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This film is a bona-fide classic. Made during the height of the war,
and before it was a foregone conclusion that the Allies would
prevail, it shows a surprisingly detailed (if romanticized) portrayal
of life in the "Silent Service". The characters are finely drawn with a
craftsman director's skill, and are the archetypes for subsequent
films, not derivative cartoons.
This, like all films made during the war, must be taken in context as a form of propaganda. But it is still a fine effort that produces lasting impressions. Remember that a large number of viewers in theaters had family or friends serving in the military, and must have been astonished to see how their loved ones were fighting the war. While many technical details were abstracted for obvious security reasons, there are sufficiently accurate scenarios to satisfy. The appendectomy performed by a pharmacists mate with no surgical training was a real incident adapted for the screen.
All in all, a memorable epic which, like Casablanca, tells a story from a sense of urgency we cannot recreate today. Invaluable, and deserving of a good DVD transfer.
This movie is a great example of a thriller, not looking to be a non-fiction account of a WWII sub, just a great story with a group of true professionals. Cary Grant was so compelling in this role that Tony Curtis said he based his famous part in Some Like It Hot on Cary Grant's performance in this picture, and that Curtis always wanted to do a movie with Grant on a submarine from that moment forward---and of course got his wish with Operation Petticoat. A previous reviewer slammed this movie for its anti-Japanese propaganda. Perhaps a slight bit of history would help. Statisitically, an American POW was FOUR times likely to die as a prisoner of the Japanese than of the Germans. The end of the war saved the lives of thousands of Americans because their treatment in Japanese camps was so horrifying. Six foot tall sailors weighing 100 pounds was not an uncommon site. The same Japanese military also starved its own people in places like Okinawa to feed itself, and I would hope that all people would now be familiar with the 'rape of Nanking,' so what was called propaganda was more just the way of the world at the time. This is one reason that the people who fought for America during World War II are revered and treasured so much.
I saw it at age seven, and the impact on me was no different than on adults. We struck back at the sneaking enemy. We were on the road to revenge for Pearl Harbor. Aside from all that, here is what I think today. Cary Grant was the perfect hero for us. He was calm and determined. He was real. Then there was John Garfield who spoke for all of us when he branded Japan as a police state. Dane Clark was very good, if somewhat emotional And Charlie of the Angels, John Forsythe, made his debut and he too was good. There was some propaganda, but really not that much. The movie demonstrated the perfect resolve of the USA to destroy the "Japs" as we called them in wartime. It is still a good flick.
Here is a great small war movie propelled with the talents of star Cary Grant and a fine supporting cast to boot. Not a major classic by any means but a delight that stands up to repeat viewing. This film was made in the general spirit of great 40's films with it's action/comedy pacing, there's hardly a dull moment. The film feels true to the spirit of the times it was made as well, no false notes struck here. As a footnote, I've noticed a few earlier reviewers noted the presence of "The Skipper from Gilligans Island Alan Hale"...sorry, that's not so. That man is Alan Hale Sr, a very talented actor in his own right who's the FATHER of Alan Hale Jr of Gilligan's Island fame(It's a bit confusing because they both were known as "Alan Hale" and they both looked very similar.) Pick it up for cheap and add it to your collection, you'll be glad you did!
With all the stir over Bruckheimer and Bay's silly PEARL HARBOR action ride,
you might want to see some more realistic and gritty war films. Among them
should be the historical retelling of Pearl Harbor in TORA! TORA! TORA! and
the Doolittle raid in THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO.
The Doolittle raid would not have been possible without the scouting job of the submarine that snuck into Tokyo bay to guide the plains in over the city. This film gives a rousing account of that mission as well as a beautifully done propaganda job to keep the troops and folks back home energized during the war.
The film still stands up well as a genuine action adventure. Definitely a movie for those who enjoy great film.
I enjoyed the film. It was full of Amaerican propaganda, but it was produced when WWII was still being fought. I saw a in previous review, where a reader said that the movie stared Alan Hale, before he went on to Captain his own boat in Gilligan's Island. It's actually Alan Hale Sr. who's in Destination Tokyo, and Alan Hale Jr., who's in Gilligan's Island. Cary Grant does a good job as Captain, and I enjoyed the drama of Torpedoman Adams getting hit with an appendicitis while the sub is in Tokyo Bay. It also showed that people die during a war. The sub took quite a beating from depth-charges as well as discussing the fear that some men would have had. It was also interesting how they incorporated the Col. James Dolittle raid into the movie. It seemed a little more realistic than in Pearl Harbor. Overall, a pretty good movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS. An ur-submarine war movie from Warner Brothers. It has just
about everything you'd expect from the polished craft shop that WB was in
the 1930s and 1940s. That is to say, every cliche in the book, very nicely
buffed, and some of which had not yet become cliches.
