IMDb > Stand by for Action (1942)

Stand by for Action (1942) More at IMDbPro »

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Laurence Kirk (suggested by a story by)
Harvey S. Haislip (original story) ...
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Release Date:
14 February 1944 (Sweden) See more »
U. S. Navy Lieutenant Gregg Masterman (Robert Taylor), of THE Harvard and Boston Back Bay Mastermans... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
STAND BY FOR ACTION (Robert Z. Leonard, 1942) **1/2 See more (18 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Robert Taylor ... Lieut. Gregg Masterman

Charles Laughton ... Rear Admiral Stephen Thomas

Brian Donlevy ... Lieut. Cmdr. Martin J. Roberts

Walter Brennan ... Chief Yeoman Henry Johnson
Marilyn Maxwell ... Audrey Carr
Henry O'Neill ... Cmdr. Stone M.C
Marta Linden ... Mary Collins

Chill Wills ... Chief Boatswain's Mate Jenks

Douglass Dumbrille ... Captain Ludlow
Richard Quine ... Ensign Lindsay
William Tannen ... Flag Lieut. Dudley

Douglas Fowley ... Ensign Martin
Tim Ryan ... Lieut. Tim Ryan
Dick Simmons ... Lieut. (jg) Royce
Byron Foulger ... Pharmacist's Mate 'Doc' Miller
Hobart Cavanaugh ... Carpenter's Mate 'Chips'
Inez Cooper ... Susan Garrison
Ben Welden ... Chief Quartermaster Rankin
Harry Fleischmann ... Chief Signalman
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ernie Alexander ... Sailor in Boat (uncredited)
Will Armstrong ... Sailor (uncredited)

Billy Bletcher ... Sailor (uncredited)
Wally Cassell ... Talker (uncredited)

Jim Davis ... Talker (uncredited)
Jay Eaton ... Party Guest (uncredited)
Calvin Emery ... Lookout (uncredited)
Frank Hagney ... Sailor (uncredited)
Sam Harris ... Senator at Party (uncredited)
Oscar 'Dutch' Hendrian ... Sailor (uncredited)
Robert Kent ... Hank Nels (uncredited)
Hal Le Sueur ... Lookout (uncredited)

Frank McClure ... Ship Officer (uncredited)
Ralph McCullough ... Sailor in Boat (uncredited)
James Millican ... Talker (uncredited)
Bea Nigro ... Senator's Wife (uncredited)
Spec O'Donnell ... Jason (uncredited)

'Snub' Pollard ... Sailor (uncredited)
William Roberts ... Marine Messenger (uncredited)
Elizabeth Russell ... Expectant Mother (uncredited)
Theodore von Eltz ... 'Commander' (uncredited)
Pat West ... Sailor (uncredited)
Frank Whitbeck ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)
Harry Wilson ... Sailor (uncredited)
Douglas Wood ... Sen. Masterman (uncredited)
Duke York ... Sailor (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Z. Leonard 
Writing credits
Laurence Kirk (suggested by a story by)

Harvey S. Haislip (original story) (as Captain Harvey Haislip) and
R.C. Sherriff (original story)

George Bruce (screenplay) &
John L. Balderston (screenplay) and
Herman J. Mankiewicz (screenplay)

Produced by
Orville O. Dull .... producer
Robert Z. Leonard .... producer
Original Music by
Lennie Hayton 
Cinematography by
Charles Rosher (director of photography)
Film Editing by
George Boemler 
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
Set Decoration by
Edwin B. Willis 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Robert A. Golden .... assistant director (uncredited)
Horace Hough .... assistant director (uncredited)
Sandy Roth .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Edward G. Boyle .... associate set decorator
Urie McCleary .... associate art director
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Michael Steinore .... sound effects (uncredited)
Special Effects by
A. Arnold Gillespie .... special effects (as Arnold Gillespie)
Donald Jahraus .... special effects (as Don Jahraus)
Visual Effects by
Max Fabian .... special photographic effects (uncredited)
Music Department
Wally Heglin .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Leonid Raab .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
H.D. Smith .... technical advisor (as Lieut. Comdr. H.D. Smith USN)
Wallace Worsley Jr. .... location script clerk (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
109 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Finland:S | Sweden:15 | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #8801) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

