Sixteen Fathoms Deep (January 1, 1934)

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Lon Chaney Jr. and Sally O'Neil
 

Released on January 1, 1934: The rich guy in town sabotages a Greek sponge diver's boat so that he can force the young sponge diver's girlfriend to marry him instead.

Produced by Trem Carr

Directed by Armand Schaefer

The Actors: Sally O'Neil (Rosita),Lon Chaney Jr. (Joe Bethel), Russell Simpson (A.B. Crockett), Maurice Black (Nick Samos, henchman crewman), Si Jenks (Sculpin, crewman in Popeye outfit), Jack Kennedy (Mike, saloon owner), George Regas (Theo Savanis), Constantine Romanoff (Kargas, tall crewman), Richard Alexander (Martin, burly crewman), Lloyd Ingraham (Captain Athos), Bob Kortman (Cimos, second henchman), George Nash (young Athos), Philip Kieffer (Captain Alek), Raul Figarola (Chin-Chin, older diver), Gene Gehrung (Gordon)

 

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When the Dream Dies . . .

Even before American Independence from Britain, this new land became famous around the world as the one place on the planet where hard, honest work could make the poorest pauper wealthy. In much of the world your wealth or poverty depended not on how smart or hard working you were, but on who your parents were. But in this new land it would be different. Anyone from anywhere, regardless of language or religion, or the size of their parents’ home and bank account, could start a business and earn a good living. And our ancestors came, from all over the globe. There are many examples of failure that some folk would mention to show that this is not a great country, and indeed, this is not a perfect nation filled with perfect people. But failure in itself is evidence of success – it is the other half of the freedom to succeed. The freedom to fail must always be allowed, or the sweet smell of victory would not be as good. Only when the deck is stacked can the outcome be assured, either for success or failure.

This is the story of Greek sponge divers who have come to America in search of a better life. Some of them have only the ambition to work for other Greek fishermen who own the boats and equipment that search the sea for sponges. Once in a while a young man gets a spark of passion to become the owner of a boat and grab a larger slice of the American Dream, and Joe Bethel, played by Lon Chaney Jr. is such a young man. His motivation, like many great achievers, is a woman. Sally O’Neil plays Rosita, the pretty young daughter of the saloon owner, and Joe is determined to buy his own boat and earn enough to marry Rosita and give her a good life.

Unfortunately, Joe must borrow $3,000 to purchase the boat that he wants, and there is only one man in town who can finance his boat. The richest man in town is Theo Savanis, played perfectly by actor George Regas. He is the kind of man who twists the American Dream so that he wins, at the expense of other hard working folk. He and his henchmen will make sure that none of the boat owners are successful enough to become independent, by sabotaging their fishing operations.

When Joe asks him for a loan, the bad guy is very anxious to give him the money to purchase a boat, and we soon learn why. The bad guy wants to marry young Rosita, and Joe is standing in his way. The bad guy will send one of his henchmen to get a job with Joe when he makes his first trip into the deep waters searching for sponges.

The henchman will sabotage the operation daily, making certain that Joe will not get a large amount of sponges, and indeed, his mission is to make sure that Joe never returns from that first sponge diving expedition. The henchman is very good at destroying Joe’s chance to earn the $3,000 to pay for the boat, but back on shore Joe’s girlfriend Rosita discovers the plot and steals a speed boat to find Joe and warn him.

When Rosita finds Joe’s boat and she warns him of the henchman, we discover that the henchman is at that moment far under the waves collecting sponges. Rosita wishes out loud that the henchman should die for what he has done, and suddenly, his air bubbles stop rising to the surface. Maybe Santa Margarita, the protector of sponge divers, has made Rosita's wish come true. . . . . All Joe and Rosita need to do to end the sabotage is wait and watch as the air bubbles disappear. . . . Just wait, and watch. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Constantine Romanoff and Lon Chaney Jr.
Constantine Romanoff and Lon Chaney Jr.
Constantine Romanoff and Si Jenks
Constantine Romanoff and Si Jenks
George Nash and Lloyd Ingraham
George Nash and Lloyd Ingraham
George Nash and Sally O'Neil
George Nash and Sally O'Neil
George Regas and Maurice Black
George Regas and Maurice Black
George Regas and Russell Simpson
George Regas and Russell Simpson
George Regas and Sally O'Neil
George Regas and Sally O'Neil
George Regas
George Regas
Jack Kennedy
Jack Kennedy
Jack Kennedy and George Regas
Jack Kennedy and George Regas
Jack Kennedy and Sally O'Neil
Jack Kennedy and Sally O'Neil
Jack Kennedy
Jack Kennedy
Lon Chaney Jr. and Maurice Black
Lon Chaney Jr. and Maurice Black
Lon Chaney Jr. and Si Jenks
Lon Chaney Jr. and Si Jenks
Lon Chaney Jr. and Si Jenks
Lon Chaney Jr. and Si Jenks
Lon Chaney Jr. kisses Sally O'Neil
Lon Chaney Jr. kisses Sally O'Neil
Lon Chaney Jr.
Lon Chaney Jr.
Maurice Black and Lon Chaney Jr.
Maurice Black and Lon Chaney Jr.
Russell Simpson and Sally O'Neil
Russell Simpson and Sally O'Neil
Sally O'Neil and Lon Chaney Jr.
Sally O'Neil and Lon Chaney Jr.
Sally O'Neil
Sally O'Neil
Si Jenks and Constantine Romanoff
Si Jenks and Constantine Romanoff