The cast is workmanlike and no one disappoints. Cary Grant is a bit hard to swallow as some dude from Oklahoma City, but okay. Let's see. Among the rest of the crew, we have John Garfield as a wolf and a wise guy from New York. Then there is "Dakota," presumably from Dakota. The green new kid who looks too tall to be in such a cramped space, who endures some friendly hazing from the more experienced, and who eventually wins his spurs. There is the atheist who undergoes a religious conversion under stress. There is the avuncular older man who takes other crew members under his wing. An underappreciated comedic cook. The ubiquitous James Ridgely as an aerology officer. And, let me think, I believe that's all, except -- where the hell is the braggart from Texas??
Incidents. Very neatly drawn. The first suspenseful dive under threat of air attack. The taking aboard of a passenger in a fogbound Aleutian nook. The attack by (and destruction of) two Zero float planes. The unexploded bomb lodged in the superstructure that must be manually disarmed. The knife in the back by the treacherous Japanese pilot. The funeral at sea. The sneaking through the antisubmarine nets. The appendectomy performed by amateurs under primitive conditions on the bottom of Tokyo Bay. (Based on a true incident.) The landing party on the Japanese coast gathering information vital to the Doolittle raid, hunted by Japanese patrols. The B-25s taking off from the Hornet and Enterprise with the departing gumchewing crewmen waving cheerfully from the airplane windows. (No mention of their premature launch or the loss of every airplane.) The torpedoing of a Japanese carrier, accompanied by dialogue like, "Take her UNDER the carrier. We'll finish her with the sting from our tail!" The depth charge attack with the shattered chronometer and the water spurting from the burst pipes. The demolition of the pursuing destroyer with a "down the throat" shot. The triumphant return home with the wife and kiddies waiting on the dock at Mare Island.
It's fascinating to watch. The imagery itself, crude by today's standards, is gripping. And there is the colorful change of uniforms from dress whites on Sutter Street to dark sweaters, head covers, and watch caps in the landing party. Okay, the sub does look like a toy in some shots. And the Navy didn't want to release enough information about sonar equipment to make the scope look like anything other than an oscilloscope later sold to the producers of "Plan Nine From Outer Space." And maybe it's hard to believe that Cary Grant would daydream about his kid's first haircut while the submarine is about to implode on him. And, sure, some of the dialogue is plain silly. And nobody above the age of twelve would take a doll aboard the boat to play with. (Well, maybe they would at that.) And some slight problems with continuity: when the carrier is torpedoed from the bow, John Garfield is seen jumping gleefully and saying, "It was mine! It was mine!" And then, when the carrier gets a second dose from the stern tubes, we see Garfield again, guiding the fish into the tube.
None of that matters much, though. This is not a thought piece. It's craftsmanship, not art. You have to go with the flow on this one. If you want to see Garfield in a more realistic WB war effort, catch "Pride of the Marines" if you can. You won't forget that one. Well, you won't forget this one either, but for very different reasons.
There were a lot of war pictures made during WWII, though this one
stands out as being far better than average. Part of this is the
excellent acting and direction and part of this must be the result in
writing an unusual plot for a submarine movie. Instead of just blowing
up Japanese ships, the crew is ordered to sneak into Tokyo Bay. The
tension, as a result of this slow covert mission, is incredible. About
the only negative I can think of for the film is that there are more
shots of toy subs AND the sides of the back lot pool in it than usual.
Most sub films, if you look carefully, were filmed in these pools and
the sides of the pool can occasionally be seen. However, the number of
times you see the shot is fake is higher than normal, so it reduces my
FYI--try watching OPERATION PACIFIC (1951) after you see this film. In this sub movie, the crew trades movies with another sub crew so they can be entertained on their long missions. They trade a cowboy flick and are given DESTINATION TOKYO. Later, one of the crew members remarks that he liked the film, but it was REALLY SHORT ON REALISM!! That's funny, huh?!
Great propaganda film for WWII. However, can anyone really believe that Cary Grant is from Oklahoma City? Since the Doolittle raid was in April of 1942, the movie has to begin on Christmas day 1941 - a little less that three weeks after the US got into the war. But the Captain says that this is their 5th tour. Cookie says that the previous Christmas (1940) they spent getting depth charged. Unless they decided to get into the war before it was declared. By the way, the actor who played Cookie is not the Alan Hale who went on to become the Skipper in Gilligan's Island. Alan Hale died in 1950. The Skipper was his son, Alan Hale, jr.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is Cary Grant's only war effort. In it he proves he can do drama
very well. It must have been a change of pace for movie goers because
Grant had not done much drama as he was always being cast in light
I have watched the DVD version of this in the Cary Grant signature collection & the copy is very well made, like they found a pristine studio master to make it from. The supporting cast in this film is very solid. Unlike many war films, it takes time to develop dramatic story lines, & gives the actors more chance to act than many action films of the war era.
The films starts in San Francisco & has two sequences with the Golden Gate Bridge. While this is an action film where you have to wait for the action, it is worth the wait. As the mission is started on Christmas Eve, there is a little early holiday cheer thrown in for good measure.
While the technology in this is more primitive than later silent service films, the results are much more satisfying than some of the films made later. Definitely worth a look especially if you are a fan of Grant. Barrymore & Alan Hale Sr. are very well used in the film as well.
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