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I grew up with this film in the early 60's........ I remember it fondly
as a little kid. We had a beach house at Newport and I remember sitting
and watching it on more than one occasion.....It did something to me
that I can't put a paw on.
Columbia was strictly 2nd tier as studios went in those days but this one is obviously an "A" as the studio went.
It has a great cast, special effects that rivaled the "big boys" and an ambiance that few could equal......
Watching the gleam in Eddie G's eyes really makes it fly..He singlehandedly steals the show......He has the right amount of humor and pathos to really make this film stand out. It's really a pity that no one knows this film in this day and age.....The use of old sea chanteys in the score brings a wonderful ambiance to the atmosphere..
This film also has two (in my opinion) classic lines in it. When Edgar Buchanan is dancing with a goldigger at the USO, she says "sailor, I understand you've gotten a pay raise, what will you do with it?" To which Buchanan replies: "Oh some on booze, some on women and the rest foolishly...". The other gem is where Robinson confronts Glenn Ford and makes the comment: "Why I've wrung more seawater out of my socks than you've sailed over!"
What can I say kiddies, this is one of my favorites and I consider myself fortunate to have it on VHS so I can watch it any time I want to.......It was released by "Hollywood Movie Greats" on VHS in 1990..... Robert
Edward G. Robinson cast's off in a rousing wartime tale of an untried destroyer crew pitted against the Japanese, and against their own ship. Robinson plays a dedicated machinist in a downright heroic role (for a change), and shows that he could lift this fairly routine combat epic out of the dull-drums -- almost on his own. The special effects and action sequences are first rate by the standards of the day, and overall the film has a good pace to it. It has been a few years since I have seen Destroyer, but the thing I best remember is Robinson relating the story of John Paul Jones and the Bon Homme Richard to the disheartened crew. Its corny and obvious, but he is so earnest that you practically feel like jumping in there to help him out.
Edward G. Robinson is a retired Navy officer who works on building a new ship. He succeeds in gaining a berth when it is ready to sail but he finds he is a bit out of touch with the young crew. He experiences a few highs and lows and faces several challenges throughout. Very good performance with a few memorable scenes. I rated it a 7.
Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford star in Destroyer, a sentimental Navy
tale of two different generations of Navy men. Though the film's World
War II vintage somewhat dates it, the film is still good entertainment.
The film begins with news of the USS John Paul Jones being sunk in the Pacific. That news is particularly hard for retired Navy chief Edward G. Robinson who now makes a living building ships in the navy yard. He gets to build the new John Paul Jones and decides that he ought to serve on her.
But when he pulls some strings to get assigned to the JPJ II, someone gets displaced as the chief boatswain. That someone is Glenn Ford and that doesn't make for a harmonious ship. In addition Robinson's kind of behind the times in the newer improvements the US Navy has made since the last war.
Complicating things is Marguerite Chapman, Robinson's daughter who Ford falls for. That really makes things bad on shore and off.
Robinson's the show in this film. His portrayal of an old Navy fighting man who won't be beached in a second war is sentimental, but effective. His best moments are when he finally begins to win the crew's respect by telling them the story of the guy and the engagement that the guy fought for whom the ship is named after.
In fact the final duel between the USS John Paul Jones and a Japanese submarine has a lot of similarity between what happened with the Bonhomme Richard and the Serapis of the Royal Navy.
Rounding out a nice supporting cast are Regis Toomey, Edward Brophy, Edgar Buchanan, and Leo Gorcey who gives us a bit of New York street smarts for the ship.
Destroyer is a dated propaganda film from the World War II era, but still entertaining because of the two leads.
