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This may be the best of the World War II era submarine warfare movies made
during the war. The captain, played by the always wonderful Randolph Scott
(see him in "Gung Ho") has just lost an officer on a booby-trapped German
sub - and then he comes across the always beautiful and luminous Ella Raines
on shore who is the resentful sister of the dead officer. Scott meanwhile
has to handle her somewhat irresponsible younger brother who is a new
officer on Scott's Corvette. This may not be likely in reality, but it makes
for a good dramatic situation.
Some romance simmers with Scott and Raines (not too much!) before the Corvette sails. The convoy it protects and its captains from Allies all over the world is handled very well. Scott is masterful as the captain, and the battle scenes with the German U-boats are realistic and vicious. This is a gritty movie that gives a good depiction of the absolutely vital Battle of the Atlantic and the crucial role convoy escorts played in winning the war against Hitler.
I hadn't seen this movie for many years, and when I watched it again recently I was amazed at the surprising realism for a 1942 era war propaganda movie. Veteran skipper Randolph Scott is forced to put to sea in a new corvette (a very small ship) with almost no other experienced crew members, and virtually no time to train the new crew. The horrid living conditions aboard ship are realistically portrayed: the tiny ship tosses about on the ocean while water cascades over and through every part of the ship. On top of this there are also German U-boats to contend with. Of course all of this was done on sound stages and model sets, but they are amazingly realistic for the period. I am ready to watch it again!
It's one of those rare w.w.2 movies that spotlights Canada.I felt very proud watching it.There's not very many movies showing my counties contibutions during the war.Great story,great acting.A realistic telling of the battle of the atlantic.
Though this takes place on a warship, it bears resemblance to WB's
Action in the North Atlantic also of 1943 which is set on a merchant
ship. Randolph Scott is the sheriff uh captain of the named ship,among
the crew is a young Robert Mitchum. Mr. Scott delivers but not until
the postwar period will he develop in my mind the seriousness that
saved him from the wooden Indian junk heap. The final duel between the
U Boat and the corvette is exciting and (very rare in films of this
era)the enemy are portrayed as formidable foes.
A pretty good not great action film if say this film and the Magnificent Seven or the Tall T came on different channels would opt for the others with a switchback to watch the ship to sub duel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An exciting tale of Captain Randolph Scott, his corvette and his crew,
shepherding an allied convoy from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to England, and
fighting off U-boats along the way.
Scott and some of his men have survived the sinking of their previous ship. Scott visits the sister, Ella Raines, of one of his officers killed in action. The fall improbably in love. And when Scott departs on his new ship, he takes with him Raines' other brother, James Brown, who just graduated from midshipman school or whatever it's called. Perhaps out of a sense of guilt, Scott bears down heavily on his new Sub Lieutenant, and Brown is at first petulant but eventually shapes up and helps save the ship in its final combat with a U-boat.
I don't know for sure that I should have used the word "improbable" to describe the immediate affection that develops between Scott and Raines. In fact, the whole movie is one improbability after another. The greatest improbability of all is probably the fact that a Canadian corvette is able to sink two U-boats with her depth charges all by herself. With the technology available when the film was made, it just seems unlikely. Corvettes were relatively small, uncomfortable, and lightly armed. On the surface, they stood about an even chance against a submarine, and with their flank speed of 16 knots or so they could be outrun.
There are many familiar faces among the crew and there's no need to list them all but it's a surprise to see Peter Lawford, Charles McGraw, and Cliff Robertson among the uncredited. The relationships below decks is reasonably familiar too. A pair of seamen are known for their good-natured fist fights. A dog is smuggled aboard. (Howard Hawks shamelessly copied himself and sometimes others. The smuggled dog appears in Hawks' "Air Force" too.) Barry Fitzgerald is the stereotypical Irishman. The men suffer all sorts of tribulations, including oil in the coffee and rough weather with everything banging about. In school I always wondered what happened to a man who became sea sick. How much time does he get off? Is there any medicine? I found out when I was a Seaman Second Class. You get no time off, you stand your watch and there is no medicine. If your station is not on a weather deck, you're provided with a bucket to puke in. The King's navy knocked off that "tot of rum" business aboard ship about forty years ago, joining the rest of us bluenoses in our abstention.
The narrative bogs down considerably near the beginning, when Scott, Raines, and Brown are working out the values of their triad. We all want them to get to sea and start the movie but, at the time, it was considered de rigueur to insert a love interest, presumably to keep the female audience occupied. Usually, as here, it detracts from the movie's impact, but it needn't have if it's handled more than perfunctorily, as it was in "Pride of the Marines." Studio sets alternate with combat footage. They're reasonably well integrated. In some ways it reminded me of Warner's "Action in the North Atlantic" only it wasn't so action packed. It didn't remind me very much of "The Cruel Sea," which is far superior to either of the others.
