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Wednesday, August 30. 2017
With one exception, all of the movies I've reviewed over the past few months have been fairly recent releases. Today, we step back in time.
Here are five wonderful war flicks from the early days:
— Sink The Bismarck (1960)
— The Enemy Below (1957)
— Destination Tokyo (1943)
— Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
— Operation Petticoat (1959)
And there are certain features that distinguish these films from the modern war flick. There's no gorgeous starlet awaiting our hero when he returns home. There's no trick computer gimmicks or the latest, hot special effects. There's no frantic, hurried-up pace; in fact, some of the events actually take place in (gasp!) real-time. There's no thunderous music score when the bad guy is finally bested. And, just as interesting, there's no long list in the credits of stunt men. If there's any list at all.
In other words, these films are genuine.
In a way, it's a refreshing change.
Sink The Bismarck
This might be my favorite of the bunch. Good character development of the main players, fairly realistic photography, it features the absolutely delicious Dana Wynter in her prime, and the story line stays fairly close to what really happened.
Here's the big ol' girl blowing HMS Hood outta the water:
I have an article on the sinking of the Bismarck here.
The Enemy Below
On the other hand, there's lots of action in this puppy from beginning to end. It's basically a cat-and-mouse game between a US destroyer, captained by the redoubtable Robert Mitchum, as he chases a German U-boat across the seas, helmed by the quintessential German sub captain, Curt Jürgens.
Here's their first engagement:
And, just to note, not everything goes Mitchum's way. After all, those U-boat captains were a wily bunch.
Based on a true event, this is the story of a US submarine sneaking into Tokyo Harbor in order to gather intelligence for the upcoming Doolittle raid. Historians will argue that its success was vital to the mission. Great drama, lots of tension, good character development, and it's fun seeing Cary Grant at the helm. Also, we note that this was actually filmed while the war was still ongoing, so there's a certain realism that makes it particularly gritty.
Here's how the brave men of the Silent Service managed to pull off such a daring feat:
Run Silent Run Deep
Featuring a great combo of Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, this movie is tops. Through some wile unbeknown to the Americans, four subs have been sunk in the Bungo Straits off the coast of Japan. A fresh sub is sent to the area with specific instructions not to enter the Straits. But that's not going to stop Gable, who survived the first sinking, and now has vengeance is his eyes.
The Americans believe the four sinkings were due to one particular Jap destroyer, so Gable has devised a plan to counter it. He drills the men unmercifully to whittle their dive time down to a record low. Here's the first implementation of the plan.
Call it a practice run if you will:
In this particular case, I actually have the movie online.
We'll end this review on an upbeat note, featuring a lighthearted romp through the WW II seas. If you've seen this movie and remember the ending, a better title might be Operation Busty Bra, but, granted, Petticoat has a nicer ring to it.
Much to the horror of a now-older Cary Grant, their sub has been forced to take five of those 'women' things aboard. Chaos ensues, of course. A young Tony Curtis turns in a wonderful performance as a scavenger extraordinaire as he steals, begs, pilfers, deals, and wheedles his way into procuring the necessary parts to keep the sub afloat.
Suddenly, the sub is on an American-occupied island and desperately needs parts, but everything's been taken into the hills and there's not a scrap to be found. What to do? Simple. Let the servicemen bring the parts to you.
In the scene where the army guy has scrounged up eight cans of red undercoat paint and twelve cans of white, the deal is made. Unfortunately, just after they've mixed the twenty cans together and applied it, the Jap planes arrive and the sub has to vamoose. So, what happens when you mix red and white paint together?
Decorum prohibits me from saying anything further.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 15:00 | Comments (33) | Trackbacks (0)
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I remember seeing that gem years and years ago. Leslie Caron, hubba-hubba! I didn't actually 'forget' it, though, I just wanted to keep the number of reviews down to five. If I'd tossed in a sixth, it would have been "Murphy's War".
Fun post! I've seen all of those except "Destination Tokyo". It's now on the list. And I agree about "Bismarck". A great flick. The part where he thought he might have lost his son added a wonderful dimension to it. Human pathos, and all that.
I'll toss in "The Dam Busters" for a classic, no nonsense British war movie. Richard Todd is memorable as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, who led the RAF's 617 Squadron on the raid on the key German dams. Attempts to remake this movie have always come upon the awkward fact that Gibson's beloved black Lab was killed by a car just before the raid, thus the dog's name became the code word to be radioed for a successful dam breach. The dog's name was the N-word. It was a very different era.
Interesting comment, although I have the solution. Simply hire Quentin Tarantino to make it. His "Django Unchained" used the n-word something like 110 times, and "The Hateful Eight" only a few less times. Problem solved! :)
The interesting thing about Battleground is how the characters develop. For example, the green replacement gradually morphs into a veteran, the man who hates Hates HATES a southern comrade's use of the word "dadgummit" ends up picking up the word himself. . .
