In Harm's Way
|In Harm's Way|
Film poster by Saul Bass
|Directed by||Otto Preminger|
|Produced by||Otto Preminger|
|Written by||James Bassett (novel)
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||George Tomasini
Hugh S. Fowler
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||165 minutes|
|Box office||$4,500,000 (US/ Canada rentals)|
In Harm's Way is a 1965 American epic war film produced and directed by Otto Preminger and starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Stanley Holloway, Burgess Meredith, Brandon deWilde, Jill Haworth, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda.
It was the last black-and-white World War II epic and the last black-and-white John Wayne film. It received a mixed response over the years as a war story that had a simple story, a charge leveled against Preminger's later movies, starting with this one. The screenplay was written by Wendell Mayes based on the novel Harm's Way by James Bassett.
The film recounts the lives of several US naval officers and their wives or lovers while based in Hawaii as the US involvement in World War II begins. The title of the film comes from a quote from American Revolutionary naval hero John Paul Jones: "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."
||This section reads like a review rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (December 2011)|
John Wayne stars as U.S. Navy Captain Rockwell "Rock" Torrey, a divorced "second generation Navy" son of a career Chief Petty Officer. A Naval Academy graduate and career officer, Torrey is removed from command of his heavy cruiser for "throwing away the book" when pursuing the enemy and then being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. After several months of desk duty ashore in Hawaii and recuperation from a broken arm he suffered in the attack on his cruiser, he is promoted to Rear Admiral and given a crucial mission early in 1943 requiring the same sort of guts and gallantry he previously displayed as commanding officer of his cruiser.
Though it makes use of the same heroic persona that Wayne displayed in his Westerns, this one is very much restrained under Otto Preminger's direction. We learn more of the character's human qualities: his estrangement from his son, now an Ensign in the Naval Reserve (played by Brandon deWilde), and his romance with a divorced Navy Nurse Corps Lieutenant (played by Patricia Neal), which brings out his yearning for a stable emotional anchor in his life. The Wayne/Neal relationship forms the emotional crux of the movie, and the two stars give sensitive performances.
There are subplots involving characters played by Kirk Douglas and Tom Tryon, who offer differing portraits of two other career naval officers associated with Torrey's command. Douglas portrays Commander, later Captain, Paul Eddington, a wayward sort of career officer who has resigned as a Naval Aviator and returned to the Surface Navy because of an unhappy marriage. His wife's numerous "love" affairs and drunken escapades have become the talk of Honolulu and her death during the Pearl Harbor attack – in the company of an Army Air Corps Officer (Hugh O'Brian), with whom she just had a wild fling on a local beach – drives Eddington into a bar brawl, a stint in the Brig, and exile as the "...officer in charge of piers and warehouses..." in what he calls a "backwater island purgatory." He is reprieved by Torrey and assigned as his Chief of Staff, but his instability drives him to the rape of Navy Nurse Annalee Dohrn (Jill Haworth) who is engaged to Torrey's son. The traumatized nurse, fearing she might be pregnant, commits suicide with an overdose of sleeping pills. As the truth is about to be revealed, Eddington (a qualified Naval Aviator) requisitions a PBJ patrol bomber and flies solo on an unauthorized reconnaissance flight to locate elements of the Japanese fleet. He goes down to a fiery death in a redeeming act of sacrifice, finding and giving advance warning of the huge Yamato battleship task force on its way to blast Torrey's much smaller force off the islands. Tryon portrays Lieutenant, junior grade, later Lieutenant and Lieutenant Commander, William "Mack" McConnell, a conventional type of young surface naval officer only a few years removed from the Naval Academy, with a characteristic Navy wife of the period (played by Paula Prentiss), who is ever solicitious and faithful, a true family man with an enviable marriage, in stark contrast to Eddington's almost tragic and isolated figure.
The film presents a relatively unromanticized and realistic picture of the American Navy and its officers in the period before and shortly after the start of World War II, complete with bureaucratic infighting among the brass and sometimes disreputable private acts by individuals. Its sprawling narrative is typical of Preminger's works in which he examined institutions and the people who run them (such as the American Congress and the Presidency in Advise and Consent, the Catholic Church in The Cardinal and the British Intelligence Service in The Human Factor).
