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Best friends Kenneth Reynolds and Raymond Jordan are U.S. Navy officers, and Kenneth is engaged to Raymond's sister. But the eruption of the Civil War divides them, as Raymond stands by his native Virginia while Kenneth remains on duty as a Northern officer. Kenneth's uncle, John Ericsson, designs a new kind of ship, an ironclad he calls the Monitor. Eventually the war pits Kenneth, on board the Monitor, against his friend Raymond, serving aboard the South's own ironclad, the Merrimac (as it is called here). A naval battle ensues, one that will go down in history. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
(Opening dedication) This is a story of ships and men -- iron ships and men of iron -- the monitors of liberty. To the first "Monitor" of them all, to the gallant men who fought for and against her, this picture is respectfully dedicated. See more »
Lew Ayres directed Hearts In Bondage and with a title like that you would think it was some tender romantic story. Romance there is in this film about a pair of naval officers, best friends who go their separate ways when the Civil War starts. It was like that in many families at the time. But all this is set against the backdrop of a fairly accurate retelling of the Monitor and Merrimac engagement in Chesapeake Bay, the great battle of the ironclads.
James Dunn and David Manners are the two officers in question. Dunn in fact is engaged to Mae Clarke who is the sister of Manners. And Manners is pledged to Charlotte Henry who is the daughter of Henry B. Walthall who resigns his naval commission when Virginia secedes and goes with the Confederacy.
Dunn is also the nephew of the real John Ericson who designed the Monitor. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles is played by Irving Pichel and Frank McGlyn does his obligatory Abraham Lincoln portrayal.
The romance is touching and doesn't get in the way of the action. For 1936 and for the fact that the studio was a B one, Republic Pictures did not do a bad job with the action scenes with miniatures.
Ayres gets fine performances out of his ensemble cast which includes as Monitor crew members Ed Gargan, Gabby Hayes, and J.M.Kerrigan.
This film was a real find.
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