There is some masterful miniature work here by Fred Sersen’s department at 20th Century Fox. Made and set during the second World War, pretty much the entire film is a special effect with most of it shot against a rear projection process screen.
The opening title sequence is a large scale close up miniature of a smoking funnel which in a long continuous shot sinks into the sea. A German supply vessel is blown up and sinks with very effective pyrotechnics and some effective split screen composites of foreground lifeboat, midground live action row boat and background miniature.
As with this story’s earlier incarnation in “Anna and the King of Siam” ( 1946) there is a paddle steamer miniature in the opening shots, along with a painted Bangkok, this time in full colour and featured in two shots of its own uncovered by credits or cast.
It could well be the same miniature that appears in another 4 features, as previously discussed in “Anna and the King of Siam“.
The Special Photographic Effects supervisor was Ray Kellog who headed the department at 20th century fox at the time. For more information on the 20th Century Fox’s “scenic art department” as the special effects department was known, I direct you to this entry in NZ Pete’s excellent Matt Shot blog.
A miniature paddle steamer and painted Bangkok harbor can be seen behind the credits and as a rear projection process screen behind the cast in a few of the opening shots of the movie, supervised by the very capable Fred Sersen.
Wayne, a reader of this site, informs me that this model was originally built for “Reap the Wild Wind” in 1942 and subsequently appeared as the nitrate ship in “20 000 leagues under the sea” in 1954. This could also possibly be the same model re-used for the musical version of the very same story in “The King and I” in 1956 and the same re-painted model used in ” In Search of the Castaways” in 1962 .