- John Wayne as Captain Rockwell W. "Rock" Torrey USN, CO of a heavy cruiser referred to as Old Swayback (and represented in the film by the USS Saint Paul (CA-73)); afterwards Rear Admiral Rockwell W. Torrey, USN, "operational commander" of "Operation Skyhook."
- Kirk Douglas as Commander Paul Eddington, USN, a former Naval Aviator who has resigned from Naval Aviation due to marital problems; executive officer of Old Swayback under Captain Torrey; later, as Captain Paul Eddington, Admiral Torrey's first Chief of Staff
- Patricia Neal as Lieutenant Maggie Haines, Nurse Corps, USNR, a Navy nurse and Rock Torrey's love interest
- Tom Tryon as Lieutenant (jg) William "Mac" McConnell, USN, appearing first as Officer of the Deck aboard the destroyer USS Cassidy, which McConnell sorties from anchorage during the Pearl Harbor attack without the CO or XO and joins up on Captain Torrey's cruiser; afterwards Lieutenant then Lieutenant Commander William "Mac" McConnell, Flag Secretary in Admiral Torrey's command. "Mac" had known Admiral Torrey when the latter was an instructor at the United States Naval Academy.
- Paula Prentiss as Beverly McConnell, "Mac" McConnell's wife, who works briefly as a civil defense aircraft spotter near Pearl Harbor
- Stanley Holloway as Clayton Canfil, previously an Australian planter, but who now runs a system of native coastwatchers on the island of Gavabutu and later undertakes a hazardous reconnaissance of the target island of Levu-Vana
- Brandon deWilde as Ensign (later Lieutenant, junior grade) Jeremiah Torrey, USNR, Rock Torrey's estranged son temporarily on Admiral Broderick's staff who later reconciles with his father and returns to duty as executive officer of a PT boat
- Jill Haworth as Ensign Annalee Dohrn, Nurse Corps, USNR, Navy nurse, Maggie Haines' roommate, and ENS/LTJG Jeremiah Torrey's girlfriend/fiancee
- Dana Andrews as Vice Admiral B. T. "Blackjack" Broderick, USN, Area Commander, Southwest Pacific Area Three
- Burgess Meredith as Commander Egan T. Powell, USNR, Admiral Torrey's Intelligence Officer and confidante. Powell is portrayed as a Naval Reservist recalled to active duty who is a Hollywood screenwriter in civilian life and has been married to...and divorced from...several Hollywood actresses. Meredith's character is based on Commander (later Rear Admiral) Gene Markey, USNR, a good friend of John Wayne's in real life.
- Franchot Tone as Admiral Husband Kimmel, USN (listed as "CINCPAC I"), Commander-in-Chief Pacific during the attack on Pearl Harbor
- Patrick O'Neal as Commander (and former United States Congressman) Neal Owynn, USNR, Admiral Broderick's Public Affairs Officer and briefly, a liaison officer between Admirals Broderick and Torrey
- George Kennedy as Lieutenant Colonel Gregory, USMC, commanding a parachute-capable Marine Corps battalion
- Carroll O'Connor as Commander, later Captain Burke; initially the Operations Officer of Captain Torrey's cruiser, the "Old Swayback", and later her Commanding Officer when Rear Admiral Torrey returns, making "Old Swayback" his flagship. O'Connor's character was based on Captain (later Admiral) Arleigh Burke
- Barbara Bouchet as Liz Eddington, Paul Eddington's faithless wife; killed in an automobile accident on December 7, 1941 with an Army Air Corps major she previously seduced, while fleeing a strafing run by Japanese planes in the attack on Pearl Harbor
- Hugh O'Brian (uncredited) as a Major in the US Army Air Corps and fighter pilot who is Liz Eddington's lover while CDR Paul Eddington is at sea, and is driving the car that kills them both
- Bruce Cabot as Chief Petty Officer Quoddy, USN, chief quartermaster aboard the USS Cassidy
- Slim Pickens as Chief Petty Officer Culpeper, USN, chief boatswain's mate aboard the USS Cassidy
- James Mitchum as Ensign Griggs, USN, a young engineering officer aboard "Old Swayback"
- Larry Hagman as Lieutenant (jg) Cline, USN, Communications Officer aboard the USS Cassidy
- Henry Fonda as Admiral Chester Nimitz, USN (listed as "CINCPAC II"), Commander-in-Chief Pacific during the rest of the war. Fonda would portray Nimitz a second time, this time under the admiral's name, in the film Midway in the mid-1970s
- Al Romeo as Convoy Routing Office staff
Background and production 
It has been speculated that Wayne's lowkey performance was due to the fact that he was seriously ill with lung cancer when the film was made. Shortly after filming ended in August 1964 he was diagnosed with the disease  and a month later underwent surgery to remove his entire left lung and two ribs. Co-star Franchot Tone was soon to develop lung cancer and died of the disease in September 1968.
