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The Fighting Seabees (1944)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 10 July 1944 (UK)
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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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) (as Aeneas MacKenzie) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Eddie Powers
Leonid Kinskey ...
Johnny Novasky
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Sawyer Collins
...
Whanger Spreckles
...
Ding Jacobs
...
Yump Lumkin
William Forrest ...
Lt. Tom Kerrick
Addison Richards ...
Capt. Joyce
Jay Norris ...
Joe Brick
...
Construction Worker at Party
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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:

The thrilling story of America's supermen! (original poster) 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:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Roy Barcroft, a Republic stalwart, appears in this film as one of the Seabees. No effort was made to give him a "character" name, they simply referred to him using his real name, "Barcroft". See more »

Goofs

In the first landing by Japanese the landing craft are U.S.N. LCVPs, which are distinctly different than any landing craft used by the Japanese. Also, there are no ships offshore from which the landing craft could have come. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Powers: I'm Eddie Powers, Donovan's factotum, meaning, "Man Friday". That's Latin.
Lt. Cmdr. Robert Yarrow: Well, I'm glad to know you Friday even if it's only Thursday.
See more »

Connections

Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

Ireland Must Be Heaven, for My Mother Came from There
(uncredited)
Music by Fred Fisher
Lyrics by Howard Johnson and Joseph McCarthy
Sung by William Frawley
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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