The Wackiest Ship in the Army? (1961)

99-100 mins | Comedy-drama | 1961

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HISTORY

The film’s working title was The Wackest Ship in the Navy . Onscreen credits note "Herbert Carlson's story was originally published by Popular Publications, Inc." Popular Publications owned Argosy Magazine , the publication in which the story appeared. Copyright records incorrectly spelled the film's registrant as "Fred Kohlmer Productions, Inc." Onscreen credits contain the following acknowledgment: “We wish to thank the Department of Defense and particularly the U.S. Navy for the willing assistance in the production of this motion picture." The film opens with the voice of an offscreen narrator explaining “This bold, slightly improbable adventure began with a message…an urgent request for a particular young qualified officer to lead an extremely delicate mission…it demanded a man, a man of executive ability and high intelligence.” The film then cuts to a shot of “Lt. Rip Crandall” lying in his bunk.
       The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was an actual battle in the Pacific Campaign during World War II, in which the planes of the U.S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force destroyed a Japanese convoy carrying troops to Lea, New Guinea to reinforce the Japanese forces there. In contrast to the events of the film, the convoy was spotted by a B-24 Liberator bomber on 1 Mar 1943. Gen. Douglas MacArthur used the victory to request five divisions and 1,800 aircraft in preparation for his landings in northern New Guinea.
       An Oct 1958 HR news item noted that Ernie Kovacs was originally to appear in the film. Although a May 1960 HR news item added Paul Cameron and Henry Ally to the ... More Less

The film’s working title was The Wackest Ship in the Navy . Onscreen credits note "Herbert Carlson's story was originally published by Popular Publications, Inc." Popular Publications owned Argosy Magazine , the publication in which the story appeared. Copyright records incorrectly spelled the film's registrant as "Fred Kohlmer Productions, Inc." Onscreen credits contain the following acknowledgment: “We wish to thank the Department of Defense and particularly the U.S. Navy for the willing assistance in the production of this motion picture." The film opens with the voice of an offscreen narrator explaining “This bold, slightly improbable adventure began with a message…an urgent request for a particular young qualified officer to lead an extremely delicate mission…it demanded a man, a man of executive ability and high intelligence.” The film then cuts to a shot of “Lt. Rip Crandall” lying in his bunk.
       The Battle of the Bismarck Sea was an actual battle in the Pacific Campaign during World War II, in which the planes of the U.S. Fifth Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force destroyed a Japanese convoy carrying troops to Lea, New Guinea to reinforce the Japanese forces there. In contrast to the events of the film, the convoy was spotted by a B-24 Liberator bomber on 1 Mar 1943. Gen. Douglas MacArthur used the victory to request five divisions and 1,800 aircraft in preparation for his landings in northern New Guinea.
       An Oct 1958 HR news item noted that Ernie Kovacs was originally to appear in the film. Although a May 1960 HR news item added Paul Cameron and Henry Ally to the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. According to a Jan 1960 DV news item, Jerry Bresler was originally to produce the film. Another May 1960 HR news item noted that location filming was done around Pearl Harbor on Oahu, Hawaii and at Lihue on Kauai, Hawaii. The production was interrupted by the Screen Actors Guild strike which ran from 8 Mar—early Apr 1960. The Wackiest Ship in the Army? marked the American screen debut of British actress Patricia Driscoll. From 19 Sep 1965—17 Apr 1966, NBC broadcast a television series based on the film, also titled The Wackiest Ship in the Army . The series starred Jack Warden and Gary Collins and was directed and written by Danny Arnold.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Dec 1960.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 1959.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jan 1960.
---
Daily Variety
5 Dec 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Dec 60
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1958
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1960
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Feb 1960
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 May 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 May 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1960
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 60
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
12 Feb 1961
p. B6.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Dec 60
p. 947.
New York Times
9 Feb 61
p. 36.
Variety
7 Dec 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr story
Scr story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec supv
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Big Fella Wash-Wash" by Herbert Carlson in Argosy Magazine (Jul 1956).
SONGS
"Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" words and music by Eddie De Lange and Louis Alter.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Wackiest Ship in the Navy
Release Date:
1961
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 February 1961
Los Angeles opening: 15 February 1961
Production Date:
22 February--6 March 1960
20 April--8 June 1960
Copyright Claimant:
Fred Kohlmar Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 January 1961
Copyright Number:
LP19051
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Color
Eastman Color by Pathé
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
99-100
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19722
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Feb 1943, Lt. Rip Crandall of the U.S. Navy is promoted to his first command and arrives in a hidden harbor in the South Pacific, where he surveys a flotilla of destroyers. Crandall’s heart sinks when, among the proud vessels, he spots his new ship, the U.S.S. Echo , a dilapidated schooner. Crandall is greeted by the eager Ens. Tommy Hanson, whose level of enthusiasm is matched by Crandall’s level of dismay when he realizes that, except for Tommy, no one on the crew has ever manned a sailing ship and consequently, has no idea what a fo’c’sle is or that it is at the front of the ship. Aware that by refusing to sign his commission papers, he can escape serving on the Echo , Crandall conveniently leaves his papers behind and goes to see Cmdr. Wilbur Vandewater, the head of the base. Vandewater explains that Gen. Douglas MacArthur has ordered that the Echo be delivered to New Guinea, a journey that will take the boat across 400 miles of open water, and that Crandall, a former yachtsman, is just the man for the job. When Crandall still balks at the assignment, Vandewater, who is in league with Tommy, tricks Crandall into ... +


