HELLO DOWN THERE (1969)
Article #1222 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-19-2004
Posting Date: 12-16-2004
Directed by Jack Arnold and Ricou Browning
Featuring Tony Randall, Jim Backus, Janet Leigh
A man who designs an underwater house tries to prove its effectiveness to his employer by having his family live there for thirty days.
Fans of science fiction movies from the fifties should recognize the names of Ivan Tors (who produced GOG, THE MAGNETIC MONSTER and RIDERS TO THE STARS) and Jack Arnold (who directed CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, and THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN). Here they combine forces for another science fiction movie, and the viewer can’t be blamed for hoping for something more than this lame little comedy. There are definite pleasures here; the underwater scenes are fun to watch (courtesy of co-director Ricou Browning), the animals are entertaining, the visions of a hurricane as seen from underwater are fascinating, and (for me, the biggest surprise) the songs are actually not too bad; sure, the cutesy underwater lyrics are dumb, but they’re catchy enough in a pop/bubblegum way. It’s the comedy that falls flat, despite an impressive cast that includes Tony Randall, Jim Backus, Janet Leigh, Roddy McDowall, Ken Barry, a young Richard Dreyfuss and (in cameos) Arnold Stang, Harvey Lembeck and Merv Griffin. So unless you consider the sight of Ken Berry being kissed by a seal to be the height of hilarity, there’s very little that is really amusing here. And for anyone hoping that the subplot about the Navy’s sonar being jammed by rock music will develop into anything significant, I’ll warn you now is that all it does is lead to a unmemorable end to the movie. Incidentally, Richard Dreyfuss would encounter sharks once again six years later in JAWS.