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The Fighting Seabees (1944)

Passed  -  Drama | Romance | War  -  10 July 1944 (UK)
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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 »



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

The Fighting Seabees (1944) on IMDb 6.5/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Dennis O'Keefe ...
Lt. Cmdr. Robert Yarrow
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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The thrilling story of America's supermen! (original poster) See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 July 1944 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Donovan's Army  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


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 »


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


Where Do You Work-a, John? (Push-a Push-a Push)
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

Why did you shoot him for? I was afraid that the fall might kill em!
12 February 2006 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

***SOME SPOILERS*** One of John Wayne's best WWII movies has him in charge of the first Seebee construction battalion in the Pacific building airfields and port facilities for the US Navy and Air Force as well as fighting off hundreds of wild eyed and charging Japanese soldiers.

Things at first didn't go too well from the men of the Wayde Donovan, John Wayne, Corps. Construction Company. Searving the US military in the Pacific their easy marks for Japanese snipers who pick off the unarmed construction workers. while the US Army and Marine Corps. are busy fighting the main Japanese forces on the many islands contested by in that theater of war.

Demanding to be armed and part of the US military, not contract workers, has Donovan's men incorporated into the Army. Donovan's Seebees are then sent fully armed to island X-214 to build a base for the US Navy to refuel it's war-ships. Right from the start Donovan doesn't have the discipline thats demanded of him and is men by engaging the enemy. When told by his superior Lt. Cmdr. Yarrow,Dennis O'Keefe, to stay in the barracks and, in what looks like an American version of a Bonzai charge, Donovan has almost his entire construction company wiped out by the invading Japanese forces! Donavon, now a Lt. Commander, also screws up an ambush that the US Army had set up to stop the Japanese. That resulted in his, and Yarrow's, girlfriend war corespondent Constence Chesley, Susan Hayward,to be gunned down but not killed by a wounded Japanese soldier.

Back in the states Donovan tries to make amends with the US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Yarrow and Constance over his bullheadedness on the battlefield that cost scores of US military and Seebee's lives. His relationship with Constance is handicapped by her also being in love with Wayde's commander Lt. Cmdr. Yarrow who, unlike Wayde,is a handsome and refined spit and polish Annapolis Navy man. Given a second chance to show his, and his Seebees, worth on the field of battle Wayde Donovan's construction battalion is sent ashore on island X-371. Not only to build a fuel depot and airfield but to defend if against a possible Japanese invasion of the island.

Rip roaring battle scenes, some of the best ever put on film without the benefit of computer enhancement, makes "The Fighting Seebees" stand out among the score of war movies released during WWII by the major Hollywood studios. In fact the film was released by Republic Pictures which only specialized in low budget B and C movies up until then.

Taking heavy casualties from Japanese fire Donovan decides, against orders, to take it, the fight, to em' and organizes another Banzai-like charge on the Japanese forces, which seems like a full division, that are invading island X-371. The US forces, Army & Marines, deafening the island are badly chopped up with Lt. Cmdr. Yarrow seriously wounded in the fighting and Donovan's Seebees are on the verge of being overrun by the fanatical Japanese troops.

Having nothing but earth-moving and construction equipment to fight off the hoards of highly motivated and heavily armed Japanese troops supported by tanks the Seebees still hold on to the fuel tanks that's desperately needed for the US Navy Task Force in the area. Donavan told by the wounded Lt. Cmdr. Yarrow that he'll see to it that's he's court-martial-ed if he survives this action takes matters into his own hands. With a steam shovel loaded with explosives Donovan drives it into one of the fuel tanks causing it to explode and smoke out and drive into the open the attacking Japanese troops, their then mowed down by the Seebees and US Army and Marines.

Donovan for his bravery got a medal, posthumously, not a court-martial at the end of the film, Let. Cmdr Yarrow gets the girl that both he and Donovan left behind Constance Chesely.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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