The Hellcats of the Navy (1957)

81 mins | Drama | May 1957

Director:

Nathan Juran

Producer:

Charles H. Schneer

Cinematographer:

Irving Lippman

Editor:

Jerome Thoms

Production Designer:

Rudi Feld

Production Company:

Morningside Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was Hellcats of the Sea . Before the opening credits roll, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz directly addresses the audience, outlining the plan he approved to sever the supply link between Japan and the Asiatic mainland when he was Commander and Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II, the plan that depended on "The Hellcats of the Navy." The film closes with the following epilogue written by Nimitz: "It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril." The opening credits contain the following written foreword and dedication: "We wish to express our appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy for the full cooperation extended to us in the production of this film. To the officers and the men who served aboard the Hellcat submarines during World War II this picture is dedicated."
       Although HR news item place Frank Bella, Oliver McGowan, Richard Cutting, Frank Chase and James Dobson in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a Dec 1956 HR news item, the footage featuring Nimitz was shot on location in Berkeley, CA in late Dec--early Jan. A Nov 1956 HR news item adds that the location filming was done in San Diego, CA. Although a Jun 1956 LAT news item notes that Edmund North was initially to have written the script, his contribution to the final film has not been determined. As noted in a 4-6 Aug 2000 ... More Less

The working title of this film was Hellcats of the Sea . Before the opening credits roll, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz directly addresses the audience, outlining the plan he approved to sever the supply link between Japan and the Asiatic mainland when he was Commander and Chief of the Pacific Fleet during World War II, the plan that depended on "The Hellcats of the Navy." The film closes with the following epilogue written by Nimitz: "It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril." The opening credits contain the following written foreword and dedication: "We wish to express our appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy for the full cooperation extended to us in the production of this film. To the officers and the men who served aboard the Hellcat submarines during World War II this picture is dedicated."
       Although HR news item place Frank Bella, Oliver McGowan, Richard Cutting, Frank Chase and James Dobson in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a Dec 1956 HR news item, the footage featuring Nimitz was shot on location in Berkeley, CA in late Dec--early Jan. A Nov 1956 HR news item adds that the location filming was done in San Diego, CA. Although a Jun 1956 LAT news item notes that Edmund North was initially to have written the script, his contribution to the final film has not been determined. As noted in a 4-6 Aug 2000 HR news item, Raymond Marcus was a pseudonym for blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon. Hellcats of the Navy was the first and only film in which future president Ronald Reagan appeared with his second wife, Nancy Davis, although the couple appeared together in several episodes of General Electric Theater , a television series that was hosted by Reagan, who also served as the commercial spokesman for General Electric. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
13 Apr 1957.
---
Daily Variety
12 Apr 1957.
p. 3.
Film Daily
18 Apr 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1956
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1956
p. 34.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1957
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4-6 Aug 2000
p. 1, 35.
Los Angeles Times
22 Jun 1956.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Apr 57
p. 345.
Variety
1 May 57
p. 7.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Screen story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Hellcats of the Sea by Charles A. Lockwood, Vice-Admiral, USN, Ret. and Hans Christian Adamson, Col., USAF, Ret. (New York, 1955).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hellcats of the Sea
Release Date:
May 1957
Production Date:
4 December--12 December 1956
addl footage shot in Berkeley, CA late December 1956--early January 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 May 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8440
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
81
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18470
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1944, toward the end of World War II, Commander Casey Abbott of the United States Navy is assigned the strategic mission to retrieve an underwater mine developed by the Japanese, which is undetectable by radar. Casey and the crew of his submarine, The Starfish , transverse a Japanese shipping route to the edge of the minefield, where Navy diver Wes Barton leads an expedition in search of the mines. Soon after Barton submerges, however, the sub’s radar reveals an enemy destroyer approaching, thus forcing Casey to abandon his mission and submerge his sub, a tactic that results in Barton’s death. Casey’s executive officer Lt. Commander Don Landon protests Casey’s decision, implying that he may have been motivated by the fact that Barton had been dating Casey’s former sweetheart, Navy nurse Helen Blair. Freddy Warren, a young sailor, is also traumatized by Casey’s decision. Back at their base in Guam, Casey is vindicated by Vice-Admiral Charles Lockwood, but Lockwood rejects Casey’s suggestion to follow a Japanese fighter through the mine field and chart its course as it threads its way through the explosives. Helen, relieved to see Casey, confides that she never loved Barton and reassures him that he was not influenced by personal considerations. Assigned a new mission to test a circuit developed by the lab to detect the mines, The Starfish suffers an enemy attack in which its sonar and radar are knocked out and Freddy is gravely injured. To save Freddy’s life, Casey orders the sub to surface and return to port, thus aborting his mission. ... +


