Submarine Patrol (1938)

95 mins | Comedy-drama | 25 November 1938

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Splinter Fleet , Suicide Fleet and Wooden Anchors . In a 4 Sep 1936 story outline in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Tyrone Power is suggested for the role of Perry Townsend; this was prior to his first starring role in Lloyd's of London (see below). William Faulkner was employed as a writer for the film from 4 Sep to 30 Nov 1936 and contributed a screenplay with Kathryn Scola. An unsigned summary and analysis of his work included in the Produced Scripts Collection notes, "Unlike the characters in Mr. Faulkner's serious works, the characters in this screen play are ordinary puppets. The incidents are either trite, lacking in humor or pointless, the majority of them being totally unrelated to the general story thread. The story as a whole is diffused to a point where whatever intensity it might have is diluted....The hero, Perry, is flat in character, does not develop with the story, fails to earn our sympathy, and displays nothing of courage or intellect to rate a hero role....The dialogue as dialogue is splendid." The Produced Scripts Collection file on this film contains memos to Zanuck from Jason Joy, Aidan Roark, Jerry Hoffman, Bess Meredyth and Ben Markson, which contain suggestions about the script. A memo in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection, also at UCLA, acknowledges that the screen credits and advertising for the film mistakenly spelled the author's name "Milholland." The legal records also contain correspondence which relates that although the studio purchased a screen ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Splinter Fleet , Suicide Fleet and Wooden Anchors . In a 4 Sep 1936 story outline in the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Tyrone Power is suggested for the role of Perry Townsend; this was prior to his first starring role in Lloyd's of London (see below). William Faulkner was employed as a writer for the film from 4 Sep to 30 Nov 1936 and contributed a screenplay with Kathryn Scola. An unsigned summary and analysis of his work included in the Produced Scripts Collection notes, "Unlike the characters in Mr. Faulkner's serious works, the characters in this screen play are ordinary puppets. The incidents are either trite, lacking in humor or pointless, the majority of them being totally unrelated to the general story thread. The story as a whole is diffused to a point where whatever intensity it might have is diluted....The hero, Perry, is flat in character, does not develop with the story, fails to earn our sympathy, and displays nothing of courage or intellect to rate a hero role....The dialogue as dialogue is splendid." The Produced Scripts Collection file on this film contains memos to Zanuck from Jason Joy, Aidan Roark, Jerry Hoffman, Bess Meredyth and Ben Markson, which contain suggestions about the script. A memo in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department Collection, also at UCLA, acknowledges that the screen credits and advertising for the film mistakenly spelled the author's name "Milholland." The legal records also contain correspondence which relates that although the studio purchased a screen story based on the book by Charles Bruce Millholland, the brother of the author, no part of that material was used in the final film.
       In a memo to Darryl Zanuck dated 12 Mar 1937, Sol M. Wurtzel, in charge of the studio's "B" picture productions, stated that because of the cost to build the boat needed, the film should be considered an "A" picture and be given an "A" cast; this, in fact, is what occurred. According to Var , four subchasers from 1917, which were still in service in the U.S. Navy, were used in the film in location shots filmed at Annapolis. This was the first film in a number of years for Nancy Kelly, who earlier appeared as a child actor and had recently starred in the Broadway production of Susan and God . According to studio publicity, actor Elisha Cook, Jr. lost the top of his left thumb during the shooting of the storm sequence when his thumb caught on a wire as a wall of water hurled down on him. Added dialogue was then written about his bandaged hand.
       Reviewers greatly praised this film. Frank S. Nugent, who later wrote screenplays for director John Ford, wrote in his NYT review, "That is the way adventure stories should be filmed. We have no qualms about calling this the best of its type this year." MPH commented that the climactic battle scene "is among the best of its kind ever filmed." According to a modern source, Ford cited this as one of his favorite films. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5-Nov-38
---
Daily Variety
29 Oct 38
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 Nov 38
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21-Aug-36
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Mar 38
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jul 38
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 38
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 38
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Nov 38
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
31 Oct 38
p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Jul 38
p. 43.
Motion Picture Herald
5 Nov 38
p. 38, 40
New York Times
19 Nov 38
p. 9.
New York Times
27-Nov-38
---
Variety
14-Sep-36
---
Variety
2 Nov 38
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Darryl F. Zanuck in charge of production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Asst assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Head gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst cutter
Asst cutter
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward man
Ward woman
MUSIC
Mus dir
MAKEUP
Hair
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr clerk
Loc mgr
Cableman
Asst props
Best boy
Still photog
Publicity dir
STAND INS
Stand-in for Preston Foster
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Splinter Fleet of the Otranto Barrage by Ray Millholland (Indianapolis, 1936).
SONGS
"Santa Lucia," words and music by Teodoro Cottrau.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Suicide Fleet
Wooden Anchors
The Splinter Fleet
Release Date:
25 November 1938
Premiere Information:
World premiere in San Diego: 9 November 1938
Production Date:
late June--late August 1938
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
25 November 1938
Copyright Number:
LP8721
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95
Length(in feet):
8,522
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
4503
SYNOPSIS

