A semi-documentary dramatization of five weeks in the life of Vice Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, Jr., from his assignment to command the U.S. naval operations in the South Pacific to the Allied victory at Guadalcanal.
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The Gallant Hours depicts the crucial five-week period in October-November 1942 after Admiral Halsey took command of the beleaguered American forces in the South Pacific Area. That period of combat became a turning point in the struggle against the Japanese Empire during the World War II. The story is told in flashback, framed by Halsey's ceremony of going on inactive duty in 1947. Written by
Rear Admirals Scott and Callaghan were both killed in action in the naval battle of Guadalcanal. Admiral Halsey, who received a promotion, asked that his stars be given to the widows of the two men because, he said, their actions earned him that promotion. Halsey could not have known it at the time, but Admiral Scott was killed in a friendly fire incident aboard the USS Atlanta when it was accidentally fired upon by the USS San Francisco. See more »
The timeline is convoluted. Events are compressed by many months, such as the Yamamoto interception (April 43) overlapping the naval battle of Guadalcanal (November 42.) See more »
A war film without action makes this picture almost unique. The message is that wars are fought with character as much as gun fire. Cagney's performance is subtle and deeply felt. One scene in particular in the final half hour should be watched carefully: a 45-second shot of Cagney sitting at his desk with a cup of coffee as the consequences of his decision run through his mind in the form of off-screen battle sounds. The camera patiently draws in on his face, as his expression grown more grim. Cagney's expression and eyes have a power that burns through the screen like a magnificent still life summing up the enormous responsibility of command. Also, the choral music throughout adds a great weight and sense of secular reverence to the tone of the film. In a way, "Gallant Hours" is comparable to "Command Decision," in that it takes us, as one other viewer put it, behind the scenes of battle.
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