The German Peter Max”.

Edelmann, along with his contemporary Milton Glaser, pioneered the psychedelic style for which Max would later become famous, but according to Edelmann and producer Al Brodax, as quoted in the book Inside the Yellow Submarine by Hieronimus and Cortner, Max had nothing to do with the production of Yellow Submarine. (more)

The film’s instrumental music was an orchestral score composed and arranged by George Martin. Yellow Submarine was a box-office hit, drawing in crowds both for its lush, wildly creative images, and its soundtrack of Beatles songs.

Yellow Submarine Movie Trailer

List of submarine movies on wikipedia

see you

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