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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Eva Marie Saint,
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On a small island in the South Pacific, the Navy's P.R. department is spending WWII without getting near a ship. Lt. Max Siegal is the Second in command to a clueless Commanding Officer who believes Sea Duty to be the worst punishment he can give one of his men. Siegal has to keep the foreign correspondents happy, keep his Commander out of trouble and figure out a way for one of the enlisted sailors to date the lady Lieutenant of his dreams - all while convincing a certain island schoolteacher that he's the man for her. Written by
April M. Cheek <Aravis2713@aol.com>
During the sequence where they're building the recreation hall, one of the guys taking part in the construction is seen wearing a Milwaukee Braves baseball cap. The Braves didn't move from Boston to Milwaukee until 1953. See more »
Don't Go Near The Water is a film about those under-appreciated men of the second World War, those who served way in the rear echelon in the Navy's publicity department. They too, sacrificed and served their country in most unusual ways.
Hero of this piece and perfectly cast because of his gift for dead pan comedy timing is Glenn Ford, playing a Mister Roberts like officer assigned to the unit headed by Fred Clark. Actually Ford's a Roberts in reverse, he's already had his sea duty and now is assigned to this backwater of the war. He and Russ Tamblyn would like to get into action because it is in combat that promotions can be quickly earned. Not to mention they'd like to serve their country.
Now Clark's perfectly content where he is. He was a former advertising man in civilian life, so the Navy publicity unit is a perfect fit for him. He's even got far more leverage in 'disciplining' the men under his command. But he can be played and Ford does so like a piccolo.
Don't Go Near The Water has no real plot except for Ford's yeoman Earl Holliman falling for one of the Navy nurses, Anne Francis, and stealing her away from wolfish officer Jeff Richards. That's a romance that Ford's helping in every way he can despite those no fraternization policies between enlisted men and officers.
The film is a series of comic vignettes as the unit tries to deal with several non-military and military situations like a hero sailor played by Mickey Shaughnessy who can't control his language. I found that extremely true to life because back in those brief days when I was a weekend warrior, I remember those Anglo-Saxon expletives coming out just as frequently as they do from Shaughnessy. Still it won't do to have him on a bond tour with that coming out of him all the time, so Ford has the unenviable duty of cleaning his act up.
Ford's also taking time to romance island school teacher Gia Scala and he enlists her help in blackmailing an obnoxious war correspondent to help with building a new school house with the money he flashes around from his publisher. The correspondent is Keenan Wynn who thinks that Ensign Russ Tamblyn is his personal valet. No wonder Tamblyn wants to get to active duty.
And then there's the glamorous Eva Gabor who is a female correspondent who's been assigned to a forward area to cover the impending battle for Okinawa. As if Admiral Howard Smith hasn't enough troubles. He already has a low opinion of Clark and his outfit as a bunch of goldbrickers.
All in all it's a pretty funny service comedy and holds up well after over 50 years.
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