In Harm's Way (1965)

Approved  |   |  Drama, War  |  6 April 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,956 users  
Reviews: 103 user | 16 critic

A naval officer reprimanded after Pearl Harbor is later promoted to rear admiral and gets a second chance to prove himself against the Japanese.



(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ensign Jeremiah 'Jere' Torrey
Admiral 'Blackjack' Broderick
C.P.O Culpepper


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Stripped of everything - they lived and loved and fought as if there were no tomorrow...


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 April 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Erster Sieg  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm prints)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Kirk Douglas felt the battle at the end of the movie was ruined by the use of very obvious models. See more »


When Torrey and Eddington are coming from the brig they look at a cruiser leaving "to join Halsey". What is shown is a poor model of a Baltimore class heavy cruiser (some secondary gun mounts and the foremast are missing). The Baltimore class did not enter service until 1943, so could not be leaving Pearl Harbor soon after the attack. See more »


[the Cassiday has just sunk the Japanese sub that torpedoed Torrey's cruiser]
Captain Rockwell Torrey: Nice work, Harding! You did a 4-0 job on that sub!
LTJG 'Mac' McConnel: Thank you, sir, I'm not Commander Harding, sir.
Captain Rockwell Torrey: Well, where is he?
LTJG 'Mac' McConnel: Ashore, sir!
Captain Rockwell Torrey: Well, who's in command?
LTJG 'Mac' McConnel: I am, sir! Lt. j.g. McConnell, sir!
Captain Rockwell Torrey: Did I hear Lieutenant junior grade?
LTJG 'Mac' McConnel: William McConnell; Class of '38, sir!
Captain Rockwell Torrey: Oh. Well, can you rig for towing?
See more »


Featured in The Making of a Movie (1965) See more »


Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree
Written by Charles Tobias, Lew Brown, and Sam H. Stept
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User Reviews

"a mother lovin' gut busting navy war."
17 November 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

I've always felt that in these big budget all star epics, the trick is to give each of the star a role of substance as small as the part might be sometimes. That's one of the best things about In Harm's Way, Otto Preminger cast this film with a whole lot of big movie names and each one of them made their presence felt.

Case in point the three admirals played by Franchot Tone, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda. All three are very different type men. Tone is a man knowing he'll be sitting the war out because it was on his watch that the Pearl Harbor attack occurred. He's not bitter, he knows that's how things work in the navy. Dana Andrews is a publicity conscious admiral who employs the unctuous Patrick O'Neal in that regard. Henry Fonda plays the second commander in chief of the Pacific, Chester Nimitz in all but name. Oddly enough Fonda would play Nimitz again and by name in the film Midway a decade later. All three of these men make a deep impression on the audience despite having limited roles.

I'm sure that when Otto Preminger was casting In Harm's Way he must have seen Operation Pacific and saw the easy chemistry that John Wayne and Patricia Neal had 14 years earlier. Playing older and wiser versions of themselves from the previous film, Wayne and Neal show love ain't just for the young.

In Harm's Way has the Duke as a father figure for the first time. As Rockwell Torrey, the rock of ages as Kirk Douglas calls him, in addition to the Pacific War he takes on a whole lot of people's problems and they look to him for advice and comfort. In addition to his biological son Brandon DeWilde, the Duke also deals with Kirk Douglas and his problem concerning his tramp of a wife and the problems of young Lieutenant j.g. Tom Tryon and his wife Paula Prentiss.

One of my favorite John Wayne scenes is with Prentiss as he brings her the news about Tryon being missing in action. It is so well done from both players I'm still moved after having seen In Harm's Way a dozen times or more.

Acting honors however may go to Kirk Douglas as Wayne's chief aide who has the most complex role in the film. Douglas runs the gamut of emotions as he does in so many of his roles, from naval hero to maniacal rapist. Douglas actually hopes the war coming will help him put his personal problems on a back burner. For a while and it does, but only temporarily.

Another favorite I have here is Patrick O'Neal who if there is a villain other than the Japanese, he's it. He's a smarmy former Congressman who's looking as the war as a series of photo ops and is already planning his post war political career. O'Neal's not above jeopardizing a naval operation for the sake of a little publicity for his boss Dana Andrews. His confrontation with Kirk Douglas in the latrine is a classic.

In Harm's Way is a skilled blend of war drama and soap opera in the best sense of that term. It can be enjoyed and appreciated by fans of both.

58 of 78 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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