Others have commented about the fine cast, good acting and relative
action in this film. What many viewers and most or all of the
commenters so far may have missed is that the story and script for
"Destroyer" came from Frank "Spig" Wead. Wead had an illustrious Navy
career in WWI and later. He was one of the very first Navy fliers and
helped promote naval aviation. In 1926, he broke his neck when he fell
down the stairs in his family's new home. His surgery was successful,
but he had to walk with crutches or a cane the rest of his life. He
retired from the Navy and began writing books and screenplays. The
latter were mostly about the Navy and most were made into very good
When World War II broke out Wead was reactivated and helped with the planning and tactics involving naval aircraft in the Pacific. He went to sea and took part in several naval battles before finally retiring in early 1944. During the war and for several years after, he wrote the screenplays for a number of movies that Hollywood produced. Other big movies based on his books and screenplays include "Wings for Men" in 1931, "Test Pilot" in 1938, "The Citadel" in 1938, "Dive Bomber" in 1941, and "They Were Expendable" in 1945. Wead died at age 52 in 1947 after surgery. MGM produced a movie in 1957 about him, "The Wings of Eagles." John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara played Spig and his wife, Min.
Something about this movie, with the fact the Spig Wead wrote the story and screenplay, leads me to believe that there is a subtle message in it. The film came out toward the middle of the war, with two more years to go (although no one could know that at the time). And look at the plot. A new ship is taken out for trial runs and has so many things go wrong that it had to come back for repairs at least three times. We see rivets popping, seams leaking, pipes breaking, motors and other things blowing. As a viewer, I thought that the critics in the movie were right. The ship was a piece of junk in spite of Edward G. Robinson's pleas to the contrary. And, just think if that happened with all or many ships, it's a wonder we had a Navy afloat at all to do battle.
But that obviously wasn't the case as the Navy brass ordered the ship to do mail delivery duty because it was unfit for service in the combat fleet. So, this ship just happened to be a lemon, right? Now think back to the opening scenes where Robinson is a civilian working on the crew that is building this new ship. Remember the several instances when he calls different workers to task for cutting corners? He tells one welder that he can't "cold" weld along a seam. The worker says that he can do that, and Robinson says that it would leak and he urges the guy to do it right. We see a few other subtle little scenes like this. I remember thinking that if that's the way the war-time shipbuilding yards were all working, they were sure doing a lot to help the enemy sink our ships.
But the volume of records and evidence we have show that our wartime industries and workers took pride in doing their jobs right and well. They knew that the planes, and ships, and tanks, and weapons they were making were for the Americans and other fighting men who were defending freedom and our shores with their lives. They were their sons and brothers, husbands and fathers, uncles and cousins, and boy friends and neighbors. So, the workers took pride in what they did and in doing it right.
That's why I think Wead wrote a subtle message into the screenplay and Columbia kept it in the movie intentionally. It was a message to the home front workers about how important their jobs were and that they needed to do them well. The movie gave a picture of what could happen if the home front workers did sloppy work or cut corners. They would endanger the lives of many fellow Americans. They could cause the loss of ships, aircraft and battles.
If you doubt this, watch the movie again, and watch for those instances of shoddy or faulty workmanship that Robinson points out to his fellow workers. And then watch for the problems they have during their trial runs to get the ship battle ready. I'll just bet that the home front workers who saw this movie in 1943 were more than a little upset at what they saw. And if it had been up to them in real life, all those goldbrickers in the movie shipyard would have been canned.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not a bad little Columbia film from 1943; unheralded, but brisk and
EGR plays a retired naval officer now building ships during WW2. His old ship has been sunk and is being rebuilt. When it's done, he re-ups and gets assigned to the new incarnation of the USN destroyer, the John Paul Jones.
Through a connection, he aces out Glenn Ford from his position, though Ford is far more qualified and up-to-date in his naval knowledge.
EGR continues to irk everyone on the ship by riding them too hard and constantly babbling about the old JPJ. Finally, he strikes a fellow officer and is demoted and loses his position and must ask the re-instated Glenn Ford if he can even still serve on the JPJ. Ford doesn't like EGR, but says OK.
