BrianRxm Coins in Movies 15/131
City Beneath The Sea (1953)
Treasure film inspires notorious fake gold bar and coin fraud
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The 1953 Universal-International color film "City Beneath the Sea" has a connection with the
notorious John J. Ford "Franklin Hoard" fake numismatic pioneer gold bars and coins fraud.
The film is a Caribbean diving adventure and was based on a magazine article about the sunken city of
Port Royal, Jamaica.
The article was written by Harry E. Rieseberg, a deep-sea diver and treasure hunter,
who wrote several books about his diving adventures including I Dive for Treasure.
Harry Rieseberg also helped write the script for the film.
There is a publicity photograph provided by Harry Rieseberg from one of his books which shows
gold bars and coins, but coins do not appear in the film.
The film is set in 1953 Jamaica and is about two former US Navy divers, Robert Ryan and
Anthony Quinn, who are hired by a shipping executive to locate the wreck of a modern cargo ship
which sank during a hurricane and recover the cargo of $1,000,000 in gold bars.
The "city beneath the sea" in the film is Port Royal, a Jamaican city and notorious pirate hangout
which sank into the ocean during an earthquake in 1692.
City Beneath The Sea
1. Title
This is a photograph which was used to advertise the film and was provided by Harry Rieseberg
from one of his diving books.
City Beneath The Sea Promo
2. Promotional photograph
Here is $28,000 worth, in gold, found during the undersea peregrinations of Lieut.
Harry E. Rieseberg, famed treasure hunter, whose experiences on the ocean bed near the
sunken city of Port Royal provide the background for his authorship of
Universal-International’s Technicolor adventure, "CITY BENEATH THE SEA".
The publicity photograph shows old Mexican eight reales coins and gold bars but
unfortunately no coins appear in the film.
However, there are some gold bars in the film.
City Beneath The Sea
3. Kingston, Jamaica
Professional divers Brad and Tony arrive in Kingston, Jamaica and head for the office of an
insurance company.
The company executive explains that a cargo ship, the "Lady Luck", sank in a hurricane and
was carrying $1,000,000 in gold bars.
City Beneath The Sea
4. Insurance manager pointing out the wreck
The executive wants the divers to locate the wreck and recover the gold.
There are no survivors from the crew and the sinking location was given by the ship captain
before the ship sank.
The lads drive into town and manage to hit a load of bananas belonging to a Terry, a lady
boat captain. She demands payment for the bananas, Brad pays her, and then hires her and
her boat to take them to the dive spot. She and Brad become friends.
City Beneath The Sea
5. Boat crew
Tony makes the first dive, finds nothing, and has a problem.
City Beneath The Sea
6. Brad in diving suit
Brad heads down and rescues Tony.
City Beneath The Sea
7. Diver in the water
This early 1950's diving suit has an air hose and a communication hose.
The insurance man discharges the divers, pays them off, and lads head to a Kingston bar.
City Beneath The Sea
8. Kingston bar
This bar is similar to the popular "Tiki bars" of the era.
Tony engages in a bar-fight over the singer Venita, then picks her up.
The sunken ship captain now turns up, he is alive and has the real location of the wreck.
He proposes to Tony that they get the gold for themselves.
Tony contacts Brad with the location but Brad wants to make only legal dives.
Another boat is hired and Tony dives to the location, which is in the sunken city of Port Royal.
He finds the ship.
City Beneath The Sea
9. Ship found in the sunken city
The natives believe that Port Royal is haunted and don't want anyone to go near it.
When they learn about the divers there, some stage a colorful voodoo ceremony to placate the spirits.
City Beneath The Sea
10. Voodoo ritual
Both boats arrive over the wreck and Brad is diving at the spot.
He has found something.
City Beneath The Sea
11. The real goods
Brad has found some gold bars.
The captain has a gun and holds the boat crew hostage.
City Beneath The Sea
12. Gunman on boat
There is a fight, then an earthquake, the bad guys go into the water, Brad is stuck at the wreck,
and Tony goes down to rescue him.
City Beneath The Sea
13. Diver rescue
The men surface without the loot.
City Beneath The Sea
14. Loot left behind
The lads and their ladies are on a ship leaving Kingston.
City Beneath The Sea
15. Sailing off
Robert Ryan as Brad Carlton
Anthony Quinn as Tony Bartlett
Mala Powers as Terry McBride
Suzan Ball as Venita aka Mary Lou Beetle
Director: Budd Boetticher
Writers: Harry E. Rieseberg, Jack Harvey, Ramon Romero
Connection between this film and the John J. Ford "Franklin Hoard":
The connection between the film and the John J. Ford "Franklin Hoard" fake coins and gold bars
is that supposedly the fake gold bars were based on the film prop bars.
There is lots of information on these fakes, including internet articles and a book.
"How the West was Faked: False Western Gold Bars and other Forgeries" by John M. Kleeberg,
published in 2009. How the West was Faked
The E-Sylum, June 23, 2013, online journal article. The E-Sylum
Wayne Homren, Editor The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
A book: John J. Ford and the "Franklin Hoard" by Karl V. Moulton, 2013.
Suspicious collector gold coins and pioneer gold bars began appearing in the 1950's.
Various numismatic experts either denounced them as fakes or claimed that they were real.
The items were traced to coin expert John J. Ford who marketed the items through coin dealers
in the 1950's. Most were apparently produced by a Paul Franklin who owned a small factory in
New York. The items later became known as the "Franklin Hoard".
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