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Edward G. Robinson
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Flagwaving story of a new American destroyer, the JOHN PAUL JONES, from the day her keel is laid, to what was very nearly her last voyage. Among the crew, is Steve Boleslavski, a shipyard welder that helped build her, who reenlists, with his old rank of Chief boatswain's mate. After failing her sea trials, she is assigned to the mail run, until caught up in a disparate battle with a Japanese sub. After getting torpedoed, and on the verge of sinking, the Captain, and crew hatch a plan to try and save the ship, and destroy the sub. Written by
The railings around the deck of destroyers, or any warship, are not made of sheet metal as shown in this film. The railings that surround the deck are made up of posts and cables. This allows water to quickly leave the deck. See more »
Sighted schooners, sank same.
[Said after confiscating two tallboy beer cans in the engine room]
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Opening credits prologue:
Destroyers --"Tin Cans" as they are affectionately called by those who man them -- are the busybodies of the Fleet.
Always looking for trouble -- generally finding it.
Proud little ships because they bear the names of great heroes of the Service and keep alive the fighting traditions of our Navy. See more »
A bit formulaic and schmaltzy, but exceptional nevertheless.
"Destroyer" is a clearly a wartime propaganda film meant to encourage the troops and folks at home in the war effort. It also is a bit formulaic at the same time--with the familiar theme of the obnoxious braggart falling on his face and then redeeming himself by the end of the film. And, the film stars a way too old Edward G. Robinson (50 at the time) in the lead. Yet, despite these hits against it, the film works exceptionally well and is well worth your time.
The film begins with learning that the old destroyer, the USS John Paul Jones, being sunk in action. Soon after, they order a replacement--a new John Paul Jones. At the shipyard, you see an old worker, Steve Boleslavski (Robinson) rallying the men and encouraging them to build the best fighting ship. After all, he served on the old John Paul Jones and plans on going back to active duty and serving aboard the new one if he can.
So, Steve and his buddy 'Kansas' (Edgar Buchanan) sign up with the Navy (apparently they must have just begun the new 'geezer brigade'). And, after pushing the Commander of the ship (Regis Toomey), he's able to secure a spot aboard as the Chief.
Now you'd think everything would go smoothly, but it doesn't. First, Steve is so gung ho and pig-headed that he manages to alienate himself from the crew. His talk of 'my ship' all the time and talk about the old days certainly didn't help. Second, the ship seems almost cursed--and during two shakedown cruises, it's riddled with problems. Eventually, the Navy is so sick of the repeated failures that the ship is given the ignominious task of delivering mail--not fighting. The crew, not surprisingly, is dispirited--after all, a destroyer should not be kept out of the action.
During their time as a mail carrier, the ship is kept out of the action. However, the Japanese are sneaky and the attack ends up pulling the John Paul Jones into action anyway. Unfortunately, although the ship is able to fight off a squadron of Japanese planes, she's badly damaged in the process--listing and seemingly ready to go down during her first engagement with the enemy. When a sub is discovered nearby AND the engines go out, it looks like that's all she wrote for the ship. Can Steve and the crew manage to redeem themselves and the ship? Considering this was made during WWII, what would you think? The film works for two big reasons. The acting is very good and they manage to make the most of the material. And, more importantly, the film is action-packed and exciting. The final 15 minutes of the film were very well done (even if the Japanese planes were really American ones painted to look Japanese) and really leave the viewer breathless and excited. Well worth your time.
By the way, in addition to seeing Glenn Ford in a major role, Lloyd Bridges (well before he became a star) can be seen VERY briefly. For example, he's lying in a bunk during a scene where the crewmen are talking about the ship becoming a mail ship. Look sharply or you'll miss him!
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