Captain Hale takes over command of a U.S. Naval vessel as it prepares to take part in the invasion of Okinawa in the Second World War. His crew includes a rowdy gun crew who punctuate fire missions with banter and antics.
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 official U.S. war-department films and newsreels and from Japanese newsreels..and even a movie-within-a-movie where 1948's "Ladies of the Chorus" is shown to a crew of a ship in 1944. The factual story is interlaced with a fictional one dealing with the crew of an American destroyer which is assigned to an ocean picket line around Okinawa to protect the supply ships and the forces on the island. As such, it has the usual battle-weary skipper, the Latino wise-guy, the "Kid" and the "Old Veteran", and the brash, cigar-chewing "operator" on the ship who has cornered the entire supply of the ship's beer rations.
I don't want to carry on too long about this shoddy film because it isn't worth it. Okinawa was an important objective towards the end of the Pacific War, a sizable island intended for use as a staging area for the invasion of Japan. It was a terrible battle fought under terrible conditions. Mud was everywhere, and civilians died by the thousands. It was one of the few battles in which the Navy suffered greater casualties than the Army and Marines ashore. The main reason for the difference lay in the first massive use of suicide airplanes, loaded with explosives, called Kamikazes. They managed to sink or put out of action more than 33 American ships as well as some others belonging to Allied forces. And they inflicted damage on still more. About 6,000 naval officers and men were casualties.
This movie exploits the Battle of Okinawa. We watch a destroyer attacked by flights of Kamikazes every once in a while, in between long sessions of the usual minor conflicts and bantering of the crew. The bantering sounds more desperate than funny. The overall impression is that someone realized that a good deal of footage of the attacks had recently been released but not yet used in a feature film. So a few dumb clichés were slapped together to build a framing story in which the newsreel footage could be interpolated.
I was disappointed -- almost ashamed -- when I saw this the first time, about twenty years ago. I've watched it again since then and it hasn't improved. It's an insult to the men, women, and children who were involved. First, I would like to say that it was a great surprise for me to see the director's name: Leigh Jason himself. This guy made only comedies during the 40's. And his last feature is a war movie. Incredible, isn't it? Of course, there is lots of talk, but it gives a pretty good study of characters. For this kind of production, I mean. Pat O'Brien is as fine as usual, Cameron Mitchell gives here one of his first appearances on a screen. Well, I guess so...I'll check on IMDb. But I would say that this feature is a little too long, even if the running time is only 67 minutes. I know, it seems incredible. Perhaps is it too much talkative?
Action scenes, only at the end and focusing on Japanese kamikazes, are taken from stock shots, essentially.
Produced by Wallace Mac Donald. Good feature, and rare. 646f9e108c
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