Stand by for Action (1943)

109 mins | Drama | February 1943

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HISTORY

Working titles of the film were Cargo of Innocence , A Cargo of Innocents , Men O'War , Clear for Action , Navy Convoy , This Man's Navy and Pacific Task Force . According to M-G-M production records, the film was released in a Dec 1942--Feb 1943 package, although the picture appears to have been shown only at "premiere" venues prior to Jan 1943. A brief opening montage is narrated by M-G-M advertising and exploitation executive Frank Whitbeck, who provided the "voice" for many M-G-M's trailers. HR news items reveal the following information about the production: In Nov 1941, the film, which was initially known as Cargo of Innocence , was set for production at M-G-M's facilities in England, to star Robert Donat and Edmund Gwenn and to be directed by Clarence Brown. By early Dec 1941, "uncertain production possibilities" due to the war in Europe resulted in the studio's decision to move the film to Hollywood, with some backgrounds and "extraneous cover-up shots" to be made in England. At that time, the film was to have an Atlantic Ocean setting and deal with the British Navy. By Mar 1942, following American entry into the war, the production was planned as a total Hollywood shoot, and the setting was changed to the Pacific Ocean, featuring the American Navy.
       Additional news items note that Stand By for Action , which was M-G-M's first naval picture of World War II, was filmed in cooperation with the U.S. Navy. Barry Nelson, who was not in the released film, was to have appeared in ... More Less

Working titles of the film were Cargo of Innocence , A Cargo of Innocents , Men O'War , Clear for Action , Navy Convoy , This Man's Navy and Pacific Task Force . According to M-G-M production records, the film was released in a Dec 1942--Feb 1943 package, although the picture appears to have been shown only at "premiere" venues prior to Jan 1943. A brief opening montage is narrated by M-G-M advertising and exploitation executive Frank Whitbeck, who provided the "voice" for many M-G-M's trailers. HR news items reveal the following information about the production: In Nov 1941, the film, which was initially known as Cargo of Innocence , was set for production at M-G-M's facilities in England, to star Robert Donat and Edmund Gwenn and to be directed by Clarence Brown. By early Dec 1941, "uncertain production possibilities" due to the war in Europe resulted in the studio's decision to move the film to Hollywood, with some backgrounds and "extraneous cover-up shots" to be made in England. At that time, the film was to have an Atlantic Ocean setting and deal with the British Navy. By Mar 1942, following American entry into the war, the production was planned as a total Hollywood shoot, and the setting was changed to the Pacific Ocean, featuring the American Navy.
       Additional news items note that Stand By for Action , which was M-G-M's first naval picture of World War II, was filmed in cooperation with the U.S. Navy. Barry Nelson, who was not in the released film, was to have appeared in the production. Although a multi-city "world premiere" took place on New Year's Eve, 1941, news items variously reported that early Dec 1941 screenings had taken place for naval officers on Treasure and Mare Islands, CA and a 23 Dec 1941 premiere was scheduled for either Toledo or Cleveland, OH. The film did not receive good reviews either from the civilian or military press. Sgt. Bill Davidson, who reviewed films for Yank magazine, said that it was "not about The War, but about Hollywood's War." Other critics compared it unfavorably with the British naval drama In Which We Serve , which had opened in the United States a short time prior to the release of Stand By for Action . A. Arnold Gillespie, Dan Jahraus and Michael Steinore received an Academy Award nomination for special effects for the film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Dec 1942.
---
Daily Variety
9 Dec 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Dec 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jul 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Dec 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Mar 42
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 May 42
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 42
pp. 3-4.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 42
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Oct 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Dec 42
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 43
p. 1.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Dec 42
p. 1053.
New York Times
12 Mar 43
p. 12.
San Francisco Chronicle
31 Dec 1942.
---
Variety
9 Dec 42
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Orig story
Suggested by the story "A Cargo of Innocence" by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
Re-rec and eff mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Navy Convoy
A Cargo of Innocents
Men O' War
This Man's Navy
Release Date:
February 1943
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Boston, MA
Providence, RI
Washington, D.C.
Chicago, IL
Norfolk, VA
San Diego and San Francisco, CA: 31 December 1942
Production Date:
8 June--early August 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 December 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11764
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
109
Length(in feet):
9,795
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
8801
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

