The Navy Comes Through

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The Navy Comes Through
Directed by A. Edward Sutherland
Produced by Islin Auster
Written by Borden Chase (story)
Earl Baldwin (adaptation)
John Twist (adaptation)
Roy Chanslor
Æneas MacKenzie
Starring Pat O'Brien
George Murphy
Jane Wyatt
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Nicholas Musuraca
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates
  • October 27, 1942 (1942-10-27) (San Francisco)[1]
  • October 30, 1942 (1942-10-30) (USA)
Running time
82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1.7 million (US rentals)[2]

The Navy Comes Through is a 1942 American World War II film directed by A. Edward Sutherland. It stars Pat O'Brien, George Murphy and Jane Wyatt. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (Vernon L. Walker, James G. Stewart).[3] The film was based on Borden Chase's 1939 short story Pay to Learn. The working titles of the film were Pay to Learn and Battle Stations. The film was the first RKO Pictures use of a new radio signal trademark that spelled out the word "victory." Prior to this, the studio's radio signal trademark spelled out "RKO."[4]


In 1940, the testimony of Chief Gunner's Mate Mike Mallory (Pat O'Brien) at a United States Navy Board of Inquiry regarding a fatal gun turret accident helps end the career of Lieutenant Tom Sands (George Murphy). The situation is complicated by the fact that Sands and Mallory's sister Myra (Jane Wyatt) are in love. Afterward, Sands resigns his commission and breaks up with Myra, telling her there is no future for them.

When the United States enters World War II, however, Sands joins as an enlisted man. By chance, he is assigned to Mallory, to their mutual displeasure. They and the rest of Mallory's men are disappointed to be assigned to man the guns of the freighter Sybil Gray. When Myra comes to see her brother off (though she is assigned to the same convoy as a Navy nurse), she encounters Sands, whom she had not seen since the inquiry.

On board, Coxswain G. Berringer (Max Baer) recognizes Sands, making him a pariah among the navy sailors. On the voyage to England, they are attacked by a German U-boat on the surface. They exchange fire, before the submarine is driven off by escorting warships. As Bayless is seriously injured, doctor Lieutenant Commander Murray and Myra are brought aboard. They remain on the ship to avoid delaying the convoy further. A near encounter with a German pocket battleship in the fog causes Sands to reveal that he still loves Myra.

Later, two German airplanes strafe and bomb the Sybil Gray. When Myra is knocked out by falling debris, Sands abandons his machine gun to carry her to safety. While he is gone, Berringer, the other sailor manning the gun, is fatally wounded. The two aircraft are shot down, but the sailors now believe that Sands is a coward.

When "Babe" Duttson's (Jackie Cooper) radio intercepts a German message, "Dutch" Croner (Carl Esmond) is able to interpret it. He informs Mallory that a German U-boat supply ship is nearby. Mallory persuades the freighter's captain to change course and capture the vessel. Unbeknownst to the Americans, the German captain has one of the torpedoes rigged to explode, but a suspicious Sands foils that scheme.

Then, with a ready supply of detonators, he suggests to Mallory that they load unsuspecting U-boats with booby-trapped torpedoes. As the only qualified navigator, Sands refuses to sail to Belfast, so Mallory has no choice but to agree. The plan goes without a hitch the first three times, blowing up enemy submarines, but an officer on the fourth recognizes Dutch as a famous anti-Nazi violinist. The two ships fire at each other, and another U-boat joins the battle. The Americans sink both submarines, but the hold of the supply ship is set on fire. When Mallory goes to deal with it during the fighting, he is overcome by the fumes. Sands rescues him. After the action, Sands questions Mallory about his actions during the battle that endangered their ship. Mallory admits it was a similar situation to what Sands resigned for when no one could prove his actions were correct. Returning to the United States, a Board of Inquiry is reconvened and Sands is reinstated as an officer.



Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times called the plot "hackneyed" but wrote that it was directed "with a good sense of melodramatic pace" and that the two lead actors played their roles well.[5] Variety wrote: "This is an actionful, exciting naval adventure with strong romantic interest ... The battle sequences are especially effective."[6] Harrison's Reports called it a "pretty good war melodrama ... Although the story is, at times, on the fanciful side, it has been presented in so thrilling a fashion that the interest never lags."[7] Film Daily reported: "Excellent masculine entertainment is offered by this thunderbolt of excitement."[8]

The film was a surprise hit and earned a profit of $542,000.[9]


"It's not your fault"- Myra
"It's not my fault, it's my responsibility; in the Navy that's the only thing that counts"- Tom

"In the US Navy you're not an officer because you're a gentleman, you're a gentleman because you're an officer; and you're an officer because you can perform any dirty job better than any enlisted man on the ship" - Tom quoting John Paul Jones


  1. ^ "The Navy Comes Through". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  2. ^ "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  3. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (November 12, 1942). "Movie Review: The Navy Comes Through". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Film reviews". Variety (New York: Variety, Inc.). October 14, 1942. p. 8. 
  7. ^ "'The Navy Comes Through', with Pat O'Brien and George Murphy". Harrison's Reports: 167. October 17, 1942. 
  8. ^ "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily (New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.): 6. October 15, 1942. 
  9. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p176

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