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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(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 »
This movie was made in 1936 and so we have to cut early movies a break since they were setting the standards for later improvements. Hearts in Bondage had some obvious miniatures but the special effects of naval battle were really good for the time. James Dunn was always a good actor, but somehow the military man part didn't seem to fit quite right. He was always great as character parts where he was the nice guy and I remember him in several Shirley Temple movies and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I saw that George Hayes and Ben Alexander were going to be in this. I never did pick out Ben Alexander (played opposite Jack Webb's Joe Friday on Dragnet) but there was no mistaking the voice of Gabby Hayes when he came into the scene. He played a squirrelly kind of part playing off Dunn in jail and then on the crew. Even though the part was strange, it is always a pleasure to see Hayes work. Mae Clark, whom you will remember as the woman that Cagney pushed a grapefruit into her face, did a decent job as Dunn's girlfriend. But it was one of those parts where just about anyone could have done it. The man who played Abraham Lincoln, Frank McGlynn, looked so much like Lincoln you believed it was him. He only had a few lines here or there but made the most of them. Western bit part players could be seen in this. Smiley Burnett was just part of the crew but he later teamed up with Gene Autry and you will remember him with the froggy voice. Another bit part in this was Charles King who (killed many times as the villain in a long list of westerns). Many more good actors involved and, although not on the list of better movies, it is still worth watching.
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