Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and cameraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on ... See full summary »
1938's "Submarine Patrol" was reportedly a personal favorite of director John Ford, rather surprising considering the classic status of his next few pictures, "Stagecoach," "Young Mr. Lincoln," "Drums Along the Mohawk," and "The Grapes of Wrath." It's a watchable but eminently forgettable entry, featuring such dependable 'stock company' members as George Bancroft, John Carradine, Jack Pennick, and Ward Bond. Top billed is newcomer Richard Greene, a holdover from "Four Men and a Prayer," as wealthy yachtsman and playboy Perry Townsend III, who joins the Navy during WW1 in the hope that his father's influence will earn him instant acclaim. Instead, he winds up assigned as Chief Engineer to the smallest craft in the 'Splinter Fleet' (the film's original shooting title), a mere 110 feet, under the supervision of Lt. Drake (Preston Foster), and a crew without any experience on the water, played by dependables like Douglas Fowley, Warren Hymer, Elisha Cook, George E. Stone, and Dick Hogan. Most of the running time is given to Perry's romancing of Susan Leeds (Nancy Kelly), whose disapproving father (George Bancroft) captains a munitions freighter. Her usual companion is first mate McAllison (John Carradine), whose sourpuss demeanor just can't compete with his charming new rival. This was Nancy Kelly's very first adult screen role, quickly followed by similar turns opposite Carradine in "Jesse James" and "Frontier Marshal." His future companion in horror, Lon Chaney, was employed at Fox for three years, rarely in featured roles. At least here his bit was more notable than most, six minutes in, just after Carradine's introduction; as a marine sentry, he watches Joan Valerie leave in a fancy car, commenting to Maxie Rosenbloom about the departing vehicle, "some chassy, huh sarge?" to which Maxie responds about the attractive Valerie, "I dunno, she was sittin' down all the time!" (Lon's double take is priceless). Chaney contributed to other Carradine titles at Fox- "This Is My Affair," "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Jesse James," and "Frontier Marshal." Carradine quickly reunited with Richard Greene in "The Hound of the Baskervilles," while Chaney did the same in 1952's "The Black Castle." John Ford moved on to the classic Western "Stagecoach."
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