Monday, July 20, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Crash Dive (1943)

CRASH DRIVE is a grand World War II film starring Tyrone Power, U.S.M.C.R. The film costars Dana Andrews and Anne Baxter, but this is the charismatic Power's movie all the way -- his last starring role before leaving Hollywood for real-life wartime service.

Power plays Lt. Ward Stewart, whose family has a proud history of service in the U.S. Navy. Ward regrets being transferred from PT boats to submarines, until he arrives at the submarine base in New London, Connecticut, and discovers that beautiful Jean Hewlett (Anne Baxter) lives in New London; Ward had fallen for Jean when they were both traveling through Washington, D.C. Unbeknownst to Ward, his new commanding officer, Dewey Connors (Dana Andrews), plans to propose to Jean.

That's half the story. The other half is comprised of very exciting submarine action sequences set in the North Atlantic. The sub's crew members include Harry Morgan, James Gleason, and Ben Carter; Carter is black and it was nice to see a film of this era depicting an integrated crew, especially as Carter teams with Gleason for some real heroics.

Another interesting side note is that Dana Andrews' kid brother, Steve Forrest, made his film debut in CRASH DIVE, appearing in a bit part as a sailor.

I liked a comment at IMDb which succinctly summed up the Power and Andrews characters: "Whether the target is an enemy ship or their common love interest, Tyrone Power's character always goes straight for the kill, and Dana Andrews' character tries to think a couple of moves ahead. Both of them are quite believable and watchable in those roles: Power's charm is obvious, and Andrews has a way of being outwardly undemonstrative but somehow putting across the impression of a lot going on inside." They are both excellent, though Andrews is definitely second fiddle in this particular film.

Baxter, unfortunately, is a bit stiff as Jean, as the script forces her to spend most of the movie huffily fending off Power, but her role warms up a bit in the film's second half.

The film was beautifully shot by one of the great masters of Technicolor, Leon Shamroy; you can read a bit more about Shamroy here. From the opening credits, filmed in Fox's vivid blue and red, to the last shot, this is a beautiful movie to watch -- especially as the majority of the scenes feature an actor who is widely acknowledged to be one of the handsomest men ever to appear in the movies.

The movie's authenticity is greatly enhanced by location shooting. There are a few location shots of Power on a PT boat mixed in with process shots, and shooting also took place at the submarine base in New London.

CRASH DIVE was released in the spring of 1943. The last scene segues into a stirring patriotic speech by Power about the importance of the navy, and ends with one of the classic on-screen reminders to buy war bonds. The patriotism is so sincere that it brings a tear to the eye, especially when one contrasts the sentiments expressed in the film with modern-day politicians who make it all too plain they're not proud of our country.

CRASH DIVE was directed by Archie Mayo. It runs 105 minutes. The supporting cast includes Dame May Whitty and Minor Watson as Power's relatives and Florence Lake as Baxter's roommate.

CRASH DIVE is available on DVD in the Fox War Classics series. The only extra is a trailer.

This film has also been released on VHS.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older