This movie was the first and only time that former American President and actor Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy Davis (aka Nancy Reagan) star-teamed and made a movie together. The couple however did appear frequently together in television episodes of G.E. True Theater. Technically speaking though, in this movie, Reagan actually received top billing and Nancy second-billing. As the couple have become more famous through time, the perception of their billing has been equalized due to their presidential married status.
This movie has a great introduction by Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz who directly addresses the audience in this movie's prologue. Not often seen speaking in public, Navy buffs will enjoy seeing the Admiral introduce this film. He talks for about two minutes, explaining how he approved the orders for this real life event in World War II. As Commander of the American Fleet in the Pacific region, Nimitz authorized the plan to break the supply chain between the Asian mainland and Japan. The Hellcat submarines were critical to the US Navy achieving this strategy. Nimitz said of this mission: "This is the story of one of the most daring operations in the history of Navy warfare!" According to the 'Hollywood Reporter' of December 1956, the Chester W. Nimitz footage for this movie was filmed in Berkeley, California in late December 1956 and early January 1957. In an uncredited part, Selmer Jackson portrays Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in the rest of this movie outside of the introduction.
The co-author for the screenplay was credited to Raymond T. Marcus, who was in fact blacklisted writer Bernard Gordon. Ironically, the movie starred Ronald Reagan who was more-or-less a proponent of the blacklist.
This movie's written prologue and dedication seen during the opening credits states: "We wish to express our appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy for the full cooperation extended to us in the production of this film. To the officers and the men who served aboard the Hellcat submarines during World War II this picture is dedicated."
As declared by the 'Hollywood Reporter' of 4-6 August 2000, the screen-writing credit of Raymond T. Marcus for this film is actually an alias for blacklisted scriptwriter Bernard Gordon. Gordon once said that he thought that it was ironic that he could not put his name to the script due to a blacklist that the actual movie's star Ronald Reagan denied ever existed (to Joseph Alsop in 1980).
The 'Los Angeles Times' in June 1956 reported that Edmund H. North worked on this movie's screenplay but as he is not billed as being a writer in the credits for this picture it is not known the extent to which his work may have been included in the final shooting script.
The name Hellcats of this movie's title refers to the US Navy vessels which took part in Operation Barney and traveled through the mine-ridden waters that lead to the Sea of Japan. The Hellcats term is derived from the US Navy's slang word for mines belonging to the Imperial Japanese Navy: Hell Pots.
The name of the Hellcat submarine in this movie that Ronald Reagan commands was the USS Starfish aka The Starfish. This was a fictional name and not the name of a real World War II US Navy Hellcat submarine. However, the type of name was in keeping with the style of fish and marine-like names of the real Hellcat submarines of the Second World War which were named as follows: SS 411 USS Spadefish; SS 401 USS Sea Dog; SS 291 USS Crevalle; SS 302 USS Skate; SS 282 USS Tunny; SS 283 USS Tinosa; SS 229 USS Flying Fish; SS 287 USS Bowfin; and SS 223 USS Bonefish.