At a West Coast Naval base, just after America's entry into World War II, Harvard-educated Lieut. Gregg Masterman, aide to Rear Admiral Stephan "Iron Pants" Thomas, incurs the ire of up-from-the ranks officer Lieut. Comdr. Martin J. Roberts because Roberts thinks Masterman is delaying his ship's return to sea. When Roberts goes to Thomas to complain, Thomas recognizes Roberts from their World War I service and assigns him to be skipper of the "mothball" destroyer the U.S.S. Warren . That night, Masterman is chagrined to learn that Thomas has made him Roberts' executive officer. Masterman goes to see Roberts on the Warren and encounters former chief yeoman Henry Johnson, who had served on the ship during World War I, and has been her civilian caretaker. Johnson enthuses both officers about the decaying Warren when he tells them the ship's proud history, but they remain cool to each other, especially after Roberts tells Johnson he cannot serve again because the war will be "too tough for grey hairs." Roberts warns Masterman that sentiment has no place when making life and death decisions, but on his way out, Masterman suggests to Johnson that without grey hair, he would look much younger. On the first day at sea, a now dark-haired Johnson is in the ranks, having obtained Masterman's help in getting back into the Navy. Despite their differences, as the voyage gets underway, Roberts and Masterman gain respect for each other. Meanwhile, Thomas is reassigned to head a Navy convoy and summons the Warren to replace one ... +


At a West Coast Naval base, just after America's entry into World War II, Harvard-educated Lieut. Gregg Masterman, aide to Rear Admiral Stephan "Iron Pants" Thomas, incurs the ire of up-from-the ranks officer Lieut. Comdr. Martin J. Roberts because Roberts thinks Masterman is delaying his ship's return to sea. When Roberts goes to Thomas to complain, Thomas recognizes Roberts from their World War I service and assigns him to be skipper of the "mothball" destroyer the U.S.S. Warren . That night, Masterman is chagrined to learn that Thomas has made him Roberts' executive officer. Masterman goes to see Roberts on the Warren and encounters former chief yeoman Henry Johnson, who had served on the ship during World War I, and has been her civilian caretaker. Johnson enthuses both officers about the decaying Warren when he tells them the ship's proud history, but they remain cool to each other, especially after Roberts tells Johnson he cannot serve again because the war will be "too tough for grey hairs." Roberts warns Masterman that sentiment has no place when making life and death decisions, but on his way out, Masterman suggests to Johnson that without grey hair, he would look much younger. On the first day at sea, a now dark-haired Johnson is in the ranks, having obtained Masterman's help in getting back into the Navy. Despite their differences, as the voyage gets underway, Roberts and Masterman gain respect for each other. Meanwhile, Thomas is reassigned to head a Navy convoy and summons the Warren to replace one of his damaged vessels. On the way, the Warren is attacked by a Japanese plane, which then manages to get away, in part because of a mistake Masterman and his men make. Masterman blames himself, but Roberts tells him not to be too hard on himself. A short time later, a violent storm arises, during which Johnson is knocked unconscious. When pharmacist's mate "Doc" Miller says that the pounding sea might hinder Johnson's recovery, Masterman reduces the ship's speed, against the captain's orders. Roberts reverses Masterman's decision and warns him that command means making unpopular decisions. Nearing Thomas' convey, the Warren encounters a lifeboat occupied by two women and twenty infants, survivors of a torpedoed rescue ship. One of the women is about to give birth and, as there is no doctor on board, carpenter's mate "Chips," whose wife is a nurse, helps with the delivery. As the ship reaches the convoy, sailors in the Warren 's "baby division" take their charges on deck for some sun. Looking through binoculars, from their ship, the Chattanooga , Thomas and his officers see a naked baby crawling on deck of the Warren and mistake it for a pig. Soon set straight by communiques from Roberts, Thomas congratulates them on their successful "launch" of the new baby. Now the other female on board, Mrs. Collins, goes into labor, but is having a very difficult time. Masterman wants to transfer her to the Chattanooga , because there is a doctor on board, but Roberts refuses because both ships would have to stop. Thomas, who is also worried about the newest "launch," recalls a British naval tradition from the days when women accompanied their husbands to sea, whereby difficult births were helped along by cannon fire. Just then, Japanese planes from an approaching carrier bomb the Chattanooga , destroying its rudder and making it go in circles in the fog. As the Warren joins the battle, Roberts is hit and temporarily relinquishes command to Masterman. Now that Masterman is in charge, he, too, realizes that decisions must be based on the need of the ship, not sentiment. During a fierce battle, Johnson, who has recovered, rises from his bed and helps the Warren destroy the Japanese battleship, and Mrs. Collins gives birth to a healthy baby boy. Some time later, when the convoy arrives in San Francisco, the Chattanooga is towed by the Warren , after which Roberts, Masterman and Johnson are each awarded the Navy Cross. When the Warren returns to sea, Roberts and Masterman contentedly stroll the deck together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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