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Action in the North Atlantic (1943) Poster

Trivia

Two replica ships were built on the Warner Brothers sound stages before John Howard Lawson's screenplay for this movie was even completed.
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When shooting the scene early in the movie, when their characters abandoned ship from their burning tanker, Humphrey Bogart and Raymond Massey got into a friendly argument over who had the better stunt double. In the end, the two stars decided to do away with their stunt doubles altogether and wound up doing the stunt themselves. Massey elaborates on this anecdote in detail in his autobiography, 'A Hundred Different Lives'.
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Director Lloyd Bacon and producer Jerry Wald were prevented from filming at sea due to the US government's wartime restrictions, so the entire film was shot on Warner Bros.' sound stages and its back lot.
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According to the book "Bill Collins Presents the Golden Years of Hollywood" by Bill Collins, "For certain scenes, amazingly created on the screen, a replica of a ten thousand-ton tanker was built inside Warner Brothers sound stages six and seven. Each stage contained one half the ship's hull and deck-housing fixtures. This ship had to be torpedoed with its gasoline cargo on fire [for the movie]. Then a Liberty Ship was constructed on the same two sound stages for later scenes in the film. Furthermore, the size of these sets prohibited their being fixed on rocking equipment. The rocking had to come from the camera, so the camera was mounted on a crane to simulate movement!".
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Bernard Zanville's billing was changed to Dane Clark upon the theatrical release of this movie.
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This movie is considered a Second World War wartime propaganda film of the United States.
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Director Lloyd Bacon's contract with Warner Bros. expired during production. Jack L. Warner told him, "Finish the picture and we'll talk about it," but Bacon wasn't willing to continue without a contract. Warner fired him and brought in Byron Haskin to finish the film.
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Near the end of the picture, as the ship is nearing Murmansk, several Russian airplanes fly out to meet them. One of the pilots keeps gunning his engine in short bursts. There are three short bursts followed by a long one. Movie audiences of the 1940s would immediately recognize this as the three dots and a dash of the Morse code "V". "V for Victory" was heavily used as a slogan during World War II.
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The aircraft used to attack the Sea Witch were Heinkel HE-59 biplanes.
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According to the DVD sleeve notes, this movie was used a a recruiting film for the US Merchant Marine. They also state that the film utilized real war combat footage.
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The film's director, Lloyd Bacon, was head of the US Navy's photo unit during World War I and star Humphrey Bogart was in the US Navy during the war. He was also an avid recreational sailor.
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Actual German and Soviet dialogue and aircraft were used in the movie.
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According to the book "The Films of World War II' by Joe Morella, Edward Z. Epstein and John Griggs, at the film's premiere in New York on May 21, 1943, Warner Brothers studio chief Jack L. Warner was presented with the Merchant Marine's Victory Flag by 300 sailors, 17 torpedo seamen and the US Merchant Marine band. The seamen first marched into the auditorium before the presentation. Apparently, this was "the first war pennant awarded to a member of the film industry."
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This movie's opening prologue is a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt. It reads: "Today in the face of this newest and greatest challenge of them all, we of the United Nations have cleared our decks and taken our battle stations. It is the will of the people that America shall deliver the goods. It can never be doubted that the goods WILL be delivered by this nation, which believes in the tradition of 'DAMN THE TORPEDOES; FULL SPEED AHEAD!'" 'Franklin D. Roosevelt'
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This movie's marketing connected the film with two of the studio's earlier pictures, Sergeant York (1941) and Air Force (1943), by saying that the picture was "in the heroic tradition" of these two earlier movies.
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Alvah Bessie, a writer who worked uncredited on this film, once wrote, according to Bill Collins in his book "Bill Collins Presents the Golden Years of Hollywood", that this movie " . . . was one of very few movies made in America which not only showed there was a trade union movement, but also had scenes in the union hall, said a few basic things about unionism and showed what being a union member could mean for a man."
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Several writers who worked on the picture, including John Howard Lawson, A.I. Bezzerides and an uncredited Alvah Bessie, were later investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee for "subversive" activities and blacklisted. Bessie and Lawson became known as as members of the Hollywood Ten, a group of writers and directors who refused to answer questions from the Committee by invoking their Fifth Amendment rights under the US Constitution and who were subsequently sent to prison for doing so.
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Art Gilmore provides the voice of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of this picture.
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The film was accused by conservatives of containing "pro-union" and "left-wing" propaganda.
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A very early press release for this movie made the announcement that Edward G. Robinson and George Raft were to star in this picture.
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Reportedly Warner Bros. had originally intended to make only a two-reel documentary on the Merchant Marines, but as the war progressed, it was decided to make an entire feature film instead, the result of which was this film.
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This movie went into production a mere five short weeks after producer producer Jerry Wald was assigned the movie.
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Shooting went 45 days over schedule.
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Julie Bishop and Raymond Massey repeated their roles of Pearl O'Neill and Captain Steve Jarvis on radio in a "Lux Radio Theatre" broadcast on May 15, 1944. The program also starred George Raft, who was originally to appear in the film before production began.
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Very few early World War II films featured African-Americans in the US military. Star Humphrey Bogart was quoted in 'The Pittsburgh Courier' on 26 September 1942 as saying that he wanted to have a black Merchant Marine captain in this film. He said, "In the world of the theatre or any other phase of American life, the color of a man's skin should have nothing to do with his rights in a land built upon the self-evident fact that all men are created equal."
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Director of Phototography Ted D. McCord was replaced by Tony Gaudio after McCord left the production to join the US Army.
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This was producer Jerry Wald's final film before entering US military service.
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At the end of the movie, Humphrey Bogart says, "I'm just thinking about the trip back." This is a double entendre. On the one hand it means the voyage back home may encounter rough seas and/or weather, but there is also an interpretation relating to Russians seen rejoicing at the end of this picture. Bogart does not return their friendly advances and remains quiet and a seaman asks why. The "I'm just thinking about the trip back" line can be considered a reference to having to deal with the Russian comrades, something which is ironic considering the film does have pro-unionist and left-wing political dialogue elements in the script. This line was cut out of the movie often when it played on television in America.
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Ship-building magnate Henry J. Kaiser thought the film was a morale booster and liked the movie so much that he wanted to screen it to his fellow industrialists who were involved in the war effort.
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According to A.I. Bezzerides in the book "Screenwriter: Words Become Pictures", some of the scenes written by writer John Howard Lawson were "so out of context in their propagandistic way that the actors couldn't act them." Bezzerides cited scenes involving Humphrey Bogart and Julie Bishop and Raymond Massey and Ruth Gordon in particular. He went on to say that he polished every scene in the film and deserved credit, but Lawson fought against it. Bezzerides claimed that Lawson had so many friends in the Writers Guild that he lost the arbitration and went uncredited.
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Raymond Massey and Ruth Gordon had previously played a married couple, Abraham and Mary Lincoln, in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940).
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While the convey is ready to depart, naval flags for a number of countries are shown. One war-period flag is the Free French Naval Ensign, displaying the Cross of Lorraine, used from June 1940-May 1945.
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