Copyright © 2021 I. Cowthern. All Rights Reserved.
The Devil and the Deep noir 1932 movie drama is set in North Africa. The opening scenes at the British social club reveal Commander Sturm and Mrs. Sturm’s marriage is quite strained.
Commander Charles Sturm is Diana Sturm’s jealous, crazed, and physically abusive spouse. He accuses her of infidelity with every man she encounters.
Lt. Jaeckel is transferred off the Navy submarine as a result of Commander Sturm’s jealousy and suspicions that Mrs. Sturm is having an affair with Jaeckel.
Lt. Jaeckel’s replacement, Lt. Sempter, unknowingly has a one night tryst with Mrs. Sturm who remained mysterious about her identity and residence. However, Commander Sturm introduces Lt. Sempter to Mrs. Sturm when he drops by their home the next day to deliver his paperwork. And, based on the perfume scented documents, the commander sniffs that Lt. Sempter and Mrs. Sturm are having an affair. From that moment on, Commander Sturm exhibits increasing degrees of mental illness.
Tallulah Bankhead plays Mrs. Diana Sturm
After returning home from the club, Mrs. Sturm is bitch slapped by Commander Sturm. The masterfulness of Bankhead’s acting enables the viewer to personally feel the stinging pain. By the way she rubs her hand across her cheek and gazes down.
Moreover, Bankhead’s portrayal of Mrs. Sturm's attempts to respond to a mentally unstable husband who twists every word coming from her mouth is magnifico.
Incidentally, it’s alleged Bankhead played the role of Mrs. Sturm to bed Gary Cooper and it’s said she succeeded.
Gary Cooper plays Lt. Sempter
Cooper is the perfect tall and handsome dashing knight who rescues Mrs. Sturm. His American brogue is out of sync at times amidst the British speaking cast.
Cooper does the obligatory dance as a lieutenant respecting his senior officer. Until it’s obvious Commander Sturm is going to sink the submarine. Then Cooper liberates the minion and channels his smothering sexy manliness into a take no prisoner navy officer.
Additionally, there's an undercurrent of heat which sizzles between Cooper and Bankhead on-screen.
Lt. Jaekel plays Cary Grant
Cary Grant plays Cary Grant although his facial expressions and body language conveys a worried and serious exterior, it's not convincing.
Charles Laughton plays Commander Charles Sturm
The Devil and the Deep movie belongs to Charles Laughton from start to finish. He uses his physicality to brood and sulk with finesse and applies his unattractiveness as an overarching layer of cruelty to the commander role.
Moreover, the commander’s fiendish decision to sink the submarine and exterminate the crew to payback Lt. Sempter and Mrs. Sturm for their affair flickers within Laughton’s orbs.
The height of Laughton’s performance as the psycho commander is when he takes a hatchet to Mrs. Sturm’s photograph and destroys it in a mad rage. Likewise, the commander laughing hysterically while he is drowning.
A Note of Interest for Haute Couture Fashionistas:
Travis Banton designed the lovely gowns worn by Tallulah Bankhead in The Devil and the Deep movie. Moreover, Edith Head was his sketch artist and assistant when he arrived at Paramount.
I'm I. Cowthern -- I enjoy watching old black and white movies and listening to jazz, pop, rock, R&B, and classical music.