Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Crest of the Wave (1954) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Gene Kelly stars in a dramatic role in CREST OF THE WAVE (1954), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

Kelly was one of many U.S. stars who worked in England in the early '50s. CREST OF THE WAVE was produced and directed by John Boulting and Roy Boulting in association with MGM.

Roy Boulting cowrote the screenplay with Frank Harvey, based on a play called SEAGULLS OVER SORRENTO by Hugh Hastings. SEAGULLS OVER SORRENTO was also the film's UK release title.

The story concerns the men working at a British naval base dubbed "Sorrento," on a rocky island off the coast of Scotland. The British navy is developing a new type of torpedo at Sorrento, and when one of their scientists is killed during the testing stage, a U.S. navy scientist, Lt. Bradville (Kelly), is brought in, making the project a joint British-American venture.

Bradville is mild-mannered but determined, and he and his two more brash assistants (Jeff Richards and Fredd Wayne) at times clash with their British counterparts, played by actors including John Justin, Bernard Lee, Sidney James, Patric Doonan, and Ray Jackson. Tensions rise as tests fail, and it seems that the project may be cancelled entirely, unless a breakthrough occurs.

This is only a so-so drama, interesting enough to stick with it but rather dry and plodding. The story has its moments but overall is not very well plotted, particularly when it comes to the amazing coincidence that one of the American sailors had married a girl previously engaged to one of the British sailors -- and both men happened to end up on this little island!

At 92 minutes it also felt like the film could have been trimmed a bit to help pump up the energy. The film will be of greatest interest to Kelly fans or those who like naval films.

The filmmakers work to open up the play with scenes at sea, but at times the theatrical roots show through strongly, including numerous scenes where several characters sit around the bunk area talking. And talking some more. It doesn't help that at times the British dialogue is a tad difficult to follow, even for someone who watches plenty of British productions.

The movie was shot in black and white by Gilbert Taylor. The score is by Miklos Rozsa.

The Warner Archive DVD is a good print. The disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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