The ship has a couple of test shake out runs where many things go wrong and the ship is finally assigned mail duty instead of the much desired combat duty. Tired of EGR and embarrassed by the ship, many men request a transfer off the JPJ until EGR corners them all and tells them the history of JPJ the man and his ship's battle with a British ship. The men are riveted by the tale of the bravery of the man and his crew who, against all odds, defeat the British ship as their own ship burns and sinks before which JPJ had yelled his immortal line to the British when asked if he was surrendering - "I have not yet begun to fight".
The men stay on and find their ship in the middle of a battle with a Japanese submarine. The JPJ is torpedoed and is sinking and many of the man have abandoned ship as ordered. EGR asks permission to stay aboard to weld the damaged part of the ship....and they only have 2 hours before the Jap sub will surface and sink them for sure.
Can he do it?
Good male cast of characters- EGR Glenn Ford Edgar Buchanan Leo Gorcey Regis Toomey Edward Brophy Lloyd Bridges plus Marguerite Chapman as EGR's daughter.
Leo Gorcey gets a good quote at a dance as he asks a girl to dance with him - "Hey, squirrel. Wanna twirl?"
Edgar Buchanan at the same dance is asked by some woman what he will spend his paycheck on - 'Oh, I dunno. Some of it on beer. Some of it on women. The rest on something foolish, I guess'.
Robinson tells his shipmates about the British in the Revolutionary War - 'Don't let anyone kid you. Those Limeys could fight!'
And Leo Gorcey holds his own with EGR during the big JPJ story when EGR asks him to read the plaque that has the immortal line on it and Gorcey doesn't need to read it now and stares right up at the camera and EGR and quotes - "I have not yet begun to fight".
Some good special effects in the film and snappy dialog. Well worth viewing.
DESTROYER was issued on GOODTIMES HOME VIDEO in the 90s and wasn't easy to find then.
Enjoyable WWII film about an aging sailor (Edward G. Robinson) coming into conflict with a young rival (Glenn Ford). It's all pretty by-the-numbers but some first-rate casting elevates it. Robinson excelled in playing parts like this. He brings a dignity and human touch to it that a lot of other actors wouldn't. Ford is great as well. This is young Glenn Ford before he developed his signature style where he always looked like he was ready to blow his top. There's good support from the likes of Edgar Buchanan, Regis Toomey, the very pretty Marguerite Chapman, and the always likable & funny Leo Gorcey. I'm sure people who are fans of these types of movies will enjoy it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The USS John Paul Jones we see being built is actually the destroyer
Hobby, launched in San Pedro in June, 1942. Not that it would matter to
Edward G. Robinson. He was the retired Chief Boatswain who was one of
the welders at the shipyard, reenlisted, and was assigned to the Jones,
proud of "his" ship.
This is a cornball, flag-waving tribute to destroyers, and it's enjoyable for what it is. The original story is by Frank Wead, who knew something about the Navy, and many of the details of boot camp and shipboard life are precisely captured. The pace becomes Dead Slow when Robinson's pretty daughter falls for Glen Ford and a mercifully brief courtship is carried on.
Once all of the characters that we've been introduced to are aboard the Jones, including the wisecracking Ford, as Robinson's main rival for senior enlisted man, the story gets down to business. On the shakedown cruise, just after commissioning, the John Paul Jones practically falls apart, piece by piece. The gunnery is way off because old-fashioned blustering Robinson has forgotten about leading the target. But more important, the engineering pops a dozen assorted corks and returns to San Diego several times for repairs.
