DIRECTED BY GEORGE WAGGNER
PRODUCED BY LOUIS F. EDELMAN
MUSIC BY MAX STEINER
Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas
DIRECTED BY GEORGE WAGGNER
PRODUCED BY LOUIS F. EDELMAN
MUSIC BY MAX STEINER
Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas
INFORMATION FROM IMDb
Submarine commander Duke Gifford feels guilty in the death
of his former commanding officer, as well as about his failed marriage.
These issues pull at him during a hazardous mission against the Japanese in World War II.
Summary written by Jim Beaver
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 .... Commander, SUBPAC
Jack Pennick .... The Chief
Virginia Brissac .... Sister Anna
Vincent Fotre .... Soundman
Lewis Martin .... Squad commander
Sam Edwards .... Junior
Louis Mosconi .... Radarman Mosconi
John Baer .... Fighter pilot (uncredited)
Robert Carson .... Torpedo Officer (uncredited)
Gail Davis .... Bit part (uncredited)
Chris Drake .... Sparks (radioman) (uncredited)
James Flavin .... Mick (SP commander) (uncredited)
Bess Flowers .... Dance floor extra (uncredited)
Ray Hyke .... Crewman (uncredited)
Gayle Kellogg .... Crewman (uncredited)
Al Kikume .... Hawaiian (uncredited)
Brett King .... Lt. Ernie Stark (uncredited)
Mike Lally .... Quartermaster (uncredited)
Keith Larsen .... Crewman (uncredited)
Harry Lauter .... Freddie (officer on submarine Corvena) (uncredited)
Richard Loo .... Japanese fighter pilot (uncredited)
Bob Nash .... Quartermaster (uncredited)
Carl Saxe .... Shore Patrolman (uncredited)
William Self .... Helmsman (uncredited)
Michael St. Angel .... Lt. Jorgenson (uncredited)
Bert Stevens .... Naval officer at briefing (uncredited)
Milburn Stone .... Ground Control officer (uncredited)
Harlan Warde .... Dick (admiral's aide) (uncredited)
Steve Wayne .... Crewman (uncredited)
Mack Williams .... Crewman (uncredited)
Carleton Young .... Pilot briefing officers on carrier (uncredited)
George Waggner (written by)
Bert Glennon (director of photography)
* During the film, the men of the Thunderfish watch Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo (1943).
During filming Gary Cooper visited the set to persuade his mistress Patricia Neal to abort his child. Neal later became a pro-life activist.
John Wayne and Patricia Neal did not get along during filming. She was particularly annoyed by his treatment of a gay publicity man. Nearly fourteen years later, however, they worked together on In Harm's Way (1965) where she noted that he had mellowed a lot, possibly because he was seriously ill with lung cancer at the time.
This movie's opening foreword and dedication states: "When the Pacific Fleet was destroyed by the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, it remained for the submarines to carry the war to the enemy. In the four years that followed, our undersea craft sank six million tons of Japanese shipping including some of the proudest ships of the Imperial Navy. Fifty-two of our submarines and thirty-five hundred officers and men were lost. It is to these men and the entire silent service that this picture is humbly dedicated."
The problems with submarine torpedoes shown in the movie are accurate. A poorly designed and tested firing pin could malfunction on a good hit (that is, a torpedo striking within about 45 degrees of perpendicular to the side of the target). Poor hits (at a very sharp angle to the side of the ship) could often produce more reliable explosions. Finding the problem, while not performed by the submarine crews as shown, actually did occur in a similar manner.
John Wayne was dissatisfied with the finished film, believing it to be overlong and containing too much romance. He was also opposed from the beginning to the casting of Patricia Neal, whom he felt was too young at 24 for the role of his ex-wife.
* Factual errors: It is impossible for a sailor to communicate with an airplane by using a sound-powered phone.
* Continuity: Inside the submarine, Duke talks with Pop while Pop smokes a cigar. In the following shot, when Duke stands up and leaves, Pop is holding the coffee cup with both hands, with no cigar at all. But next shot he is holding the cup with one hand and the cigar with the other.
* Continuity: Duke walks in the hospital corridor holding the cap in his right hand. In the subsequent shot he appears in front of the nursery, holding the cap with both hands.
* Continuity: In the hospital, after Duke kisses Mary Stuart, she turns to her right side. But the next shot shows her, in close-up, facing him already.
* Continuity: In the submarine deck, Duke is holding a lit cigarette when he sees Mary Stuart arriving with Pop in a jeep. In the following shot, when he steps down the gangway, the cigarette has disappeared.
* Continuity: When Pop gives the order "Cast off for'ard", the person behind him is holding a microphone below his chin with his left hand. In the subsequent shot his left hand holds the left earphone.
* Continuity: When the submarine is being machine-gunned by the Japanese plane, Duke is just entering the doorway - meaning that if he got shot he could only get shot in the back. Nevertheless, he gets shot right in the front, near his right shoulder.
