Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Sharks, Terror of the Second World War

It's World War II. The Allies have a lot to worry about with a war in Europe and the Pacific. On top of this, there are, as always, sharks. Adolf Hitler's Nazi party in Germany presents a frightening image of a world dominated by totalitarian government backed up by murderous zeal and overpowering military might. From Japan comes a formidable threat imposed by a fearless group of men willing to die in service to the Emperor. And in the oceans there dwells an animal with a lot of really sharp teeth who occasionally attacks humans. It can be hard to know which threat to deal with first. Not for Lieutenant Commander Ben Staves (Victor Mature) who lost several of his comrades to shark attacks after his destroyer was sunk and so, driven single-mindedly in his need for vengeance, he takes command of The Shark Chasers, an elite group of military scientists who in 1943 worked around the clock in Cuba to develop a shark repellent in order to bring the most terrible war in the history of mankind to a close. Their story is told in 1956's The Sharkfighters. I sought this movie out, I admit, because the premise sounded exquisitely stupid. It did not disappoint.

The Shark Chasers were apparently a real team developing shark repellent during World War II but the story of Lieutenant Commander Staves in the film is fictional. Well, it's not hard to tell--the film has the standard paces of the man committed to his dangerous job, the men around him worried about the risks he takes, and the beautiful wife in a long line of movie wives who never, ever understands the mystery of what makes her man do the things he does. She is forced to worry on the sidelines and contemplate the enigma his beefy sexiness.

There's also a young officer working under Staves who for some reason wants to be transferred. Apparently he's under the crazy idea that developing shark repellent isn't integral to the war effort. Staves sets him straight.

Of course the movie contrives to have men in the water with circling sharks and, to the movie's credit, actual sharks are used and the blood in the water looks convincing, however unconvincing the reasons for people to be in the water near aggressive sharks may be. There's also some footage of real Cuban fishermen and sharks they've hunted and caught.

The movie was shot on location in Cuba, the Bay of Pigs just a few years away so some of film has a fascinating, historical artefact quality--it's footage of a Cuba that doesn't exist anymore. Though some sampling of the local culture leads to the film's single most embarrassing scene:

Sexy as Defined by The Sharkfighters (1956) by setsuled

It feels like it was written by a group of asexual, sentient marionettes.
Tags: movies, shark, the sharkfighters, victor mature, world war ii
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