Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

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Beneath the 12-Mile Reef
Publicity shot of Robert Wagner for film
Directed byRobert D. Webb
Written byA.I. Bezzerides
Produced byRobert Bassler
StarringRobert Wagner
Terry Moore
Gilbert Roland
Richard Boone
Peter Graves
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byWilliam Reynolds
Music byBernard Herrmann
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • December 2, 1953 (1953-12-02)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.56 million[1][2]
Box office$3.6 million (US rentals);[3][4] $3.5 million (foreign rentals) [5]
L-R: Angela Clarke, Robert Wagner, Gilbert Roland & Gloria Gordon

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef is a 1953 American Technicolor adventure film directed by Robert D. Webb and starring Robert Wagner, Terry Moore and Gilbert Roland. The screenplay was by A.I. Bezzerides. The film was the third motion picture made in CinemaScope, coming after The Robe and How to Marry a Millionaire. The supporting cast features J. Carrol Naish, Richard Boone, Peter Graves, Jay Novello, Harry Carey Jr. and Jacques Aubuchon.


Mike (Gilbert Roland) and Tony Petrakis (Robert Wagner) are Greek American father and son sponge-diving entrepreneurs who find themselves in competition with the Rhys family, Conch fishermen who are prepared to resort to violence and murder to maintain their established fishing grounds off the Gulf Coast of Florida. Run-ins between the two clans lead to an exchange of threats and all-out brawls. Further complications ensue when Tony Petrakis meets Gwyneth Rhys (Terry Moore), and the two fall in love.



The film originally was called Twelve Mile Reef and was announced in September 1952, with the leads to be played by Robert Wagner and Kathleen Crowley.[6] By December, the female lead was going to be Debra Paget.[7]

In February 1953, Fox announced the film would be shot in CinemaScope. That month, the first CinemaScope movie, The Robe, began filming.[8] Beneath the 12 Mile Reef was the third film shot in that process, after How to Marry a Millionaire, and the first shot underwater.[9]

Also that month, Terry Moore was given the female lead.[10]

Filming started 6 April 1953. The film was shot on location in Key West and Tarpon Springs, Florida.[11]

There were rumors during filming that Moore and Wagner had a romance. In reality, Wagner secretly was seeing Barbara Stanwyck, and Moore was seeing Howard Hughes.[12]

Wagner almost drowned during filming at Tarpon Springs when he was accidentally kicked in the stomach by another actor. He sank to the bottom of the water and had to be rescued by a crew member.[13]

Gloria Gordon, who had a small role, was signed to a seven-year contract.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times observed "Another and further extension of the range of CinemaScope ... is handsomely manifested in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef ... But that, when you come right down to it, is just about the only novelty provided by this third employment of the anamorphic lens. For the scenes shot above the surface, while large and imposing, are routine, and the drama developed in the screen play is hackneyed and banal. And, unfortunately, most of the picture takes place above, not below, the reef ... There is nothing at all fascinating or edifying here."[11]

Variety wrote "[T]he squeeze-lensing gives punch in the display of underwater wonders, the seascapes and the brilliant, beautiful sunrises and sunsets of the Florida Gulf coast. In handling the young cast, Robert D. Webb's direction is less effective, particularly in the case of Robert Wagner and Terry Moore. Both are likable, so the shallowness of their performances is no serious handicap to the entertainment."[15]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Edward Cronjager was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and Robert D. Webb was nominated for the Grand Prize at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p248
  2. ^ "20th Blessing". Variety. 9 November 1955. p. 20.
  3. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p225
  4. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, January 5, 1955
  5. ^ Daily Variety, November 9, 1955, p. 4
  6. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Sep 23, 1952). "Korea, More Movies on Rooney Itinerary". Los Angeles Times. p. B6.
  7. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Dec 20, 1952). "Bob Wagner Will Star in 'Twelve Mile Reef'". Los Angeles Times. p. A2.
  8. ^ "20th Century Has New Movie Device: All Production Being Converted to Cinemascope, Studio Reveals". Los Angeles Times. Feb 2, 1953. p. A1.
  9. ^ "STUDIO PLANS 20 CINEMASCOPE FILMS: 20th Century-Fox Announces It Will Release Spectacles in Fall and Continuing in 1954 CINEMASCOPE". Los Angeles Times. Apr 2, 1953. p. A1.
  10. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Feb 24, 1953). "Terry Moore to Debut in CinemaScope; Jean Hagen Headed for Stage". Los Angeles Times. p. B7.
  11. ^ a b Crowther, Bosley (December 17, 1953). "Beneath the 12 Mile Reef". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
  12. ^ HEDDA HOPPER'S STAFF (June 4, 1953). "Looking at Hollywood: Robert Taylor to Do Western Movie with Janet Leigh as Co-Star". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. e2.
  13. ^ "Robert Wagner Almost Drowned in Movie Scene". Los Angeles Times. Apr 19, 1953. p. 11.
  14. ^ "Two Pedros on Stage Here". Los Angeles Times. Oct 11, 1953. p. D4.
  15. ^ Variety review
  16. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Beneath the 12-Mile Reef". Retrieved 2009-01-24.
  17. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Feb 16, 1954). "Nominees Listed for 'Oscar' Award: Top Performers and Films to Be Announced by Academy March 25". Los Angeles Times. p. A1.

External links[edit]