Filmed in the sponge hunting capital Tarpon Springs, Florida, 16 Fathoms Deep is a remake of 1934's Sixteen Fathoms Deep, both featurng Lon Chaney, Jr., and both from low-budget Monogram Pictures. The 1948 flick stars a pre-Sea Hunt Lloyd Nolan, so it has that going for it. Also, the underwater scenes were actually filmed (ion "Ansco" color, no less) in the ocean, rather than in an oversized tank.
Lloyd Nolan plays Ray Douglas, recently from the Navy, who uses his Navy experience as a diver to hire on as a sponge hunter. Sponges are a lucrative business in Tarpon Springs and a good day at the sponge auction could net a large payoff. Lon Chaney (credited here without the "Jr.") is Mr. Dimitri, the crooked head of a sponge exchange who is trying to prevent Nolan from reaching the exchange. (This is a reversal for Chaney, who played the hero in the 1934 version.) Dimitri has planted a saboteur (Nick, played by Ian MacDonald) on Nolan's boat. John Qualen is Captain Athos, who had previously lost his boat to Dmitri. When Athos gets into trouble underwater. his son George (played by former child actor Dickie Moore in his second adult role) dives in to rescue him but gets his foot caught by a giant oyster; Nick cuts his air hose and Geroge dies. (sob). Dagwood actor Arthur Lake (who served as one of the film's producers) has a comic role. Eye Candy is courtesy of 23-year-old Tanis Chandler, who plays Simi, lusted after by Dimitri, but whose heart belongs to boat captain Alex (Eric Feldary).
Directed by Irving Allen, from a script by Max Trell and an adaptation by Forrest Judd. (Interestingly, Max Trell. a popular writer of children's stories for a quarter of a century, was one of the writers to replace Dashiell Hammett in scripting the comic strip Secret Agent X-9, and also collaborated on nthe Prince Valiant comi8c strip and several related books.) The source material for this film was "Sixteen Fathoms Under," a short story by pulp writer Eustace L. Adams (The American Magazine, November 1932). Adams was perhaps best-known for his aviation stories, especially the twelve novels in the Andy Lane series. Adams has nearly 160 fiction credits listed in FictionMags, inlcuding 14 stories in the Ray Spencer series in Air Trails magazine.
Enjoy this underwater adventure.