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Stand by for Action (1942)
Surprisingly entertaining WWII story with 1st rate performance by Charles Laughton
What at first blush appears to be a throw-away Navy propaganda film, released in Dec 1942, turns out to be a very easy-to-watch tale of war at sea with some moments of excellence, particularly the scenes with Charles Laughton as the crotchety Admiral Thomas.
The commissioning of the destroyer Warren includes a rousing speech by Laughton in which he inspires the new crew with a dramatic re-telling of the story of John Paul Jones giving his "I have not yet begun to fight" speech aboard the Bon Homme Richard. Off-beat plot twist includes the Warren finding a life raft filled with babies and pregnant women. The final act of the movie is an exciting depiction of the bravery of the Warren in single-handedly sinking a Japanese Battle Ship to save an entire convoy (naval convoys and battle are somewhat dated but still interesting and earned an Academy Award Nomination for special effects). Robert Taylor turns in a passable job as our hero, the spoiled LT. from Harvard. Brian Donlevy is also good as the seasoned CPT from whom Taylor learns much and later becomes his friend. Appearances by stalwart actors Chill Wills and Walter Brennan. Second half of the movie has lots of sea-battle action.