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Operation Pacific (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 27 January 1951 (USA)
2:46 | Trailer
During WWII, a submarine's second in command inherits the problem of torpedoes that don't explode. When on shore, he is eager to win back his ex-wife.


George Waggner


George Waggner





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Lt Cmdr. Duke E. Gifford
Patricia Neal ... Lt. (j.g.) Mary Stuart
Ward Bond ... Cmdr. John T. 'Pop' Perry
Scott Forbes ... Lt. Larry
Philip Carey ... Lt. (j.g.) Bob Perry
Paul Picerni ... Jonesy
William Campbell ... The Talker (as Bill Campbell)
Kathryn Givney ... Cmdr. Steele
Martin Milner ... Ens. Caldwell
Cliff Clark Cliff Clark ... Commander, SUBPAC
Jack Pennick ... The Chief
Virginia Brissac ... Sister Anna
Vincent Fotre Vincent Fotre ... Soundman
Lewis Martin Lewis Martin ... Squad Commander
Sam Edwards ... Junior


The submarine USS Thunderfish successfully completes a secret mission to rescue a group of orphans on a remote Pacific island. On the way back to Honolulu they encounter a Japanese aircraft carrier but the torpedoes they fire explode about halfway to the target, a recurring problem that has plagued the submarine fleet for some time. The Thunderfish's XO, Duke Gifford runs into his ex-wife and Navy nurse Mary Stuart at the hospital. There's still a spark between them but the boat is sent out on another mission before anything is resolved. When Gifford's good friend and captain, Pop Perry, is killed Gifford believe it's his fault. A inquiry clears him and after he and his men solve the problem of the misfiring torpedoes, they set out to sea. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He's Skipper "Duke" Gifford Who Could Put A Torpedo Through A Needle...And Sew Up A Date With A Laugh! See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


When John Wayne is getting his crew out of jail, the commander is talking about how the submarine crews are always in the jail. He states if it is not the USS Thunderfish, he names four other submarines. He names the USS Tang, USS Silversides, USS Wahoo and the USS Growler. These are real subs that were actually in the Pacific in WW2 and all served with distinction. The Tang and Wahoo had 2 of the best records of the war with 2 of the most famous sub commanders of the war. Tang, Growler and Wahoo were all lost in battle. See more »


During the board of inquiry in the ward room on board the Thunder, the three investigating officers are all wearing Navy Service Caps with scrambled eggs. However, when they come topside and depart the Thunder, only two are wearing service caps, the third is in a garrison cap. See more »


Lt. Mary Stuart: What's the matter cupid? I saw your wire.
'Pop' Perry: Have you been seeing a lot of Bob?
Lt. Mary Stuart: Yes.
'Pop' Perry: Should we level with each other, like always?
Lt. Mary Stuart: Like always.
'Pop' Perry: I think you and Duke belong together. I don't know what's been keeping you apart, but I'd hate to think you were using my kid brother to solve your problem.
Lt. Mary Stuart: Aww Pop, why didn't I meet you first?
See more »

Crazy Credits

In keeping with the submarine theme of the film: at the very start, we see a submarine periscope break the surface of the sea, then we see an officer looking into the view-port of the periscope, then we see the opening credits appear, as if being viewed through a periscope. See more »

Alternate Versions

West German version was edited by ca. 13 minutes. German DVD release contains this cut version and the original US version. See more »


Referenced in John Wayne: On Board with the Duke (1997) See more »


Eternal Father, Strong to Save
("The Navy Hymn") (uncredited)
Words by William Whiting and music by John B. Dykes
Heard in the chapel
See more »

User Reviews

Tribute to the Silent Service
27 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I like submarine films, but in watching them one has to realize that there are only so many plot situations and each film seems to cover just about all of them. In fact the officers and men of the U.S.S. Thunderfish during what little spare time they had were watching another Warner Brother submarine adventure, Destination Tokyo. If you remember they exchanged the film with another submarine crew for George Washington Slept Here.

Operation Pacific unfortunately suffered with an additional handicap, not foreseen by the Brothers Warner. Another film from Paramount entitled Submarine Command came out right about the same time as Operation Pacific. It starred John Wayne's very good friend and box office rival William Holden. A lot of the same situations are covered in that film, hard to distinguish between the two.

That being said Operation Pacific is one of John Wayne's better war films and a good tribute to the men of the Silent Service. I remember back in the day, I had a history professor in college who was a marine in World War II. He said without reservation that for all of what he was doing in places like Tarawa, Saipan, and Iwo Jima, the tipping balance in the Pacific War was the American superiority in submarines. Due in no small part to the Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Fleet Chester W. Nimitz who trained on submarines and appreciated their worth. Cutting supplies to the home islands helped in no small measure to American combat success ultimately.

John Wayne is the Executive Officer of the Thunderfish which is commanded by Ward Bond. His former wife Patricia Neal is a navy nurse at Pearl Harbor. He'd like to win her back, but she's now dating Philip Carey, a navy flier and Bond's younger brother.

Besides the romantic problems the Thunderfish goes on all kinds of missions. We first see them rescuing some orphan children off a Japanese held island, later they have some real problems with defective torpedoes in which Chief Jack Pennick has a big hand in solving. And of course the usual tangles with the Japanese Navy exploding depth charges around them.

In the supporting cast I have to say that my two favorite performances are from Paul Picerni who plays crewman Jonesy. Picerni's best known for being Robert Stack's number 2 guy in The Untouchables, but he's absolutely great as the comic relief in Operation Pacific. Happy-go-lucky sort of guy, if he were Latino, Gilbert Roland would have had the part.

The second is Jack Pennick. You can't think of too many John Ford films his horseface presence wasn't in. He plays the Chief Petty Officer on the Thunderfish and he's simply known as the Chief. Ford usually gave him minimal dialog in his films, he speaks a bit more here. One of my favorite John Wayne moments in cinema is when Wayne speaks a heartfelt tribute to young ensign Martin Milner after Pennick has been killed. Talking about the accomplishments that people of his rank make to the U.S. Navy. If your eyes don't moisten you are made of stone. It is in fact one of my favorite John Wayne scenes of all time.

Though the Duke and Patricia Neal got a lot more attention fourteen years later in In Harm's Way, I think they do just fine in Operation Pacific and I think you'll feel the same way when you see it.

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Release Date:

27 January 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Operation Pacific See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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