Beneath the 12-Mile Reef was only the second or 3rd film released in CinemaScope. After the success of the first CinemaScope feature, The Robe, the folks at Fox felt this technology could be applied to smaller films. This is an adventure film with a Romeo and Juliet vibe. The story of 2 young people from competing families who fall in love is nothing new at all. However you can not take your eyes off it due to absolutely gorgeous widescreen and vibrant colors of the setting of Florida.
This is movie you don’t sell to audiences on plot and character, you sell CinemaScope and star power. In this film’s case, Robert Wagner. Wagner’s delivery of his lines are quite strong and full of charisma, but he stands out almost too much from the rest of the cast. I wish he could have matched the energy of Terry Moore or even Peter Graves as his nemesis. That being said, this is a well paced, beautifully shot, thrilling adventure/love story that is a kind of hidden gem of one of classic Hollywood’s final technical innovations. If I grew up in the 50s, I’d want to see every movie I could in CinemaScope, the tech is the star.