Up Periscope (1959)

111 mins | Drama | 9 February 1959

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HISTORY

The onscreen opening credits erroneously listed film editor John F. Schreyer as John E. Schreyer. Appearing after the film is a written acknowledgment thanking the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy and the officers and men of the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet for their cooperation. During the Kusaie Island sequence, "Ken's" memory of the night of his proposal to "Sally" is shown in flashback. About the ending, in which the crew's friends cheer them into the harbor, the otherwise favorable Var review stated that it "seems a little unbelievable, considering it's wartime."
       According to a Mar 1958 HR news item, Tab Hunter was set to appear in the film, providing that it did not conflict with the schedule of Damn Yankees (See Entry), in which he had already been cast, and that Howard W. Koch, who was co-producer of the final film, would direct. An Apr 1958 HR news item reported that Koch and his co-producer Aubrey Schenk had planned to shoot the film in Technirama in Hawaii. According to a Jul 1958 LAMirror-News article, portions of the film were shot at sea on the Pacific aboard the submarine USS Tilefish . The HR review reported that the film was shot "on expensive locations in the Pacific.
       An Aug 1957 DV news item reported that the rights to Robb White's novel Up Periscope were purchased by the "producing trio" of Edwin F. Zabel, Koch and Schenk and that White was to write the screenplay. However, White is not credited as writer onscreen and the extent of is ... More Less

The onscreen opening credits erroneously listed film editor John F. Schreyer as John E. Schreyer. Appearing after the film is a written acknowledgment thanking the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy and the officers and men of the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet for their cooperation. During the Kusaie Island sequence, "Ken's" memory of the night of his proposal to "Sally" is shown in flashback. About the ending, in which the crew's friends cheer them into the harbor, the otherwise favorable Var review stated that it "seems a little unbelievable, considering it's wartime."
       According to a Mar 1958 HR news item, Tab Hunter was set to appear in the film, providing that it did not conflict with the schedule of Damn Yankees (See Entry), in which he had already been cast, and that Howard W. Koch, who was co-producer of the final film, would direct. An Apr 1958 HR news item reported that Koch and his co-producer Aubrey Schenk had planned to shoot the film in Technirama in Hawaii. According to a Jul 1958 LAMirror-News article, portions of the film were shot at sea on the Pacific aboard the submarine USS Tilefish . The HR review reported that the film was shot "on expensive locations in the Pacific.
       An Aug 1957 DV news item reported that the rights to Robb White's novel Up Periscope were purchased by the "producing trio" of Edwin F. Zabel, Koch and Schenk and that White was to write the screenplay. However, White is not credited as writer onscreen and the extent of is contribution to the final film has not been determined. An Aug 1957 LAT news item reported that Tony Curtis was sought for the lead role. Joanna Barnes was considered a “strong contender” for a lead role in the film, according to a Jun 1958 HR news item, and is listed in an HR production chart. However, neither Barnes, Curtis, nor Hunter appear in the film.
       The following actors were added to the cast by Jul and Aug HR news items, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed: Jan Brooks, Roger Smith, Fay Roope and Fugi Kawada. Appearing in the nightclub scene was Peggy Moffitt, an actress/fashion model who played in a handful of films over eleven years, beginning with the 1955 Paramount production, You're Never Too Young (See Entry). Moffitt was better known in the mid-1960s for modeling the topless swimsuit which was designed by Rudi Gernreich and photographed by William Claxton, who became her husband. ^Up Periscope marked the motion picture debut of Rian Garrick.
       After completion of Up Periscope , according to an Aug 1958 HR news item, Frank Gifford, who played “Mount” in the film, was given a six-month leave of absence from Warner Bros. to attend the New York Giants training camp in Salem, OR. Gifford did not appear in a feature film again until 1968, when he played himself in Paper Lion . A USC All-American player in the early 1950s who marked his film debut and served as technical director and trainer in the 1953 U-I film, All-American (See Entry), Gifford became a star running back and, later, flanker, for the Giants. In 1956, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. After his retirement from football in the mid-1960s, he became a sportscaster, most memorably on Monday Night Football , on ABC-TV from 1971--1998. Besides the handful of films in which he appeared during the 1950s, Gifford continues to appear in television and in films, usually as himself.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Feb 1959.
---
Daily Variety
20 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
2 May 1958.
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
11 Feb 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jun 1958
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 1958
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 1958
p. 4, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jul 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1958
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1958
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1958
p. 4, 12.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 59
p. 3.
LA MIrror-News
22 Jul 1958
pp. 6-7.
LA MIrror-News
23 Jul 1958.
---
LA MIrror-News
5 Mar 1959.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
5 Mar 1959
Section I, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
20 Aug 1957.
---
Los Angeles Times
22 Feb 1959.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Mar 1959.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Feb 59
p. 156.
New York Times
5 Mar 59
p. 35.
Variety
11 Feb 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Transportation gaffer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Up Periscope by Robb White (Garden City, NY, 1956).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 February 1959
Production Date:
early July--late August 1958
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. & Lakeside Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 February 1959
Copyright Number:
LP15454
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
WarnerScope
Duration(in mins):
111
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19139
SYNOPSIS

