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Greekness Counter: “Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef”

Although this is an old movie it could be a could Sunday family activity, especially now only t days after the Epiphany. The most famous epiphany celebrations take place in Tarpon Springs, in the city where this film was filmed.

Beneath_the_twelve_mile_reef—GGGGG (Very Greek)
1953 Color 102 minutes

Producer: Twentieth Century-Fox
Director: Robert Webb
Writer: A.I. Bezzerides
Cast: Robert Wager, Terry Moore, Gilbert Roland, Richard Boone Synopsis: Tony Petrakis (Robert Wagner) is a cocky Greek youth living in Tarpon Springs in a stereotypical traditional family who undergoes a manly rite of passage. Tony’s father, Mike Petrakis (Gilbert Roland) is a sponge diver who is having a hard time finding sponges in the area traditionally harvested by Greeks. He decides to make an early morning run to Key West waters that are considered the territory of non-Greek fishermen led by Thomas Rhys (Richard Boone). When the locals discover the presence of Greeks, there is violence and a dramatic face-to-face between the Petrakis and Rhys families. The story takes another turn when Tony becomes romantically interested in Rhy’s beautiful and rebellious daughter Gwyneth (Terry Moore). Terry’s boyfriend (Peter Graves) takes offense. The ensuing fight is partly about sponges, partly about jealousy, and partly about whether Greeks can be considered as equals by native-born Americans. Much of the film is shot on location and explores the skills and dangers involved in sponge diving. Mike is killed diving in dangerous waters. After more violence, Tony and Terry elope. Her father pursues them with a vengeance, but the film ends with the feuding communities coming to terms with one another, mainly due to the attitudes embodied in the younger generation. The Greek characters are portrayed as courageous. The script is by A.I. Bezzerides from his own short story. Bezzerides, son of an Armenian mother and a Greek father, was born in Asia Minor. Rock Hudson, then at the onset of his career, provides a brief narrative introduction in the opening sequence. This early Cinemascope production is noted for its innovative underwater photography (cinematographer Edward Cronjagger got an Oscar nomination for his work). This is one of two films about Greeks made by Twentieth-Century Fox in 1953. Perhaps not coincidently, the studio was then headed at this time by Spyro Skouras.

*This is an excerpt from “The American Image in American Cinema”, a filmography conducted by Dan Georgakas

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