Saturday, June 6, 2015

Crash Dive

Earlier this afternoon, FXM Retro ran Crash Dive, a movie that I have to admit was new to me. It's running again tomorrow morning at 11:50 AM if you want to see it.

The movie starts off with an Allied civilian boat of some sort having been torpedoed by the Nazis. Coming to their rescue is a PT boat, captained by Lt. Ward Stewart (Tyrone Power, who was billed in the cast as part of the Marine Corps Reserves). He drops some depth charges, annihilates those damn Nazis, and becomes a hero for it. For his troubles, he gets sent to New London, CT, where there is a submarine base. Apparently, the US submarines are short of officers, and the Navy needs Lt. Stewart on a submarine, even though he's good on the PT and likes it. At any rate, Lt. Stewart gets transferred to the Corsair, captained by Lt. Cmdr. Dewey Connors (Dana Andrews in an early role).

Lt. Cmdr. Connors, for his part, has had a lot on his mind. He's been waiting for the requisite senior officer to join him, and is mildly miffed that Lt. Stewart needs to go to Washington for the weekend to take care of some business before setting out to sea in the submarine. Meanwhile, Connors also has a girl, Jean Hewlett (Anne Baxter), who teaches at the local girls' school. He sees her off at the train station, as she's taking some honors students to Washington.

Unsurprisingly, Hewlett winds up in the same car as Lt. Stewart, who has accidentally occupied her berth. He immediately falls in love with her, not realizing that not only does she have a boyfriend, but that boyfriend is his fellow officer. So he decides that the best way to get the girl is to act like a complete jerk, because there are some women who like such jerks, and because with Power being billed ahead of Andrews in the cast, there's a reasonable expectation that it's his character who is supposed to be with Baxter's, not Andrews' character. Lt. Stewart keeps pursuing Jean, until she finally gives into him. Well, she really gives in to his nice grandmother (Dame May Whitty).

Meanwhile, the submarine goes out and confronts a Nazi mine boat somewhere in the North Atlantic, and they realize that the boat is far enough out that they have to have a base somewhere. Not that there's anywhere in the North Atlantic for them to have a base. The most logical explanation would be if it's hidden in Greenland, except that the comments they make about the climate would imply that the base is someplace further south, if only there were islands far enough south in the Atlantic for them to have a base.

The sub gets back to New London, Lt. Stewart finds that Jean is engaged to be married to Connors, and then Connors finds that Jean and Stewart are in love with each other. All of this at the same time they're about to head back out into the Atlantic to find that Nazi base and destroy it....

There's a fair bit in Crash Dive that's predictable and formulaic, but then this one was made during World War II, when audiences probably wanted something that was more morale-raising than anything else, which means uncomplicated and familiar. Crash Dive, I think, probably would have succeeded for audiences of the day; as for today's audiences I'm not so certain. I thought Power was even more of a jerk than he was in A Yank in the RAF. The climactic raid on the Nazi base is OK, but the print has colors that are muddled, even more than would normally be the case for a nighttime raid. It was to the point that it was sometimes tough to tell what was going on. And then after the raid succeeds -- as I said, this was a morale builder -- there's a tacked on bit about the importance of every type of ship to the war effort.

As I say when there's a movie I don't particularly care for, however, watch and judge for yourself. The movie did get a DVD release, but I don't know if it's still in print.

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