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Captain Rockwell Torrey and Commander Paul Eddington are part of the Navy's effort to recuperate from, and retaliate for, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Torrey is romantically involved with nurse Maggie Haynes, and also tries to restore his relationship with his estranged son, Jeremiah, a young Naval officer. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Though a film about US entry into World War II centering on the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, "In Harm's Way" has a 60's look and feel about it. The opening sequence with Barbara Bouchet as Liz Eddington salaciously dancing around teasing all the men and infuriating all the women is more a twist than a swing. The dress she wears is also more of a sack dress than the skirts fashionable in America in 1941. John Ford's 1945 "They Were Expendable," starring John Wayne, is a superior film overall and is closer to home since it was made during the war years. Still "In Harm's Way" has its moments and should be enjoyed, especially by the many fans of the Duke.
The story about Capt. Rockwell Torrey (Wayne) trying to get to know the son he has not seen since the boy was four nearly slips into maudlin sentimentality several times, but is yanked back to more refined cinema by director Otto Preminger. Ditto for the budding romances between Admiral Torrey and Maggie Haynes (Patricia Neal), and between the admiral's son, Jere (Brandon De Wilde) and Annalee (Jill Haworth). The battle scenes are exciting and well-staged. The ending is a bit much but still satisfactory. The acting by a Hollywood cast of major stars of the era is top notch all the way as is to be expected.
The screen play by Wendell Mayes from James Bassett's novel, "Harm's Way," is effective, telling the story of Admiral Rockwell Torrey's daring comeback following humiliation at Pearl Harbor. Torrey is sent to salvage a mess up by politically motivated Admiral Broderick (Dana Andrews), whose tactics are similar to General George B. McClellan's in the early days of the American Civil War and for like reasons. The assignment is in reality a backup operation to take pressure from the main assault by the Japanese on General Douglas MacArthur's forces in the Pacific. Against great odds, including one of the largest ships in the Japanese navy, Admiral Torrey and his fighting men, including several nurses, must persevere. Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz (Henry Fonda) personally places full confidence and support in Torrey. Along with the brutal fighting are the subplots involving the romances and father-son theme mentioned above.
John Wayne fans and war action fans should enjoy "In Harm's Way." I highly recommend "They Were Expendable" for those viewers who like this movie.
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