In 1918, millionaire playboy Perry Townsend III drives into the Brooklyn Navy Yard to enlist and knocks over the guard at the gate, Joe Duffy. After Rear Admiral Joseph Maitland assigns him to be chief engineer on the submarine chaser 599, Perry helps start a stalled truck driven by attractive Susan Leeds, and as he reaches inside, casually touches her leg. Duffy tries to make a date with Perry's companion Anne, and when Anne sees Perry's interest in Susan, she drives off. Perry gets a ride with Susan and learns that she works on her father's freighter, the Maria Anne , which delivers munitions. While Perry is disappointed in the small wooden subchaser to which he is assigned, he quickly makes friends with the crew, who have developed laxity into a way of life. They go to a saloon, where Perry finds Susan with her father's first mate McAllister, a rude, religious fanatic. Perry has McAllister paged to take a phone call, and then he takes Susan to the Ritz Roof, where they find Duffy dancing with Anne. Afterward, at her cabin, when Susan kisses Perry goodnight, her stern father, Captain Leeds, warns Perry not to see his daughter again and then kicks Perry down the stairs. Admiral Maitland assigns as commander of the subchaser Lieutenant John C. Drake, who has been found guilty of negligence for letting a destroyer run aground on rocks. Maitland allows him four experienced men to make real sailors of the others. Drake immediately orders the crew to clean the ship and Perry to get a regulation uniform. Perry complains to the admiral, who tells him that the ... +


In 1918, millionaire playboy Perry Townsend III drives into the Brooklyn Navy Yard to enlist and knocks over the guard at the gate, Joe Duffy. After Rear Admiral Joseph Maitland assigns him to be chief engineer on the submarine chaser 599, Perry helps start a stalled truck driven by attractive Susan Leeds, and as he reaches inside, casually touches her leg. Duffy tries to make a date with Perry's companion Anne, and when Anne sees Perry's interest in Susan, she drives off. Perry gets a ride with Susan and learns that she works on her father's freighter, the Maria Anne , which delivers munitions. While Perry is disappointed in the small wooden subchaser to which he is assigned, he quickly makes friends with the crew, who have developed laxity into a way of life. They go to a saloon, where Perry finds Susan with her father's first mate McAllister, a rude, religious fanatic. Perry has McAllister paged to take a phone call, and then he takes Susan to the Ritz Roof, where they find Duffy dancing with Anne. Afterward, at her cabin, when Susan kisses Perry goodnight, her stern father, Captain Leeds, warns Perry not to see his daughter again and then kicks Perry down the stairs. Admiral Maitland assigns as commander of the subchaser Lieutenant John C. Drake, who has been found guilty of negligence for letting a destroyer run aground on rocks. Maitland allows him four experienced men to make real sailors of the others. Drake immediately orders the crew to clean the ship and Perry to get a regulation uniform. Perry complains to the admiral, who tells him that the Navy has little patience with "pull" and advises him to go back and be a good sailor. Before they go to sea, Perry asks Susan to wait for him and kisses her through the porthole of her father's freighter. Captain Leeds, upset that Perry has given Susan a necklace, throws Perry down despite his protestations that he loves Susan. The subchaser's assignment is to escort the convoy, including Leeds's freighter, to Italy. When a U-boat tries to attack the Maria Anne , the subchaser torpedoes it, but rather than rejoice, the men solemnly salute the enemy men buried at sea. At the port of Brindisi in Italy, Perry gets a message to Susan to meet him at a hotel, where he tells her that he has arranged to marry her in a half hour. Her father and McAllister interrupt them, and after McAllister carries Susan away, Leeds throws Perry down again. After the chaplain shows Leeds a marriage license and proves that Perry really did intend to marry Susan, Leeds goes aboard the subchaser to talk to Perry. Meanwhile, Drake tells his crew that the enemy sub known as "Old Man 26" has just sunk its thirty-first ship. Drake has asked permission to go after it, and all the men volunteer to go on this dangerous mission. When Leeds arrives, Perry knocks him out, and Leeds is stuck on the ship as it pulls out. When he revives, he offers to work in the engine room with Perry. After a surveillance boat makes its way through a mine field and locates the sub ashore, a battle ensues during which Leeds rescues Perry and the sub is sunk. Leeds then gives Perry back the marriage license and shakes his hand. Later, as Susan, her father and the chaplain await Perry for the wedding, a crewman arrives with a note from Perry saying that they are sailing for Malta immediately. The Maria Anne then sails alongside the subchaser, and Perry enlists his fellow crew members to yell to Susan, "Do you love me?" and "Will you wait for me." She has her father and the disheartened McAllister yell back "Yes," and they plan to meet in Gibraltar. +

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

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