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Written by / 7/22/2016 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , ,

MAURY DEXTER'S HEIST FLICK 'RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA'

Year of Release and Capture of Raiders: 1964
A cross between beatnik frantic-bongo jazz and a ball game organist grinding between innings, the background music's not fully intended to be paid attention to...

As it starts and stops again and again, louder than even the external noises of an apartment building or one street on Catalina Island's Avalon, where the RAIDERS, not really FROM BENEATH THE SEA — the title making this b-caper heist-thriller sound like some kind of aquatic creature feature...

But leading crook Ken Scott, a tall, handsome, square-jawed part-time diver and full time building manager plans on wearing frogmen scuba gear in order to, well...

At first the plan, conceived in various rooms by Bill and his ragtag, thrown-together "gang" (straight out of a hybrid of gutsy pulp and Ernest Hemingway) consisting of a professional yet timidly reluctant old diver and his polar opposite flip-side in a young and shirtless, flirtatious, beer-drinking loser who spends his life hanging around wives of tenants and especially yearns for big Bill's beautiful girlfriend...

Raiders Beneath the Score: ****
Enter the sole ingenue and our titular starlet, Merry Anders, as part of what we've alternately titled "Merry Anders Cinema," this is her smallest second-billed (which she usually is) role and yet, she alone gives this b-movie a touch of Film Noir element in that she knows what's about to "go down" and then has to come to moral grips with it, which can ruin the entire score... So, given her frustrating lack of screen-time, she's actually pretty important...

Booth Coleman and Kirk Scott
For a "bad movie" BENEATH, or one that has unfairly attained that reputation simply for being low budget and obscure — directed by one of our favorite drive-in auteurs, Maury Dexter, isn't too shabby, randomly adding a spooky horror/science-fiction orchestration during particularly suspenseful moments without dialogue...

Or, like some of his biker flicks later on, a bongo-driven avalanche. But there's mostly talk going on here, with conversations about the heist, especially when the inspired idea-man who'd discussed it a year earlier, Booth Coleman's Purdy, seeming like the token monologue actor (as opposed to tough guy reactor), fills space as the second act flows neatly into the extremely anticipated caper — that's where the jazzy organ grinder really comes alive...

Merry Anders under someone's perspective
You can almost feel the cool salt wind of Avalon's bright daylight as two of the frogmen, Bill and veteran actor Russ Bender as Tucker – the diving expert who's boat they're using while Coleman and the drunk kid wait on board — walk with harpoons like rifles up to the nearby bank...

But the real, most palpable suspense already peaked when the vapid punk almost screwed the entire deal by trying to do that very thing with Anders' put-upon Dottie...

And finally, to equal his muscular and tall, square-jawed persona, here we got to see just how strong Bill really is, practically knocking the kid's life-lights out. And as we all know by now, in the Noir genre, which RAIDERS is a Matchbox Car rendition of the Indy 500, "Crime Never Pays..." And so the turnout, while predictable and anti-climatic, just might raise the viewer's pulse rate with some last minute violence providing this groovy 1964 programmer a little glimpse of 1970's exploitation drive-in fare — and would've actually worked much better had it been made a decade later... Perhaps timing's the real problem.
Lobby Card Artwork... Getting a glimpse of RAIDERS BENEATH in color... Merry Anders, Kirk Scott
Merry Anders and Kirk Scott in RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Russ Bender in RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Garth "I get about as much attention as Whistler's Father" Benton in Raiders from Beneath the Sea
Garth Benton and Merry Anders in RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Garth Benton and Merry Anders in RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA
Booth Coleman, Kirk Scott, Russ Bender & Garth Benton in Raiders Beneath the Sea

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