An American tanker is sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors spend eleven days at sea on a raft. They're next assigned to the liberty ship "Sea Witch" bound for Murmansk through the sub-stalked North Atlantic.
Lieutenant Joe Rossi is 1st Officer on a Liberty Ship in a great convoy bound from Halifax to Murmansk. After German subs crushed the convoy his ship loses the convoy and is heading alone to Murmansk. In spite of attacks by German planes and subs he get the ship safely to Murmansk...Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Two replica ships were built on the Warner Brothers sound stages before John Howard Lawson's screenplay for this movie was even completed. See more »
The Liberty ship "John Fitch" is launched twice during the closing montage. See more »
Lt. Joe Rossi:
[about Wright's gun crew]
They're takin' 'em kinda young these days, ain't they?
We're *getting* them young, Mr. Rossi, we're not taking them. Those boys all volunteered for this duty.
Lt. Joe Rossi:
Don't get me wrong, Ensign, I'm not objecting to their youth. I'm all for it.
They've all been trained for this job.
Lt. Joe Rossi:
Well, I hope so, because just between you and me, Mr. Wright, I don't think *my* men could hit the deck with their hats.
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The colorized version and many b&w TV prints, are edited to fit a two-hour time slot. Most of the cuts involve the interactions of the crew (notably Alan Hale Sr) in the rec room and virtually all of Raymond Massey's domestic scenes with Ruth Gordon with the exception of his actual arrival home. Also omitted are most of the scenes of the cook, extended scenes of the destruction of Massey's ship early on as well as several interstitial and transitional scenes. See more »
This comparatively little-known film should have done for the Merchant Sailors of WWII what "The Cruel Sea" did for the image of the Royal Navy. The men who sailed the convoy ships were treated appallingly by the owners of the vessels they crewed, who indeed where quick to institute "retroactive stoppage of pay" clauses upon receiving word of a ship's being lost. They also were subject to verbal --even physical-- abuse by their own countrymen, who routinely mistook them for "Service Shirkers". "Action" is one of the few films that gives them their due.
This film is remarkable on many counts. Not only is the acting rock solid, and the story in itself a fine "sea saga", but the director has managed to avoid many potential pitfalls thrown into in his path by the War (Propaganda?) Department. The obligatory leave-taking scenes are touching, but not maudlin; the even more obligatory "speech-making" is impassioned, but never embarrassingly so. And the Enemy is portrayed as a thoroughly competent if ruthless professional, as dedicated to his own trade as the convoy Sailors are to theirs. (I for one did not find the lack of English "subtitles" a problem --I could pretty well figure out what the U-Boat skipper and his crew were up to.)
To repeat my opening comments,-- this film, though not as well-circulated as "The Cruel Sea", certainly should rank as its equal.
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