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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>
The Funniest Service Comedy of WWII; Great Characters, Story
I rate William Brinkley's beautiful written and only slightly pretentious service comedy "Don't Go Near the Water" as the best satire to come out of WWII. There is nothing lightweight about his attempt here; he is writing from personal knowledge of this group of reporters about the hysteria, professionalism, patriotism, irresponsibility, hijinks and occasional hubris of the press who covered the War in the Pacific Theater-of-Operations. The head of the organization is a refugee from Wall Street, chrome-domed comedy genius Fred Clark, riding herd on a large group of bright, bored and nefarious group of minds who are looking to avoid duty or to do something that will shake up the world. Only two changes were made from the novel by Dorothy Kingsley's brilliant screenplay. One was to alter Max, the central character, from a big unattractive sort to handsome Glenn Ford; the other was to change the character played by Earl Holliman from a big handsome hunk to an ordinary- looking nice guy. One works; the other doesn't. But everything else, in my judgment, works like clockwork in this extremely memorable, funny and thought- filled narrative. Director Charles Walters kept the proceedings going professionally and well. The technical aspects of the movie are both good and usually so good they go unnoticed, because what matters in this story, I claim, is the characters and the actors who bring them to vibrant life. The storyline involved is simple. The correspondents get a Club built; Max handles one Farragut Jones, a foul-mouthed nightmare he helps create, by riding herd on him during personal appearances. He also baits Clark, his boos, and pursues a lovely island girl, played by Gia Scala, while facing five disruptions--an illicit liaison between an enlisted man and an officer, an obnoxious demanding journalist, a lovely female reporter who wants to see the shooting war up close, some visiting VIPs and Clark's interference in the challenge of building the Club which all upsets the dull daily routine of the newshawks. The large able cast is headed by Ford, Clark, Holliman, Anne Francis, A\Mary Wickes, Keenan Wynnn as the journalist, Eva Gabor as the female reporter, Mickey Shaughnessy as Farragut Jones, with Romney Brent as Scala's father, Jack Albertson and Charles Watts as the Representatives, Jeff Richards and Howard Smith. Bronislau Kaper supplied the music; the film produced a hit song. And when the atomic bomb is dropped on Japan, the film achieve a climax at a large bash, and a happy ending for Ford and Scala. The most hilarious and meaningful service comedy of which I have knowledge. its theme is really how men deal with responsibility, and everyone is memorable because the theme is so well- integrated with the War and its events. Kudos to William Brinkley for this absolute gem.
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