Fire Down Below (1957 film)

Fire Down Below is a 1957 Anglo-American adventure drama film with a screenplay written by novelist Irwin Shaw, starring Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, and directed by Robert Parrish. Based on Max Catto's 1954 novel with the same title, the picture was made by Warwick Films on location in Trinidad and Tobago, in Technicolor and CinemaScope, and released by Columbia Pictures.

Fire Down Below
US cinema release poster
Directed byRobert Parrish
Produced byAlbert R. Broccoli
Irving Allen
Screenplay byIrwin Shaw
Based onFire Down Below
1954 novel
by Max Catto (as Simon Kent)
StarringRita Hayworth
Robert Mitchum
Jack Lemmon
Music byArthur Benjamin
Douglas Gamley
Ken Jones
CinematographyDesmond Dickinson
Edited byJack Slade
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 30 May 1957 (1957-05-30) (UK [1])
  • 8 August 1957 (1957-08-08) (USA [2])
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$2,050,000 (US only)[3]


After the Korean War, Americans Tony (Lemmon) and Felix (Mitchum) own a tramp boat, the Ruby, which they use for small-scale smuggling around the Caribbean, along with a third crewman, Jimmy Jean (Edric Connor). One day, their bartender contact, Miguel (Anthony Newley), introduces them to an American businessman who has been enjoying the company of beautiful but passport-less European goddess Irena (Hayworth). He has to return to Detroit, but wants to arrange for her to get to another island. They are reluctant, but $1,200 proves very tempting.

On the voyage, Tony starts falling in love with her. Knowing the kind of woman she is, Felix does his best to protect his partner by warning Irena to stay away from Tony. However, Felix starts falling for her himself. When she disembarks, Tony goes with her, ending his partnership with Felix.

Tony and Jimmy Jean take on a shady job, but are intercepted by the authorities. They have to abandon ship and swim to a nearby island to avoid arrest. Tony takes a job on a cargo ship to get back to Irena. He also plans to kill Felix, correctly suspecting that his former partner tipped off the customs agents to get rid of the competition for Irena. However, while Tony is away, she goes to Felix and confesses she loves him.

After a collision, Tony is trapped below deck under a girder with time running out; the ship is aflame and carrying a highly explosive cargo. Doctor Sam Blake (Bernard Lee) offers the only way out, by amputating Tony's trapped legs, but he would rather die. Felix goes aboard and stays with him. An explosion frees Tony from the wreckage, and Felix carries him to safety.

After Tony has recovered, he confronts Felix and Irena in a bar. It is there he realises that Irena loves Felix and not him, leaving him to walk away and cut his losses by saying, "some days you win, some days you lose".


  • Rita Hayworth as Irena
  • Robert Mitchum as Felix Bowers
  • Jack Lemmon as Tony
  • Herbert Lom as Harbour Master
  • Bonar Colleano as Lt. Sellars
  • Bernard Lee as Sam Blake
  • Edric Connor as Jimmy Jean
  • Peter Illing as Captain of Ulysses
  • Joan Miller as Mrs. Canaday
  • Anthony Newley as Miguel
  • Eric Pohlmann as Hotel Owner
  • Lionel Murton as The American
  • Vivian Matalon as 1st U.S. Sailor
  • Gordon Tanner as 2nd U.S. Sailor
  • Maurice Kaufmann as 3rd U.S. Sailor
  • Murray Kash as Bartender
  • Maya Koumani as Waitress
  • Philip Baird as Young Man
  • Keith Banks as Drunken Young Man
  • 'Stretch' Cox Troupe Limbo Dance by (as the 'Stretch' Cox Troupe) (as 'Stretch' Cox and His Troupe also)
  • Shirley Rus as Other Dancer
  • Anatole Smirnoff as Other Dancer
  • Sean Mostyn as Other Dancer
  • Terence Skelton as Other Dancer (as Terry Skelton)
  • Greta Remin as Other Dancer
  • Robert Nelson as Other Dancer
  • Lorna Wood as Other Dancer
  • Brian Blades as Other Dancer
  • Barbara Lane as Other Dancer
  • Ken Tillson as Other Dancer
  • Gina Chare as Other Dancer
  • Roy Evans as Other Dancer


The film was Rita Hayworth's return to motion pictures after a four-year absence. The producer and part owner of the production company Warwick Films, Albert R. Broccoli, later to become famous as the producer of the first 16 Eon made James Bond films, makes a cameo appearance in the film as a drug smuggler.


The film had a gala premiere in the attendance of Princess Alexandra of Kent at the Odeon Marble Arch in London on 30 May 1957,[1] and went on general release in Britain the next day. It premiered in the USA two months later, on 8 August 1957.[2]


See also


  1. The Times, 30 May 1957, page 11, To-day's Arrangements: "Princess Alexandra attends ... the première of the film Fire Down Below in aid of the Greater London Fund for the Blind, Odeon Theatre, Marble Arch." - retrieved from The Times Digital Archive on 2014-06-06
  2. IMDb: Fire Down Below Release Info. Linked 2014-06-06
  3. "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
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