Sunday, September 7, 2014

1931 - THE SEAS BENEATH - early John Ford Navy film

This early John Ford film doesn't have a lot of his special visual touches, it's mostly a straight up adventure story.  During World War 1 the US Navy deploys "mystery ships," essentially decoy ships used to lure German submarines out into the open so the Navy could engage and sink them. 

Ford and his favorite 1930's writer Dudey Nichols created a story about one of these ships that had a lot of Ford's favorite themes, the profession of arms, cornball navy humor and a stolid hero. The hero in this case is George O'Brien, an early version of the character John Wayne starting playing for Ford somewhat regularly in the 1940's through the 1960's. 

The Informer, Ford's breakthrough sound film is still 4 years away.  This film seems more like a straight up 30's adventure film filmed by a studio director.  However the film is impressive for the amount of on location photography that was incorporated into the story.  There are some exciting action scenes towards the end of the film that were actually filmed at sea with a battle between the "mystery ship" and the German submarine. 

This is a decent 30's action film with the usual somewhat poor film acting.  Directors and actors were still trying to figure out how to modulate their performances in early sound films.  Visually the scenes at sea are staged pretty well, the scenes on shore with the actors are somewhat an ordeal to sit through.  A good early 30's action film.

90 minutes

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