Mission of the Shark: The Saga of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (1991)

TV Movie  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  29 September 1991 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 613 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 2 critic

True story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, its crew's struggle to survive the sharks and exposure, and the captain's scape-goat court-martial.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Capt. Charles Butler McVay
Lieutenant Steven Scott
Spilner (as Joe Carberry)
Major Green
Eddie Frias ...


True story of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, its crew's struggle to survive the sharks and exposure, and the captain's scape-goat court-martial.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

29 September 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mission of the Shark  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the very mission that Quint (Robert Shaw) talked about being a member of in a famous scene from Jaws (1974). See more »


In the scene where a seaplane lands at sea to rescue the crew, the plane used is a Grumman Albatross. However, this aircraft was not put into service until 1949. The real life aircraft that rescued the crew, was a Catalina PBY. See more »


Edited from War and Remembrance (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

Good job, shows horrors of war but not in graphic way
7 July 2008 | by See all my reviews

The movie starts with a 15-year reunion of the men who served on the U.S.S. Indianapolis. Actually, many of the men are not there, and you will find out why when you watch. But the hero of this ship is Captain Charles McVay, and those who served under him cheer as he enters the room.

During World War II, the Indianapolis had an important mission. The sailors wonder why that box is so heavily guarded. There is lots of speculation; some claim it is special toilet paper for MacArthur. Down below, a high-ranking officer is informing McVay of something he seems to already know but won't confirm. That box contains the most deadly weapon ever developed. Those of us who know the outcome of World War II know exactly what that means.

There seems to be some disagreement on how best to avoid an attack by a Japanese sub. One sailor tells his superiors they are wrong in not trying to deceive the Japanese. Perhaps they should have listened to him, but he is sternly reminded who is in charge.

The Japanese are shown getting ready to attack, and perhaps the outcome of the war would have been somewhat different if they had succeeded. At this point, the sub commander doesn't believe an attack can succeed.

But the second time ...

In all the chaos, it's hard to believe anyone would have known what to do. Capt. McVay's attitude seems to be that abandoning ship would be the coward's way out. We know he survives to see the 15-year reunion. Eventually, it is clear there is only one course of action.

One would think the men would be rescued quickly, but there are procedures to keep the Japanese from knowing too much, and that may have contributed to a delay. So the men have more of an adventure than we might have expected.

This movie shows both sides of what it means to fight in a war. Stacy Keach gives a very strong performance as a leader who is tough but friendly and well-liked. How could anyone believe he was anything but a hero? But if you watch you'll find out some think he was not. There are plenty of courageous and even heroic actions, particularly those of the ship's doctor played by Richard Thomas. And then there are the men who need a leader to keep them from following their selfish desires. There are also cowards; you can't call them anything else. But would we do any better in such a situation?

Compared to "Saving Private Ryan", this would be a fireworks show on the Fourth of July gone awry followed by a dangerous kids' adventure at sea. It's hard to watch--this is war--but not graphic.

The Japanese seem cold and unfeeling, as one might expect. That's the image we have of them. But Hashimoto, who gave the order to fire on the Indianapolis, is shown to be human after all. He had a duty, and he succeeded. Not every time, but eventually. One scene with him later in the movie is pretty amazing.

This is certainly worth seeing.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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