Many of the non-military costumes and hairstyles worn by the women throughout the film were contemporary to the mid-1960s period during which the film was made, rather than of the early 1940s. This is particularly noticeable at the dance which opens the film. Many of the extras in this scene were, in fact, active duty officers and their spouses assigned to various commands in Oahu.
The film was shot in black-and-white by Loyal Griggs, who composed his scenes in the scope format often using deep focus (Griggs was nominated for a Best Cinematographer Academy Award for his work). Jerry Goldsmith's musical score is also notable, as is the work of Saul Bass in the credit titles sequence (this sequence actually comes at the very end of the film, an interesting departure from the norm in a major Hollywood production at the time).
The film received extensive cooperation from the Department of Defense, especially the US Navy and the US Marine Corps. Though at the time of the filming (late 1963–1964), very few ships in active Navy service resembled their WW-2 configuration, and the only WW-2 vintage heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul (CA 73) in the role of the straw bottom cruiser (referred to only as the "old swayback"), and an accompanying destroyer, USS Philip (DD-498), that took on the role USS Cassidy were extensively filmed on. Other US Navy ships that participated include destroyers USS Braine (DD 630), USS O'Bannon (DD 450), USS Renshaw (DD 499), USS Walker (DD 517), submarine USS Capitaine (SS 336) and the attack transport USS Renville (APA 227). All of the destroyers had to have their modern (1960s) ASW gear covered over with fake gun-mounts or deck houses. Additional smaller vessels were provided in support, as well as an HU-16 Albatross amphibious aircraft, even though said aircraft did not enter the US inventory until 1949. The HU-16 likely substitutes for a PBY Catalina, of which no flyable examples were likely available for the film schedule.
Another anachronism is the widespread use of the M151 MUTT light utility vehicle as a World War II jeep instead of the World War II-era Willys MB and/or Ford GPW, the M151 having not even entered production until 1959. Also used were a few 1950s vintage 63 ft USCG rescue launches that were made over to resemble Elco 80 ft torpedo boats, as the few that existed were not available for use.
The climactic battle with the Japanese fleet was staged mostly with model ships. Kirk Douglas thought the special effects poor and complained bitterly to both the director and the studio about it. He offered to re-stage the scenes at his own expense using the special effects people who worked with him on Paths of Glory.
Other ongoings that went down during the filming included Kirk Douglas being allowed to hold Yom Kippur services for Jewish Naval Officers who were extras on the set and a clash between director Preminger and actor Tom Tryon which climaxed when Preminger screamed behind Tryon "RELAX!!" The stars of the film successfully talked Tryon into staying with the film: he almost quit.
In Harm's Way was nominated for the 1965 Academy Award for Cinematography (Black-and-White) for cinematographer Loyal Griggs. It was also screened at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.
Bosley Crowther of the New York Times panned the film observing, "This is a slick and shallow picture that Mr. Preminger puts forth here, a straight, cliché-crowded melodrama of naval action in the Pacific in World War II..." and characterized it as "a film that is virtually awash with flimsy and flamboyant fellows with all the tricks of the trade of Hollywood."
See also 
- This figure consists of anticipated rentals accruing distributors in North America. See "Big Rental Pictures of 1965", Variety, 5 January 1966 p 6
- Variety film review; March 31, 1965, page 6.
- "In Harm's Way: Articles". In Harm's Way. Turner Classic Movies.
- Awards database
- "Festival de Cannes: In Harm's Way". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
- Allmovie Awards
- Crowther, Bosley (April 7, 1965). "Movie Review – In Harm's Way". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
- In Harm's Way at the Internet Movie Database
- In Harm's Way at the TCM Movie Database
- In Harm's Way at AllRovi