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The Fighting Seabees (1944)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  10 July 1944 (UK)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 2,193 users  
Reviews: 29 user | 16 critic

Construction workers in World War II in the Pacific are needed to build military sites, but the work is dangerous and they doubt the ability of the Navy to protect them. After a series of ... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) , 3 more credits »
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Title: The Fighting Seabees (1944)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Dennis O'Keefe ...
...
Eddie Powers
Leonid Kinskey ...
Johnny Novasky
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Sawyer Collins
Grant Withers ...
Whanger Spreckles
...
Ding Jacobs
Ben Welden ...
Yump Lumkin
William Forrest ...
Lt. Tom Kerrick
Addison Richards ...
Capt. Joyce
Jay Norris ...
Joe Brick
Duncan Renaldo ...
Construction Worker at Party
Edit

Storyline

Construction workers in World War II in the Pacific are needed to build military sites, but the work is dangerous and they doubt the ability of the Navy to protect them. After a series of attacks by the Japanese, something new is tried, Construction Battalions (CBs=Seabees). The new CBs have to both build and be ready to fight. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HARD-MUSCLED! SOFT-HEARTED! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 July 1944 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Donovan's Army  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

George Reeves was going to co-star alongside John Wayne, on loan from Paramount Pictures. However, before production began, Reeves was drafted into the army. Dennis O'Keefe replaced him. See more »

Goofs

In the final battle scene a clamshell bucket is seen picking up Japanese soldiers. There are legs (with feet visible) dangling from the bucket. In the next shot, the legs are replaced with tree trunks. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Into the Breach: 'Saving Private Ryan' (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Where Do You Work-a, John?
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Mortimer Weinberg and Charley Marks
Sung by those at the coming home party
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"We Build So That Others Can Fight"..........."We Fight For What We Build"
9 July 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Before writing this review I took a quick look at Wikipedia and the article they have on the Seabees. Despite the fanciful story that Borden Chase wrote here about how the service was founded, the Seabees were actually an idea already thought of by Admiral Ben Morreell the Chief of Navy Supply even before Pearl Harbor.

Unlike the war in Europe where the Allies would be looking to take an hold cities with facilities already there, like air fields for example, those planning the war in the Pacific knew that they would be starting from scratch. Airfields, fuel depots, etc. would have to be constructed on jungle islands in the Pacific. So the idea of a separate service for the construction trade was born.

Now that we know that the plot of The Fighting Seabees is so much hogwash, let me say that what the film does do very well is show the hazards of what the men in that service faced. Trying to build facilities at the same time as the enemy is firing on them. The scenario in this film is repeated many times over on the islands of the Pacific.

As to the story of this film, John Wayne reverses roles here. In most of his war films he's usually the professional military man, here he's the tough, but inpatient civilian who never seems to learn the value of military discipline. Of course being this is the Duke, he does redeem himself in the end in a spectacular manner.

A love triangle is tossed in here, rather unnecessarily in my opinion, a straightforward account of Seabee heroism would have been sufficient. Wayne and Navy Commander Dennis O'Keefe are both interested in war correspondent Susan Hayward. This was Hayward's second film with John Wayne, who along with Clark Gable, and Dean Martin, she once described as her three favorite leading men. Her big scene is when she's wounded and thinks she's cashing in, she declares her love for the Duke. Susan Hayward has always been a favorite of mine, but it's on the strength of her performances in her starring roles in the Fifties, not as the sex object in The Fighting Seabees.

The Fighting Seabees isn't one of the Duke's top 10 or even top 20, but it's a decent enough film to sit through even with the World War II heroic bravado that was obligatory at the time this was made. You even get to see John Wayne attempt the jitterbug. During that scene, the Duke looks mighty uncomfortable. He was never going to compete with Fred Astaire for roles.


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