The world premiere on 31 December 1942 took place simultaneously in 7 US cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Providence, Rhode Island; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Illinois; Norfolk, Virginia; San Diego, California and San Francisco, California. Some earlier screenings may have taken place for naval officers on Treasure Island, California and Mare Island, California.See more »
Factual errors: Members of the cast almost always say, "Yes, sir," in response to orders, etc.; Naval personnel say, "Aye, aye, sir."See more »
Movie Connections:
The Oceana RollSee more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
STAND BY FOR ACTION (Robert Z. Leonard, 1942) **1/2, 28 October 2010
Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta

This was another film which saw preliminary involvement in its scripting stage from Luis Bunuel during the Spanish Surrealist's tenure in Hollywood – before being eventually re-vamped into a standard Hollywood flagwaver (by its blandest studio, MGM, no less). Needless to say, there remains close to nothing of what may have appealed to Bunuel's Communist ideals here; however, given the top talent at work, the movie could not fail to be entertaining (if corny and contrived in the extreme – more on this later); still, the film hardly merited Leonard Maltin's hilariously dismissive single remark in response to the titular command, "We're still waiting…"

In fact, the story and script numbered various noted scribes: John L. Balderston, George Bruce, R.C. Sheriff – all of them, co-incidentally, former collaborators of another of my favorite film-makers i.e. James Whale – and Herman J. Mankiewicz (ditto Orson Welles' CITIZEN KANE [1941]); as for the cast, we have Robert Taylor (stepping in for Robert Donat), Charles Laughton (this phase of his career was particularly unrewarding for the thespian actor, though he would return to this same milieu for one of his very last pictures, UNDER TEN FLAGS [1960]), Brian Donlevy, Walter Brennan, Chill Wills, Douglas Dumbrille, future director Richard Quine, etc. Most of these are strictly typecast, but get by through sheer professionalism and chemistry: the three stars play well off each other, with Taylor the cocky spoiled brat, Laughton the flustered-yet-bemused chief officer and Donlevy the dedicated skipper of an ancient destroyer re-called into active service at the start of WWII (complete with live-in and doting caretaker – Brennan, of course).

Though the film makes much of the initial friction between the captain and his aide, which predictably develops into mutual understanding and, eventually, respect, its real raison d'etre was the subplot highlighting the destroyer saving 'a cargo of innocence' (the title of the story on which it was based and which had originally dealt with the Spanish Civil War!), that is to say, a stranded boat filled with evacuees from a bombed maternal hospital. This results in much cringe-inducing comedy relief – Bunuel would have obviously treated the entire episode much more soberly – with the men all at sea (pun intended) before this unexpected 'crisis'…though, before long, a middle-aged carpenter whose wife happens to be a nurse and guitar-strumming, tune-peddling yokel Chill Wills take the situation firmly in hand; Laughton, commandeering a convoy to which the destroyer has also been appointed (not without misgivings), ultimately softens at this turn-of-events, especially after both rescued ladies proceed to give birth themselves aboard the ship!

As I said, in the face of such far-fetched happenings, to which one must add Brennan's equally sentimental attachment to the "old girl" who can still "take it" (injured at one point and relapsing to his WWI-service days, he still resolves to do his bit for Uncle Sam at the finale!), the film really does not win any marks for realism but, again, is so typical of the prevalent style in which such things were presented (including such racist expressions as Laughton's "slant-eyed Beelzebub" and "pagoda-masted buzzards") that it does not feel necessarily blander than its prototype, if decidedly routine. Nevertheless, the climactic action (yes, we do get there after all) – as the scrappy destroyer risks its 'life' (with Taylor at the helm, too, since Donlevy is himself temporarily disabled) by emerging from the cover of pervasive fog to hit out at the larger Japanese battleship – is quite well done, even garnering the film its sole Oscar nomination.

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