Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring:||Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden, Brad Dexter|
This WWII Pacific submarine drama, set in 1942 and ’43, is not based on a true story, but on a novel by Capt. Edward Beach, Pres. Eisenhower’s Navy aide. The U.S. Navy supplied the equipment to make the interior shots as authentic as possible. Most of the exterior shots are done with miniatures, but are quite realistic.
Cmdr. Richardson (Clark Gable), who’s been riding a desk at Pearl Harbor, persuades the Navy brass to give him command of the U.S.S. Nerka in an attempt to “get” a destroyer that’s outfoxed and sunk every U.S. sub sent into the Bungo Straits for the past year (including Richardson’s previous boat). During the patrol there’s tension among the junior officers and the crew, and between Richardson and the XO, Lt. Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster); but Bledsoe won’t hear any talk of mutiny. Richardson has constructed an unusual plan of attack that he believes will give him an advantage. The cast also includes Jack Warden and Don Rickles.
Content: The acting and direction make this one of the better films of its genre. There are a few uses of d* and a*. There are some deaths on the American sub, and several ships are torpedoed. As in many war films of this type, there’s a very fine line between doing one’s duty (eliminating a dangerous enemy) and seeking personal vengeance. The enemy is not personalized and not portrayed as good or bad.
[Like most films scripted from a novel, this one departs quite a bit from the original. In the novel, the primary target was not just a destroyer, but a particular Japanese officer known as “Bungo Pete;” Pete laid an even more ingenious trap for American subs than the one shown in the film; and the American captain intended to make sure not only that all of Pete’s vessels were sunk, but also that Pete was dead (no such thing in the film).]
The service of burial at sea contains references to the certainty of the Resurrection, when “the sea shall give up its dead.” (Rev. 20:13) I recommended this film for war movie fans.