This Man's Navy

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This Man's Navy
This Man's Navy.jpg
Theatrical Poster
Directed by William A. Wellman
Starring Wallace Beery
Tom Drake
James Gleason
Jan Clayton
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
January 4, 1945
Running time
100 min.
Country United States
Language English

This Man's Navy (1945) is a World War II film about U.S. Navy airships starring Wallace Beery, Tom Drake, Jan Clayton and James Gleason, and directed by William A. Wellman. This film is one of the very few movies except training films to depict this military unit.[1]


During World War II, Chief Aviation Pilot Ned Trumpet (Wallace Beery) is in charge of a blimp at Lakehurst, New Jersey naval base. "Old Gas Bag" brags about his "son" and realizes that he will need someone to impersonate his fictional son. Trumpet finds Jess Weaver (Tom Drake), a young disabled man, arranging for an operation to fix his legs, injured in a riding accident. Afterward, Weaver goes along with the deception and soon earns his Navy wings and commission as an Ensign.

While on a submarine patrol mission, his "father" orders an unauthorized and premature attack on a German submarine, (orders have been sent to break off the attack, the "father" does not convey the orders) but the youngster's bomb misses and the submarine fires back, hitting the airship. Trumpet takes over the controls and sinks the submarine, but Weaver faces a court-martial for disobeying orders but the older man takes the blame for his actions. Young Weaver is awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, he gives the DFC ribbon to his "father." Leaving Lakehurst, young Weaver attends pilots training at NAS Pensacola.

Weaver transfers to the Ferry Command, and while on assignment in Burma, his aircraft crashes in Japanese territory. Trumpet rushes to the scene with a rescue team. Both are successfully brought out and are decorated for their heroism. Weaver indicates that he will be returning to the lighter-than-air service in Lakehurst, to reunite with his "father."



This Man's Navy was an example of Hollywood's relentless wartime efforts to portray all the fighting units of the U.S. military in a film.[2] Wallace Beery served in the U.S. Navy as a Commander and on his release, was instrumental in making a tribute to his former command.[3] Beery asked for and received complete cooperation from the U.S. Navy in making this film.[1]


Considered a Beery potboiler, This Man's Navy received a typical reaction from critics and public alike. The New York Times dismissed the film as pleasant fare but, "...while nominally a topical adventure, the film is largely devoted to Mr. Beery disporting himself as of yore. As a rough-hewn, golden-hearted chief petty officer in the Navy's blimp service, he is scarcely different from Beery the erstwhile marine, gob, etc."[4]


  1. ^ a b Hardwick and Schnepf 1989, p. 62.
  2. ^ Koppes and Black 1987, pp. 69, 115.
  3. ^ Heiser 2006, p. 74.
  4. ^ " 'This Man's Navy' Stars Wallace Beery at Globe." The New York Times, April 16, 1945. Retrieved: March 30, 2011.
  • Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies." The Making of the Great Aviation Films, General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.
  • Heiser, Wayne H. U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Aviation, V. I, 1916 - 1942 Chronology. McHenry, IL: Dihedral Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9778267-0-4.
  • Koppes, Clayton R. and Gregory D. Black. Hollywood Goes to War: How Politics, Profits and Propaganda Shaped World War II Movies. New York, The Free Press, 1987. ISBN 0-02-903550-3.
  • Wynne, H. Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 1987. ISBN 0-933126-85-9.

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