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The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, War | 29 December 1960 (USA)
During WW2, Lt. Rip Crandall, who was a yachtsman before the war, takes command of the USS Echo, a sailing ship, for a secret mission in waters patrolled by Japanese warships.

Director:

Richard Murphy

Writers:

Richard Murphy (screenplay), Herbert H. Margolis (screen story) (as Herbert Margolis) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Jack Lemmon ... Lt. Rip Crandall
Ricky Nelson ... Ens. Tommy J. Hanson
John Lund ... Lt. Cmdr. Wilbur F. Vandewater
Chips Rafferty ... Patterson
Tom Tully ... Capt. McClung
Joby Baker ... Josh Davidson
Warren Berlinger ... Radioman 2nd Class A.J. 'Sparks' Sparks
Patricia Driscoll Patricia Driscoll ... Maggie
Mike Kellin ... Chief Mate Jack MacCarthy
Richard Anderson ... Lt. Dennis M. Foster
Alvy Moore ... Seaman J. Johnson
Joseph Gallison Joseph Gallison ... 'Cameo' (as Joe Gallison)
Teru Shimada ... Maj. Samada
George Shibata George Shibata ... Capt. Shigetsu
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Storyline

Lieutenant Rip Crandall is hoodwinked into taking command of the "Wackiest Ship in the Navy" - a real garbage scow with a crew of misfits who don't know a jib from a jigger. What none of them knows, including Crandall, is that this ship has a very important top-secret mission to complete in waters patrolled by the Japanese fleet. Their mission will save hundreds of allied lives - if only they can get there in one piece. Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

WACKY IS THE WORD FOR IT! (original print ad - all caps) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese

Release Date:

29 December 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Wackiest Ship in the Navy See more »

Filming Locations:

Kaua'i, Hawaii, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

As Lemmon and Nelson are training the crew in how to unfurl the mainsail, you can see the stern of the USS Fletcher in the background. The Fletcher earned 15 battle stars in WWII and Korea. She was one of the most decorated destroyers to serve in the South Pacific. She was scrapped in 1972. See more »

Goofs

Port Moresby is a much larger town and port than represented in the film. There is no large mountain behind it. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: If you remember Pearl Harbor, you'll recall that in the year that followed the Japanese were almost invincible. Early in 1943, however, they were checked. Stopped cold by the Marines at Guadalcanal, the Navy in the Coral Sea, and the Allied armies in New Guinea. This was a period of far-reaching decisions, desperate strategies, and incredibly daring counter-strokes - not the least of which involved two bright young naval officers...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: ALLIED HEADQUARTERS BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA FEB. 1943 See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Operation Double 007 (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans
(uncredited)
(c) 1947
Lyrics by Edgar De Lange (as Eddie De Lange)
Music by Louis Alter
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Promoted Two Grades and a Better Officer!
26 May 2003 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

Based on true events (we were at war with the Japanese in 1943 in the Pacific), "The Wackiest Ship in the Army" stars Jack Lemmon as, once again, a naval officer.

Lemmon made his first big film in 1955 when he played the con artist, Ensign Pulver, in "Mister Roberts," a movie that's attained classic status. In this 1961 film he dons the navy uniform again, this time as a lieutenant (senior grade). A reserve officer who was a dapper yachtsman in California before the war, Lemmon is assigned to command a sailing vessel with (barely functioning) auxiliary mechanical propulsion.

The U.S.S. Echo is hardly the dream command of any officer, reserve or regular. But the new C.O. gamely takes on training an eager but totally bemused crew in the art of sailing a vessel.

The Echo is assigned to land an Australian coast watcher on an island occupied by the stereotypically portrayed Japanese (more Japanese officers with U.C.L.A. degrees appear in film than ever showed up on the front). The heroic coast watchers were very important during the island hopping campaign and they deserve every bit of cinematic recognition they have received. Many died, some after being tortured by their captors.

Nowhere nearly as smoothly directed as "Mister Roberts," "The Wackiest Ship in the Army" (and there's no rational reason for the title-the Army doesn't even play a role here) teeters unevenly between some nice comedy and some very 1950s-1960s war action supplemented by combat footage (one Japanese plane has been shown blown out of the sky so often in movies that if the pilot's estate was entitled to royalties the heirs would be richer than Bill Gates).

The exploits of the Echo's crew led, we are told, to the American victory in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, an important engagement.

This is a good film for renting. Jack Lemmon plays the competent and caring C.O. very nicely and is the center of the story.

The Navy must have really liked the script. They put a fleet anchorage at the filmmaker's disposal. Here's a quiz for the sharp-eyed. At one point the stern of one of the most famous and important smaller combatant vessels of World War II is shown while Lemmon is instructing his crew. What ship is it?

6/10.


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