A surprise was the performance of Randolph Scott as the skipper. Scott's performances alternated between a kind of cocky self-confidence and a stony taciturnity. In his fine series of inexpensive Westerns directed by Budd Boetticher in the 1950s, he could be a real spoilsport. But here he's subdued and authoritative without being at all grim. He may have put more into his part in this infrequently seen movie than in any of his others. Ella Raines is completely unnecessary but she was certainly beautiful in a strictly conventional way. He hair is dark, long, wavy, and lustrous. Any normal man would want to run barefoot through it. James Brown became a Warner's stalwart and, except for a certain amiable quality, had only a modest talent but it worked for him.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This fine above average film about the Royal Canadian Navy, is a perfect showcase for Randolph Scott to prove his versatility as an actor, out of the saddle of westerns. He gives a strong performance as Lieut. Commander MacClain, in charge of a Royal Canadian corvette cruiser, dedicated to keeping the troops safe from enemy submarine attack. Ella Raines is his on shore love interest, but her role is not the focal part in this story. Basically, it revolves around on the danger- ridden journey from Halifax to Britain with the tenseness adequately heightened by the use of actual World War 2 combat action. The film includes a colourful cast of characters, Barry Fitzgerald, James Brown, Andy Devine, Noah Beery Jr, Fuzzy Knight and even a quick look at relatively newcomer Robert Mitchum, who all help to move the story along with a satisfactory pace. This movie gives a good representation of the valiant and crucial role, convoy escorts of the Atlantic played in the help to win the war. I really appreciated watching Corvette K-225, because it doesn't mire down with any unnecessary romantic story lines.
****I checked with a military buff friend of mine to be sure, but the
Corvette was the Canadian name for a ship that would be classified as a
I certainly agree with your assessment of the movie, but I'm going to "split a hair or two" about how a Corvette compares to other navy ships.
Actually, a Corvette was quite a bit smaller than an American Destroyer Escort. Corvettes were about 1000 tons and had one engine and screw. DEs had twin screw propulsion and were 1500 tons or more.
A Destroyer Escort was closer to what the Royal Canadian Navy called a Frigate, which was larger and had twin screws. A typical smallish convoy would have a Frigate and 4 Corvettes as its navy escort.
My dad served in the RCN doing convoy duty on HMCS Arnprior, a castle-class Corvette. He always felt that the depiction of a Corvette rolling in heavy seas as shown in the movie was spot on. The RCN joke was that "a Corvette would roll on wet grass".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having tried to track this down for years, by virtue of partner's late father having served in Royal Navy corvettes in WW2 - and having visited the last surviving Flower-class, HMCS Sackville, in Halifax NS last autumn, this film's presentation in the National Film Theatre's 2011 Howard Hawks season was a chance not to be missed. It ran wildly over budget for a routine flag waver; in places, if Randolph Scott's acting had been any more wooden, they could have made a table out of him. Clichés abound; punches are pulled ("Where's Number One?" "He's dead, sir"), the model work is creaky (as is the script in places) even for the time. But the action footage, shot on real convoys, is of genuine interest and atmosphere and as others have said, it captures the awful, cramped, sodden hell of it all we heard about. "The Cruel Sea" it certainly is not; we don't know if my partner's Dad ever saw this film, but I'm sure he would have approved.
The unsung contribution of the Royal Canadian Navy in providing escort
service for Atlantic convoys gets its tribute in Corvette K-225. The
film is very similar to the Humphrey Bogart classic Action In the North
I checked with a military buff friend of mine to be sure, but the Corvette was the Canadian name for a ship that would be classified as a destroyer escort and that's what their function was, escorting American and Canadian supplies to the European theater.
Randolph Scott stars as the stalwart captain who as the film opens has just lost a ship, but is anxious to get back in the fight. And of course those of the crew who survived want to return to action with him.
But Scott has a lot of newbies on board including mostly new officers among them James Brown whose brother was lost on Scott's previous ship. Scott also has taken an interest in Ella Raines who is Brown's sister.
That's the romantic portion which is strictly second fiddle to the war action. Though we get a good amount of flag waving here, the film given its time is surprisingly free of overblown heroics. For that reason it holds up well today.
Such familiar people as Barry Fitzgerald, Andy Devine, and Fuzzy Knight are in the crew filling out their stereotypical roles. Don't blink or you will miss Robert Mitchum in a very small role as one of the crew.
Corvette K-225 is a fine tribute to our Canadian allies whose contributions to Allied victory in World War II is often overlooked.
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