Away All Boats
|Away All Boats|
|Directed by||Joseph Pevney|
|Written by||Ted Sherdeman|
|Based on||novel by Kenneth M. Dodson|
|Produced by||Howard Christie|
|Cinematography||William H. Daniels|
in Technicolor and VistaVision
|Edited by||Ted J. Kent|
|Music by||Frank Skinner |
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$3.5 million (US)|
Away All Boats is a 1956 American war film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Jeff Chandler, George Nader, Lex Barker, and Julie Adams. It was produced by Howard Christie from a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman based on the 1953 novel by Kenneth M. Dodson (1907–1999), who served on the USS Pierce (APA-50) in World War II and used his experiences there as a guide for his novel. He was encouraged in his writing by Carl Sandburg, who had read some of Dodson’s letters, written in the Pacific. The book (and film) is about the crew of the Belinda (APA-22), an amphibious attack transport. The book became a best seller. The film was produced by Universal Pictures.
The story of USS Belinda (APA-22), launched late 1943 with regular-Navy Captain Jebediah S. Hawks (Jeff Chandler) and ex-merchant marine Lieutenant Dave MacDougall (George Nader) as boat commander. Despite personal friction, the two have plenty with which to deal as the only experienced officers on board during the ship's shakedown cruise. Almost laughable incompetence gradually improves, but the crew remains far from perfect when the ship sees action, landing troops on enemy beachheads. Few anticipate the challenges in store at Okinawa.
- Jeff Chandler as Capt. Jebediah S. Hawks
- George Nader as Lieut. Dave MacDougall
- Lex Barker as Commander Quigley
- Julie Adams as Nadine MacDougall
- Keith Andes as Doctor Bell
- William Reynolds as Ensign Kruger
- Richard Boone as Lieut. Fraser
- Charles McGraw as Lieut. Mike O'Bannion
- Jock Mahoney as Alvick
- Hal Baylor as Chaplain Hughes
- John McIntire as Old Man / Film's narrator
- Frank Faylen as Chief Phillip P. 'Pappy' Moran
- James Westerfield as 'Boats' Torgeson
- Don Keefer as Ensign Twitchell
George Nader had twice taken roles that Chandler refused. This was the first time the two actors had worked together.
The armed services had not been pleased with their portrayal in From Here to Eternity or The Caine Mutiny. However the Navy was worried about declining recruitment numbers and Universal received its full cooperation for the film, including an opportunity to photograph maneuvers and mock attacks in March 1955 in the Caribbean and on Vieques. The movie was filmed aboard USS Randall. It is most notable for its realistic and terrifying depictions of Japanese kamikaze attacks on U.S. Navy ships during the last year of World War II in the Pacific Theater. The kamikaze attack scene was later reused in the 1976 film Midway.
The Navy also granted a two-week leave of absence for Ralph Scalzo, a landing boat coxswain, who took part in filming in the Caribbean and was needed for added closeup shots in Hollywood.
Clint Eastwood's role is a brief speaking one (with one line of dialog spoken by another actor), as a Navy medical corpsman assisting the ship's captain after he is severely wounded while trying to save his ship.
The script, script revisions, and status reports dealing with the Department of Defense Film and Television liaison office is kept in the Georgetown University Library Department of Defense Film Collection.
A review in The New York Times by Bosley Crowther found the early scenes in the film confusing, particularly the motivation of the characters played by Jeff Chandler (Captain Jebediah Hawks) and Lex Barker (Commander Quigley). He also found it an efficient service film in which “all the confusions are adjusted and everybody comes out a hero in the end”.
A record with some of Frank Skinner’s music from the film was released by Decca Records in May 1956. Participants included Al Hibbler (who sang a theme from the film score) and an orchestra conducted by Jack Pleis. Decca released this on 78 rpm 29950 and 45 rpm 9-29950.
- Holmes Alexander (27 April 1955). "Navy Tries to Increase Allure of Enlistment". Los Angeles Times.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, 2 January 1957
- Carl Sandburg (28 February 1954). "Sandburg Rates 'Away Boats' With Greatest of Sea Stories: Crew, Ship and GIs Aboard Form Composite Hero of War II Saga". Los Angeles Times.
- "Best Seller List". The New York Times. 21 March 1954.
- Irene Elwood (15 August 1954). "Always Fascinated By Sea: Letters Home Started Dodson on His Novel, 'Away All Boats'". Los Angeles Times.
- Edwin Schallert (8 March 1954). "Drama: 'Away All Boats' Bought; Lindbergh Deal Closed; 'Stairway to Moon' Set". Los Angeles Times.
- Hedda Hopper (24 November 1954). "Abbott and Costello Will Costar on Raft". Los Angeles Times.
- Thomas M. Pryor (21 February 1955). "Actor To Relive Incident Of War: Philip Carey Again Will Be Aboard Carrier 'Bombed' for 'Battle Stations'". The New York Times.
- Louella Parsons (24 March 1955). "George, Jeff Land in Same Boat". The Washington Post and Times Herald.
- "USS WASHOE COUNTY (LST-1165) Deployments & History".
- Mooney, James L., editor, The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume IV, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1976, Library of Congress card number 60-60198, p. 304.
- Thomas M. Pryor (3 June 1955). "Peggy Lee Signs 3-Film Contract: Gets Pact From Jack Webb Because of Her Work in 'Pete Kelly's Blues'". The New York Times.
- Universal Pictures Co. The Wall Street Journal, 28 March 1955: 22.
- "N. B. C.-TV To Film 2 Shows In Color: Network Will Make 10 More Kinescopes if 'Matinee' Productions Succeed". The New York Times. 6 September 1955.
- Dodson, Kenneth. Away All Boats, Little, Brown and Company, December 1953.
- Crowther, Bosley. “Screen: Away All Boats”, The New York Times, August 17, 1956, p. 14.
- Shenk, Robert; “Away All Boats” in Jill B. Gidmark. Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes. p. 26, Greenwood, 2001. (A description of the novel on which the movie was based).
- Away All Boats at IMDb
- Away all Boats at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Away All Boats at the TCM Movie Database
- Away All Boats at Letterboxd