The new commander of a Navy Underwater Demolition Team--nicknamed "Frogmen"--must earn the respect of the men in his unit, who are still grieving over the death of their former commander and resentful of the new one.
World War II drama in which Richard Widmark, as Lt. Cmdr. John Lawrence, replaces the popular commanding officer of a group of underwater demolition divers. a crew of fiercely independent studs who hang their proverbial hats in Davy Jones' locker. The martinet Lawrence tightens the discipline of the unit, making him mucho unpopular with the macho frogmen. Finally, Lawrence proves himself as more than just a stuffed white shirt, showing he has the cojones to keep up with their peculiar brand of the jones, becoming one of the team by fearlessly defusing a live torpedo at the risk of his own life. Written by
Jon C. Hopwood
The Underwater Demolition Team the frogmen in the film belong to is UDT-4 (some members of the team wear utility jackets with artwork of a large number "4" and a shark on the back). The real UDT-4 in World War II saw combat in the invasions of Okinawa, Saipan, Guam, and the Philippines. Like the fictional Team in the film, the real UDT-4 had one of their boats hit and sunk by Japanese fire at Leyte, and left a sign on the beach at Guam to welcome the invading Marines. See more »
The triple-tank aqualungs used by the UDT frogmen during the film's climactic mission are incorrect for the WWII period. Although 'Jacques Cousteau', an officer in the French Navy, was working with experimental aqualungs near the end of WWII, U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Teams did not have them during the war. See more »
As would be the case with DESTINATION GOBI (1953), which I’ve just watched, this unusual war film about a specialized outfit also happens to be a starring vehicle for Richard Widmark (and, similarly, featured no prominent female roles). Fox were noted for the documentary-style approach to their films for the first few years of the post-war era; this was a typical example, mixing realistic detail (while the underwater photography in itself is well done, the film tends to drag during these sequences) with a number of established Hollywood conventions.
Widmark begins by rubbing his men the wrong way because of their devotion to his predecessor, with Dana Andrews as his chief antagonist (especially after the former opts to leave the latter behind during a reconnaissance operation). At one point, however, Andrews has to take over a mission when Widmark becomes indisposed (where the former’s lack of responsibility leads to serious injuries sustained by one of the men); eventually, the two acquire a mutual respect – which occurs when a torpedo fired at the ship by the enemy fails to explode and has to be delicately dismantled.
The latter sequence is one of four suspense/action set-pieces in the film: the others being the two underwater missions themselves and the trial run for the first operation mentioned above. The supporting cast is led by Gary Merrill (acting as, more or less, the voice of conscience) and Jeffrey Hunter (as a brash young member of the team); also appearing, in unbilled roles, are subsequent favorite character actors James Gregory and Jack Warden.
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