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Hellcats of the Navy (1957)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller, War | May 1957 (USA)
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The daring exploits of a submarine commander whose mission is to chart the minefields in the waters of Japan during World War II.

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Writers:

(book) (as Vice-Admiral Charles A. Lockwood Vice-Admiral USN Ret.), (book) (as Col. Hans Christian Adamson USAF Ret.) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
... Cmdr. Casey Abbott
... Nurse Lt. Helen Blair (as Nancy Davis)
... Lt. Cmdr. Don Landon
... Freddy Warren
... Lt. Paul Prentice
William 'Bill' Phillips ... Carroll (as William Phillips)
... Lt. (j.g.) Wes Barton
Michael Garth ... Bill aka Lt. Charlie
... Chick (as Joseph Turkel)
... Jug
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Storyline

The daring exploits of a submarine commander whose mission is to chart the minefields in the waters of Japan during World War II.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Down . . . Down . . . Down . . . into enemy waters with the fightin' hellcats of the U.S. sub pack !

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

May 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hellcats of the Sea  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Crazy Credits

The scenes used to show the island they are attacking are from the movie "Crash Dive" See more »

Connections

Featured in Reagan's Way: Pathway to the Presidency (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

World War Two Submarine Saga Featuring Mr. & Mrs. Reagan
13 February 1999 | by See all my reviews

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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