In 1944, toward the end of World War II, Commander Casey Abbott of the United States Navy is assigned the strategic mission to retrieve an underwater mine developed by the Japanese, which is undetectable by radar. Casey and the crew of his submarine, The Starfish , transverse a Japanese shipping route to the edge of the minefield, where Navy diver Wes Barton leads an expedition in search of the mines. Soon after Barton submerges, however, the sub’s radar reveals an enemy destroyer approaching, thus forcing Casey to abandon his mission and submerge his sub, a tactic that results in Barton’s death. Casey’s executive officer Lt. Commander Don Landon protests Casey’s decision, implying that he may have been motivated by the fact that Barton had been dating Casey’s former sweetheart, Navy nurse Helen Blair. Freddy Warren, a young sailor, is also traumatized by Casey’s decision. Back at their base in Guam, Casey is vindicated by Vice-Admiral Charles Lockwood, but Lockwood rejects Casey’s suggestion to follow a Japanese fighter through the mine field and chart its course as it threads its way through the explosives. Helen, relieved to see Casey, confides that she never loved Barton and reassures him that he was not influenced by personal considerations. Assigned a new mission to test a circuit developed by the lab to detect the mines, The Starfish suffers an enemy attack in which its sonar and radar are knocked out and Freddy is gravely injured. To save Freddy’s life, Casey orders the sub to surface and return to port, thus aborting his mission. After safely reaching Guam, Casey and Landon are assigned to destroy a Japanese island being used as an enemy base. Come nightfall, Landon leads the raid, but when their explosives detonate ahead of schedule, the men find themselves adrift in a sea of fire. After all but one man is rescued, the enemy ships retaliate, sending The Starfish plunging down into the sea. His sonar and radar disabled by attack, Casey has no choice but to follow a Japanese freighter through the treacherous strait, making a chart of the deadly mine field as the sub limps along. Once outside enemy territory, The Starfish resurfaces, but the vessel has been irreparably damaged, forcing Casey to give the order to abandon ship. Although the raft carrying the survivors is rescued, Casey blames himself for the loss of sixty of his men. Once ashore, Landon discovers that he has been denied the post of commander due to a negative performance review written by Casey. When Landon challenges the review, Casey states that Landon is incapable of making painful decisions during emergencies, rendering him unfit for command. Freddy, recovering in the hospital, apologizes to Casey for questioning his decision about Barton. At the inquiry into the loss of The Starfish , Casey is vindicated and given the command of The Sea Ray with Landon as serving as his executive officer. The Sea Ray , and the Navy subs in the area, designated “The Hellcats,” are then assigned to penetrate the Tsushima Strait, a critical trade route for the Japanese, and launch an attack that will severely cripple the lifeline that provides food and supplies to the islands of Japan. If sonar fails, the men are instructed to use the chart mapped earlier by Casey. Upon reaching the strait, The Sea Ray ’s sonar is knocked out, but the sub successfully navigates the mine field using Casey’s chart. On June 9th, the attack is launched, destroying a total of twenty-two ships and one submarine. When The Sea Ray ’s propeller blade becomes jammed, the sub is forced to surface for repair, and Casey dons a diving suit and dives below to fix it, leaving Landon in command. Just as Casey becomes entangled in a cable, a Japanese destroyer is spotted on the horizon, and Casey radios orders for the sub to submerge. When Landon balks, Casey reminds him that the crew is now his responsibility, prompting Landon to cut Casey’s cable and submerge, casting Casey adrift. After torpedoing the destroyer, Landon peers through his telescope and, spotting Casey bobbing on the surface, immediately resurfaces and saves him. With their mission completed, Landon apologizes to Casey for misjudging him. As the sub sails into port, Helen waves to Casey, who then turns to Landon and asks him to be his best man at their wedding. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.