I need to watch it again.
Aww sh*t. Replied to the wrong comment. I am not having a good day.
As for the Dambusters, it is one of the all time great war movies. It's pretty much a docudrama that sticks fairly close to the facts. The only thing you can really mark it down for are the special effects which are not good.
Love this movie.
Another good war film about WWII is "Battleground". It's about the 101st at Bastogne starring Van Johnson and James Whitmore. Excellent war picture in my opinion.
1949! Sounds like fun. And the IMDb crowd liked it -- gave it a 7.5. I'll hunt it down, and thanks!
And a very young Ricardo Montalban.
"Da Nazis, Boss, Da Nazis"
Thanks, Doc. I have my own copy of "Sink the Bismarck". Have not seen "Destination Tokyo" or "Run Silent, Run Deep" but my local library probably has both.
A few years ago I watched on PBS a special about the search for the wreck of HMS Hood. A research team located the wreck and visited it with the last living survivor (of only three) of the sinking, Ted Briggs. They held a brief memorial ceremony. Very moving.
Re Ted Briggs
The HMS Hood Association has excerpts from Briggs' book on their site covering his time on the Hood.
Briggs was in communications so his duties put him on the bridge. This is an excellent read for those who are interested.
Doc - I just finished watching your streaming version of 'Run Silent Run Deep'. Very cool movie, and the interplay between Gable and Lancaster was right on the money. The scene you described on the page was one for the books, and it was great the way the XO came around at the end and kicked butt. Much thanks for both the post and the flick!
All war film buffs would do well to watch the 3-part series, Five Came Back. It tells the stories of five U.S. film directors – John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra, and George Stevens – and their frontline work during the Second World War and includes some rarely-seen footage...
Aside from being narrated by Meryl Streep, it's worthwhile war movie viewing, and is available on Netflix.
The description on the site you linked to makes it sound quite interesting! Much thanks for the tip!
A great flick, and a seriously nasty ending, but not 'vintage' enough for this post. Call me crazy, but Sidney Poitier and Clark Gable just don't mix. :)
Great song by Johnny Horton: Sink the Bismarck.
He was killed by a drunk driver in 1960 at the age of 35. No telling what we missed. Here's one that hints at what might have been:
Reminds me of Jim Reeves.
I've got that video (and song) on the Bismarck page I linked to. Good intro for the article. Really sets the mood. :)
Great list, though I would add one of my favorite John Wayne movies-
They were Expendable (1945) Wayne and Robert Montgomery lead a group of PT boats during the fall of the Philippines
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out. The IMDb crowd gave it a 7.3, so they liked it.
I'm surprised nobody mentioned "The Cruel Sea." It was the most successful British box office hit in 1953. I was 10 years old when I saw it in 54 and it left a lasting impression.
Thanks, it's downloading as I type. Got "They Were Expendable" just before that, so should be a fun evening.
BTW, your blog site is terrific. Spent almost an hour on it. Too bad it's basically dead at this point, but there's always hope you'll fire it back up at some point. If you do, let me know and I'll link to it in some future post.
Thank you so much for the compliment. I had so many irons in the fire and I am a two finger typist and I am obsessed with grammar and syntax that even a short piece took too long to produce. I moved from Newfoundland to Florida in 13 and am having great fun enjoying my 7 acre retreat in the country. I may just gin up the old blog, if so you will be the first to know.
My wife says I should write a few books about what I have done, it's a lot in 73 years. Ah, just thought of something you might like. While in Newfoundland my wife was presented with a Travelocity gnome and we took pictures of him as we wandered around the island. Check out her vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xavrxvQd8XM
The video was great! My first thought was of that story a few years ago when someone stole a lawn gnome and brought it all around the US, posting pictures of it all the while, then returned it at the end. Yours, at least, was legal. :)
What a fun post! I confess, while I like old WWII flicks, I've never paid much attention to the seagoing aspect, and especially in the Pacific. This post turned me around. I just never quite realized how harrowing must be in submarine when a destroyer is depthcharging your ass. All are now on my RedBox and Netflix list, and thanks for a great post.
Mixing red & white paint - I get it! :-)
"Mixing red & white paint - I get it!"
It wasn't pretty. :(
Or, maybe it was. :)
Okay, 'adorable', it is.
"Cute" also works. :)
Go rent the flick. It's hilarious. Especially when the 'adorable' sub is fired on by the US Navy, heh.
"Hell in the Pacific."
A flawed execution, but conceptually it's great.
The premise sounds great!
"During World War II, an American pilot and a marooned Japanese navy captain are deserted on a small uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean. There, they must cease their hostility and cooperate if they want to survive, but will they?"
It's downloading as I type. Much thanks!
The enemy below was the first hollywood job that got the actual sound of sonar right. Stood a few sonar watches on QHBA and SQS4. Didn't care much for the Bismark flic. Liked all of the others.