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Submarine commander Ken White is forced to suddenly submerge, leaving his captain and another crew member to die outside the sub during WW II. Subsequent years of meaningless navy ground assignments and the animosity of a former sailor, leave White (now a captain) feeling guilty and empty. His life spirals downward and his wife is about to leave him. Suddenly, he is forced into a dangerous rescue situation at the start of the Koren War.... reassigned to the same submarine where all of his problems began. Written by
The problem that Submarine Command had from the start is that it came out in the same year as Operation Pacific which had similar plot situations. It might be better known today if that were not the case. As it is it's not a bad action adventure film and no disgrace to its star William Holden or any of the supporting cast.
When I reviewed Operation Pacific I said that I like submarine films, but inevitably the same situations and clichés follow into each film. In this case William Holden was a newly assigned Executive Officer to the USS Tiger Shark and he was a recent Annapolis graduate who had just done a few shakedown cruises and had never seen any real combat. And it's the summer of 1945.
In action Holden like John Wayne in Operation Pacific is forced to leave his wounded captain, John Gregson on top and dive the submarine and take command. This gains the enmity of CPO William Bendix who was devoted to captain Gregson. Wouldn't you know it, the day this happens, Holden's only experience under fire during World War II is the day the Japanese surrender and news of it comes when the Japanese suddenly break off an engagement with the Tiger Shark.
Unlike the Duke who got an opportunity in this war to redeem himself in a few eyes, Holden had to wait until Korea for his chance. In the meantime he marries Nancy Olson. Submarine Command was their fourth and final film together, the two had been teamed for Sunset Boulevard, Union Station, Force Of Arms, and now Submarine Command. Three good films and one classic isn't a bad record. Olson seemed to be Paramount's answer to MGM's June Allyson in those good girl next door roles. She and Holden clicked very well on screen.
Of course the incomparable William Bendix is here as well. That man never gave a bad performance in anything he was in. He and Holden worked together at Paramount in Blaze At Noon and Streets Of Laredo. They would not be teamed again as well.
Although I liked Operation Pacific better, Submarine Command is a fine film on its own that just suffered from bad timing. Fans of William Holden will like it.
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