In Feb 1943, Lt. Rip Crandall of the U.S. Navy is promoted to his first command and arrives in a hidden harbor in the South Pacific, where he surveys a flotilla of destroyers. Crandall’s heart sinks when, among the proud vessels, he spots his new ship, the U.S.S. Echo , a dilapidated schooner. Crandall is greeted by the eager Ens. Tommy Hanson, whose level of enthusiasm is matched by Crandall’s level of dismay when he realizes that, except for Tommy, no one on the crew has ever manned a sailing ship and consequently, has no idea what a fo’c’sle is or that it is at the front of the ship. Aware that by refusing to sign his commission papers, he can escape serving on the Echo , Crandall conveniently leaves his papers behind and goes to see Cmdr. Wilbur Vandewater, the head of the base. Vandewater explains that Gen. Douglas MacArthur has ordered that the Echo be delivered to New Guinea, a journey that will take the boat across 400 miles of open water, and that Crandall, a former yachtsman, is just the man for the job. When Crandall still balks at the assignment, Vandewater, who is in league with Tommy, tricks Crandall into accepting the post by threatening to assign the inexperienced Tommy command of the ship. With just three days to get the crew shipshape, Tommy, Crandall and Chief Mate MacCarthy begin grilling the men in the rudiments of sailing. On the day of their departure, as the Echo pulls out of the harbor, it nearly collides with two oncoming destroyers. Later, Vandewater meets with Adm. Hathaway, who reveals that, once the Echo reaches its destination, Lt. Foster will take command and sail the ship into enemy territory. Because Foster has no experience on a schooner, Crandall will stay in New Guinea until Foster is proficient in handling the craft. Upon reaching New Guinea, the Echo unwittingly enters a mine field in the harbor. When the electric winch misfires, making the vessel difficult to control, the Echo nearly hits the dock, where it is met by the derisive Foster who insults both the ship and its crew. At headquarters, Crandall learns that the Echo is to be disguised as a native fishing boat and take Australian coast watcher Foster and his native guide Goroka to Cape Gloucester, New Britain, where Patterson, an Australian working with the Americans, will survey the coastline for enemy ships. Patterson dislikes the smug Foster and is impressed by Crandall when enemy planes strafe the base and Crandall, rather than taking cover with the officers, hurries back to the ship to join his crew. When orders are given for the ship to get underway, Crandall, fed up with Foster’s imperiousness, usurps his command of the Echo and sets out to sea with Patterson and Goroka. With the ship camouflaged and the crew dressed in native garb, the Echo successfully eludes a Japanese fighter plane to reach New Britain, where it takes cover in the jungle. The crew then unloads boxes of Patterson’s equipment and begins to trek it up the mountain while Crandall stays behind to man the ship. Two Japanese soldiers spot the caravan and manage to transmit a radio message before Goroka kills them. Upon reaching their destination at the top of the mountain, Tommy and the others spot a Japanese convoy heading toward the cape and hurry back to the Echo . When they reach the ship, however, they discover that it has been taken over by a Japanese patrol commanded by Capt. Shigetsu, an articulate graduate of UCLA. Tommy and Crandall are confined in the main cabin by Shigetsu, and when the Japanese major bursts in, Tommy and Crandall overpower the officers. Sneaking on deck, Crandall swings the boom into a row of Japanese soldiers, knocking them overboard. Fired upon by the remaining Japanese soldiers, the Echo revs up its engines and sails out of the harbor. Just then, the major jumps on deck and stabs Crandall with his sword, after which Shigetsu tries to demoralize the Americans into surrendering. When Tommy sends a radio message back to base pinpointing the location of the Japanese convoy, the convoy picks up the signal and begins to bomb the Echo . As Tommy tends Crandall’s wound, Crandall gives the order to abandon ship and they all pile into the life raft and are spotted by an Allied plane. The information about the convoy’s location allows the Allies to attack and destroy it. Six months later, Tommy is promoted to lieutenant junior grade and given his first command while Crandall, now in command of a destroyer, thirsts for more special missions.

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

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