Basically the story of the sea battle for Okinawa between the ships of the U.S. Navy and the Japanese suicide planes---the Kamaikazes---and, as such, is filled with stock footage from ... See full summary »
Stories of the journeys of a wagon train as it leaves post-Civil War Missouri on its way to California through the plains, deserts, and Rocky Mountains. The first treks were led by gruff, ... See full summary »
This movie's written prologue and dedication seen during the opening credits states: "We wish to express our appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy for the full cooperation extended to us in the production of this film. To the officers and the men who served aboard the Hellcat submarines during World War II this picture is dedicated." See more »
The Hellcat sub has a Japanese freighter in its sights out on open ocean, but when the torpedoes hit, it is clearly docked in port. See more »
The scenes used to show the island they are attacking are from the movie "Crash Dive" See more »
World War Two Submarine Saga Featuring Mr. & Mrs. Reagan
US Navy submarines bravely try to penetrate the heavily-mined entrance to the Sea of Japan, in order to sink enemy shipping which is carrying coal, food and iron from China to the Japanese homeland.
On one level a simple war action movie, this film is also a commendable study in the morality of leadership. The central question posed by the movie is whether a commander's duty towards a single seaman in obvious danger outweighs his overall responsibility to his crew.
Ronald Reagan is very good as the straight, correct Captain Casey Abbott. Back at Guam he has a girl, a nurse in the military hospital (Nancy Davis, to give her her professional name). When a frogman who is also a rival for the nurse's affections gets into difficulties, Captain Casey has to try to separate personal and professional motivations.
Casey's Executive Officer, Dan Landon, clashes with his skipper but by a twist of fate finds himself having to make a very similar decision. Will he call the plays differently?
The film works as an uncomplicated war story, but does contain a few infelicities. The submariners are depicted as nice guys in order to enlist viewer sympathy, but this is a little overdone and the sailors come across as childish simpletons, stealing cookies and hiding their dice. Wes Barton has to be portrayed as a popular guy so that we will resent his treatment at the Captain's hands, but to have sailors pleading for a Barton story as he is entering the airlock on a dangerous mission is just unbelievable. The crew of the USS Starfish get sealed orders for a special mission. They are to enter the Straits of Tsushima, land a party on a fortified island, and destroy its defences. Would an ordinary submarine crew really be entrusted with such a specialised task? The frogman sequences are shot in murky water and are hard to follow. Penetration of the minefield channel is effected in a few seconds, when such an undertaking would surely last many hours.
For contemporary viewers, much of the film's interest will lie in the unique experience of watching Ron and Nancy onscreen together. They had been married for five years when "Hellcats" was made, and at the time of writing, 42 years later, they are still going strong. It is tempting, if unwarranted, to scrutinize their lines for significant snippets. Ronald Reagan's character is asked what he will do after the War and he announces, "I'm going into the surplus business." Given his leadership style, some would say that was an accurate prediction of both his gubernatorial performance in California and his presidency. Much of Ron's dialogue is an essay on the burden of leadership, and how only a special few are fitted to bear it. Nancy confides to him, "You know I was fresh out of a bad marriage when we met. I wanted to be sure this time. So we played it safe, until I knew you were Mr. Right." In fairness to the Reagans, that, at least, has proved to be autobiographical.
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