In the South Pacific, in 1942, Capt. Paul Stevenson, commander of the submarine USS Barracuda , orders the ship to remain concealed long after a convoy of Japanese ships passes over them, rather than risk a skirmish with a straggling ship. His action delays the hospitalization of Ford, a crewman injured in a torpedo room accident who subsequently dies. However, Stevenson believes he acted in accordance with regulations by not alerting the enemy to the American presence in that area of the sea, thus ensuring that the plans for an impending Allied invasion have not been jeopardized. Meanwhile, in San Diego, California, Lt. j.g. Kenneth M. Braden graduates from the Navy’s Underwater Demolition School and falls in love with Sally Johnson, unaware that she is a WAVE assigned to Naval Intelligence and has been ordered to check his suitability for a special mission. When he proposes to her after an acquaintance of only nine days, Sally, who has also fallen for Ken, avoids answering him. That evening, Ken is ordered to fly to Honolulu’s Pearl Harbor immediately. In a nightclub there, he encounters members of the Barracuda ’s crew, who are celebrating the completion of a fifty-seven-day tour of duty spent mostly underwater and, at the same time, mourning the death of their friend, for which they blame Stevenson. The crew’s “freedom” ends prematurely when Phil Carney, the ... +


In the South Pacific, in 1942, Capt. Paul Stevenson, commander of the submarine USS Barracuda , orders the ship to remain concealed long after a convoy of Japanese ships passes over them, rather than risk a skirmish with a straggling ship. His action delays the hospitalization of Ford, a crewman injured in a torpedo room accident who subsequently dies. However, Stevenson believes he acted in accordance with regulations by not alerting the enemy to the American presence in that area of the sea, thus ensuring that the plans for an impending Allied invasion have not been jeopardized. Meanwhile, in San Diego, California, Lt. j.g. Kenneth M. Braden graduates from the Navy’s Underwater Demolition School and falls in love with Sally Johnson, unaware that she is a WAVE assigned to Naval Intelligence and has been ordered to check his suitability for a special mission. When he proposes to her after an acquaintance of only nine days, Sally, who has also fallen for Ken, avoids answering him. That evening, Ken is ordered to fly to Honolulu’s Pearl Harbor immediately. In a nightclub there, he encounters members of the Barracuda ’s crew, who are celebrating the completion of a fifty-seven-day tour of duty spent mostly underwater and, at the same time, mourning the death of their friend, for which they blame Stevenson. The crew’s “freedom” ends prematurely when Phil Carney, the Barracuda ’s “exec” officer, announces that leave has been canceled. The next morning, Ken is taken to the Barracuda , where Stevenson tells Ken that the Navy has discovered a Japanese radio station on the small island of Kusaie, where messages are broadcast in code to other Japanese in the South Seas. So far, the Allies have been unable to break the code, which would allow them to know the enemy’s plans, send false information and set up decoys and traps, all of which would assist their invasion and save lives. Stevenson, Phil and Ken have been ordered to embark upon a clandestine operation in which the Barracuda is to take Ken to the waters around Kusaie, from where he will swim ashore. He is then to find and photograph the Japanese code book, without raising the enemy’s suspicion that the code has reached Allied hands. Because he feels that sailing into the island’s lagoon will endanger the vessel and its crew, Stevenson tells Ken that he must swim 2,000 yards to shore through dangerous coral reefs. Angry at what he perceives is the captain’s lack of cooperation, Ken accuses him of endangering others with his “by the book” methods. However, despite his seemingly strict façade, Stevenson is troubled by the crewman’s death and the crew’s anger at him, and confides his distress to Phil, the only person on board who is sympathetic to his dilemma. To reach their destination faster, Stevenson orders the sub to sail “topside,” i.e., on the water’s surface, making them visible to a Japanese Zero, which attacks them. Before the men can get below deck and submerge the ship, Phil and several other crew members are shot. Although most of the men descend to safety below deck, Phil is stranded topside. Looking through the periscope, Stevenson sees that Phil has been shot again and, believing him dead, orders the submarine to submerge to the safety of deep water. Stevenson then promotes Doherty to Phil’s position. After eluding the plane, Stevenson is forced to take the sub to the surface for repairs. As Ken has special underwater training, he is chosen to swim below the craft to make repairs and is told that he will be considered “expendable” if the sub is attacked again. Just as Ken completes his task, a Japanese plane returns for them. Ensign Pat Malone shoots the plane down, but the crewmen assume that the pilot alerted others to their location before dying. When a Japanese destroyer approaches, Stevenson has the men pump oil into the water and fakes an explosion to give the impression that the sub is “dead.” After the ship is lured toward them, the gunners fire torpedoes and sink it. Afterward, Malone learns that he has been promoted to lieutenant. By traveling below a Japanese ship, Stevenson is able to take the sub into Kusaie’s lagoon, lessening the distance Ken must swim. However, the air supply of the submarine is low and cannot be replenished without revealing their location, so Stevenson gives Ken a deadline of eighteen hours to complete his task or be left behind. After swimming to shore, Ken buries his scuba diving equipment and narrowly misses being seen by Japanese residents playing baseball. He finds the radio station and checks out the wharf, then hides until dark. While waiting, he dozes and dreams of proposing to Sally, who he now feels betrayed him. At night, he dynamites the wharf to divert attention from his real task. Upon slipping through the window of the radio station, he finds and photographs the code book, while barely eluding the radio man there. Meanwhile, inside the sub, as the ten o’clock deadline passes, the men are suffering and edgy from the stale oxygen. According to regulations, Stevenson feels he is endangering the craft and crew by remaining, but he holds his position and taps on the wall of the sub to alert Ken to their position. Swimming underwater, Ken follows the sound to the submarine, his mission accomplished. By sunrise, the Barracuda is sailing topside in safe waters. Troubled, Stevenson writes a letter to headquarters requesting a board of investigation for his violation of naval regulations, in which he “knowingly hazarded his vessel” and endangered the lives of his crew. As the Barracuda reaches Pearl Harbor, many of the crewmen’s friends are standing at the dock to welcome them back. While spotting Sally waiting for him in the crowd, Ken tells Stevenson that the letter he wrote has been “lost.”

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

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