* Continuity: Toward the end of the film, after Duke kisses Mary Stuart, she holds his right arm to follow him. In the next shot she is turning around the left arm to hold his arm.
* Revealing mistakes: One of the torpedoes fired from the sub is pulled by a visible cable.
* Revealing mistakes: When the Thunder is "depth-charged" near the beginning of the film, it's US Navy sailors who are dropping the cans. Only a few frames are shown, but it's clearly US Naval personnel (possibly stock footage).
* Anachronisms: In the opening scenes the stenciling on the life rafts show the date of manufacture as 8/49 which is approximately four years after the end of the war.
* Revealing mistakes: After the first shore leave, the Thunderfish returns to action. It sinks the first ship it encounters. However, the ship that is seen through the periscope before the torpedoes are fired isn't the same ship that is seen sinking in the second look through the periscope.
* Anachronisms: The sinking of the U.S.S. Corvina by a Japanese submarine was an actual event that happened almost a year earlier than shown in the film.
* Crew or equipment visible: When the Thunderfish dives under to come up astern of the Japanese decoy ship, it's clear both ships are in a diving tank.
* Continuity: In the first attack sequence after Pop tells Duke he's getting command of the Thunderfish there is a shot of the sub cruising underwater. Just past, and under, the bow in the lower right of the frame you can see a depth charge drum falling just before the scene changes back to an interior shot. At this point the boat was just going to GQ and was not yet under attack by surface ships.
* Factual errors: The studio set is much larger than a wartime submarine would have been.
* Revealing mistakes: The first ship sunk on the second patrol has US Navy numbering on its bow.
* Factual errors: The film is careful to point out that the Thunderfish's first arrival at Pearl Harbor was in 1942 but John Wayne, Ward Bond, Philip Carey, and others all wear ribbons that were not instituted until very late 1942 and not actually implemented until 1943 (Presidential Unit Citation, Pacific Campaign Ribbon, others). In particular, Duke (John Wayne) wears a Presidential Unit Citation ribbon with one bronze star, indicating he received this award twice before it was created. Ribbons were also displayed out of order, incomplete, and otherwise improperly displayed.
* Factual errors: The sailors on the IJN Decoy Ship are using US .30 cal Browning Light Machine guns. Highly unlikely that they would use foreign weapons and ammunition, even if captured earlier in the war. Supply would have been impossible.
* Factual errors: Mary Stuart was allowed into the ComSubPac plotting room. It is next to impossible to believe that a highly secret room like that (with location and position of the entire Pacific Fleet) would be accessible to common US Navy Personnel like nurses.
* Anachronisms: The fight with the "decoy vessel" was a complete plot fabrication. The Imperial Japanese Navy is not known to have operated specific submarine decoy vessels (commonly called Q-Ships). These were used by the Allied Powers, primarily by the British Royal Navy and the United States Navy. Had this been an actual depiction of a fight between a Q-Ship and a submarine, the submarine would not have surfaced, as that is exactly what a Q-Ship would have wanted. Also, even rammed, a decoy ship would be extremely hard to sink, as they were usually filled with extra flotation (typically wood) to keep them afloat after taking damage.
* Factual errors: When speaking with LCDR Gifford on the foredeck, the sailor from the south states that his "great grand pappy served on the Merrimack". Someone that proud of an ancestor would have known that the ship was named Virginia (the correct Confederate Navy name), not Merrimack (the name used in bad history texts for decades).
* Factual errors: The pictures of a large splash immediately after the Thunderfish fires torpedoes are incorrect. These are torpedoes launched by a surface ship. A submarine launched torpedo should never break the surface.
* Anachronisms: In the attack on "the whole Imperial fleet", the vessel actually shown to be hit is a merchant ship, something which would not be present in a group of warships.
* Anachronisms: The final attack on the carrier left behind by the Imperial fleet makes no sense. Carriers were the most important vessels in a fleet, and would not be left behind without an escort of more than a single destroyer, especially in the presence of an enemy submarine. If the carrier had been too badly damaged to be saved, it would have been destroyed by its own fleet.
* Revealing mistakes: When the dummy torpedo warhead is being hauled up by crane and dropped on a target to test the new firing mechanisms, 3 tests are performed. All 3 tests are the exact same piece of footage. You can tell by the way the warhead bounces when it hits its target, the same 2 seamen are to either side of it in the foreground in all 3 tests, and the left seaman jerks his right arm to the left in exactly the same manner in all 3 tests.
* Anachronisms: At the Pearl Harbor brig, the Shore Patrol commander complains that the crews of numerous submarines are brawling with his men, naming the Tang and Wahoo among them. These two boats could not have been operating from Pearl at the same time, as the Wahoo was lost in action in October 1943 and the Tang did not enter the war zone until the following January.
Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Pearl Harbor, O`ahu, Hawaii, USA
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