The frustration mounts at both high levels and low. Enough is enough. The Jones is kept out of battles and assigned to mail-carrying duty in the Northwest. The men mope before collectively writing requests for transfer, salivating as they are over the prospect of getting into the fight. They decide to stick it out after listening to a rousing pep talk from Robinson. And, mail or no mail, the Jones is attacked by half a dozen "Mitsubishis" (Douglas SBDs and one anomalous TBM Avenger.) All the attacking airplanes are destroyed but the Jones is torpedoed, strafed, and kamikazed. So badly, in fact, that seawater reaches the boilers, the ship lists badly, and may capsize at any moment. The crew abandon the ship except for a small damage control party led by Robinson, which manages to restore power and ram a Japanese submarine that has been tracking them. The damage and repair is unusual in its molecularity. Damage control is ordinarily an unglamorous business, as is most stuff below decks, but here we can follow the progress of the men, and it's interesting. Where else can you see a boiler extinguished by a rush of sea water? Usually these technical details are avoided by having an officer run to the bridge, salute, and report breathlessly, "Captain, we've lost power on all engines." The snipes deserve a little attention.
The ship is celebrated in the press. Ford marries the girl, Robinson is satisfied that the ship is now the proud vessel he always considered her and he retires to the beach.
Well, it's improbable and old-fashioned but it's accurate enough in its observance of ritual that it brought back embarrassing memories of my years in the Coast Guard. The first night in boot camp, the men are exhausted and homesick. Seiter's camera rolls slowly between the bunks neatly aligned, with two seabags hanging from each frame. (I'm back in boot camp, getting gigged for not tying the seabag's knot properly.) And the cocky chief boatswain's mate Robinson emerges from a building and chews out two sailors lounging on the staircase -- one for "thinking" what he ought to "know" (I'm standing guard at the Air Station at San Francisco International Airport being excoriated over the phone) and the other for wearing his cap on the back of his head ("Adjust your cover", commands the Marine at the entrance to Hunter's Point).
The ending is touching in its sentiment, although it's still hackneyed. If you enjoyed the scene of John Wayne's (Spig Wead's) departure from the carrier at the end of "Wings of Eagles," you'll find this scene somewhat touching too.
First Rate for the period. A good patriotic Navy film, in the class with "Men of Honor" and Top Gun. Great depiction of sailors,Ships and the sea. As a U.S. Navy Veteran and "Tin-can-Sailor" an affectionate term for "Destroyer" Sailors, this shows the connection of the men and the Ship. The personality and the Valor of the Ship and her namesake and the men that make HER sail. To the sailor she is more than just steel that floats, she is Life; one lives, eats and sleeps the ship. If she don't float, we die. She takes us in harm's way and if we do it right, she brings us home. Home is the sailor, home from the sea. "Well done "Boli."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Join the navy, see the world, or in the case of the crew of the John
Paul Jones II, join the navy and deliver the mail. The fact that this
battle ship was meant to see action and simply ended up playing Mr.
Postman has upset its commander (Regis Toomey) and his two rival
assistants (Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford) who differ in how the
ship should be run. Robinson's a grizzled old fool who helped build the
ship, having served on the original John Paul Jones and aided Toomey in
going off to officer's school. He thinks he's entitled, pretty much
like an old dog who refuses to learn new tricks, but unbeknownst to
him, Ford has fallen in love with Robinson's pretty daughter
In actuality, their rivalry is really light-hearted, causing an almost comedic relationship between the two which just needs to come to some sort of compromise. Three quarters of the film is done as a comedy, almost inappropriately, between their not so serious rivalry and the presence of two portly crew members, Edgar Buchannan and Edward Brophy. Then, there's Leo Gorcey, pretty much playing his "Bowery Boys" character, given a question by a navy psychiatrist pre-dating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", inquiring whether or not he likes girls. The comic element of the film is somewhat inappropriate, so when the film switches gears for a confrontation with Japananese planes attacking them, the mood swing seems very severe in spite of being extremely well filmed.
With tons of films on the importance of the military during World War II having already been done (and many much better), this one is a slight disappointment because of the way it deals with its subject matter. It's not a complete, disaster, however, because it does provide enough entertainment and some patriotic flag-waving to stir up the hearts and minds of the war era movie going public. Robinson would have better war films, however, with the following year's "Tampico" and the light-hearted "Mr. Winkle Goes to War" which you knew just from the title alone was going to be a comedy with a patriotic twist.
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