1960s In Harm's Way (1965)

Published on February 21st, 2008 | by Chris

2

In Harm’s Way (1965)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
3
On February 21, 2008
Last modified:October 6, 2012

Summary:

There's just so many turns and twists and mini-stories that its just hard to keep track of. I'm still thinking of a few and I run the risk of making this review just like In Harm's Way. Long and hard to keep an interest in.

In Harm's Way (1965)You know, I'm all for epic war movies.  Especially with an all-star cast such as you find with In Harm's Way.  But quite frankly, I didn't much care for this one, and I'll tell you why.

First off, lets get to the plot.  Basically you're looking at the Pacific fleet in some made-up operations against some made-up islands.  OK, I'll give you that.  Gavabutu and Levu Vana or something or other.  Operation Skyhook!  Woo.

The big problem is that In Harm's Way is just long, and lacks direction.  The movie starts with a rather convincing and stark portrayal of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I was thinking, "hey! this is going to be good!"... Until the attack was over.

Then it just turns into what I saw as little disjointed side stories.  You've got the aging ship Captain Rockwell Torrey (John Wayne), who gets taken off his ship after making a snap judgement during the Pearl attack.  Then there's his First Officer, Eddington (Kirk Douglas) the brash and cocky one.  There's another officer, Mac McConnel (Tom Tryon) and his wife (Paula Prentiss), a pair of nurses, the senior Maggie (Patricia Neal) and the young Ensign Dome (Jill Haworth), and Torrey's long-lost estranged son Jeremiah (Brandon De Wilde).  Are you lost yet?  Well, I'm not finished.  You've also got an incompetent Admiral Broderick (Dana Andrews) paired up with a power hungry rockstar senator turned Navy man, Neal Owynn (Patrick O'Neal), the intelligence officer and roommate of the senior Torrey, Powell (Burgess Meredith)....  (take a deep breath)

Now, piece all of the above into the following sub plots:  Torrey Senior falls for Maggie, who just happens to room with the junior nurse Dome, who gets involved with the junior Torrey.  Play that whole soap opera out for a while.

Then you've got the assault on Gavabutu, which the brass sends Torrey out to salvage from Broderick, who sends Owynn as his 'liaison' to Torrey.  Oh, and Torrey Jr. is Owynn's aide.  Then Powell and the entire top secret Skyhook operation....  Ack.

Oh, and the bizarre and largely irrelevant tale of Mac McConnell and his wife.  He gets thrust in charge of his ship after taking charge of it during Pearl, sent away only to become MIA.  Found again, and sent away again to be a part of Skyhook.  All with his wife playing the emotional roller-coaster ride.

Quite frankly the entire mess is confusing, and the tied-together subplots only make for a muddled mess of questions.  "What are we doing at this moment?" "Where did that come from?"  A lot of work went into the plot intricacies here, but not as much into the execution.  Everyone seems related in some way to one another, but in a way that doesn't make you very interested in it.

On top of that, it just takes forever to get from Pearl to the end of the film, what with all these different events and relationships and whatnot.  I think they tried to give equal time to all of them, but in the end, they all suffer the same confuddled fate.

I will say that for 1965 there are quite a few racy and daring moments in this picture.  Starting right off with Eddington's wife skinny dipping with some random sailor after the Saturday night party, only to be killed in a car wreck wearing only a towel (which we're reminded of when the morgue personnel hand Eddington only a pair of shoes.)  Then the assault on Nurse Dome by Eddington, which was completely unnecessary to the story, except maybe to give him a chance at redemption....

There's just so many turns and twists and mini-stories that its just hard to keep track of.  I'm still thinking of a few and I run the risk of making this review just like In Harm's Way.  Long and hard to keep an interest in.

Keep your eyes open for other cameo appearances by such big names as Larry Hagman, Charleton Heston, Carroll O'Connor, Slim Pickens, and others.

In Harm's Way In Harm's Way
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Description

Epic study on the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the effect it had on so many relationships.Genre: Feature Film-DramaRating: NRRelease Date: May 22, 2001Media Type: DVD

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Brand: WAYNE,JOHN
Manufacturer: Paramount
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • John Wayne
  • Kirk Douglas
  • Patricia Neal
  • Tom Tryon
  • Paula Prentiss

Reviews

Customer reviews
Average Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not JW's best, but still a good flick, April 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: In Harm's Way (Amazon Video)
I like the portrayal of life in the pre-WW II (and shortly thereafter) Navy. The director spent considerable time ensuring it was relatively accurate, and filming in B&W was a nice touch -- it also helped cover up the fact that the models weren't really good ones -- models have come a long way since 1964. The chemistry between the Duke and Patricia Neale is pretty good -- she later admitted that he didn't do anything for her, so I guess it shows she was a good actress. Duke as a Navy Captain leading a crew in battle is always good. Typical of the time it isn't really bloody, and people don't get torn in half or anything like that -- Sam Peckinpah didn't make a splash with that kind of cinematography for another five years with The Wild Bunch. The Duke was made for the role of combat hero, in my opinion, and inspired a lot of members (and future members) of the US military without having served himself. You can't hate that. I didn't care for the Kirk Douglas role of Eddington, but I... Read more
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WW2 film and John Wayne, nothing better!, June 4, 2017
By 
Richard W. Boggs Jr. (Charlotte, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: In Harm's Way (Amazon Video)
I've seen this movie numerous times with my father so I am a bit biased but it is one of my favorite John Wayne movies and a good WW2 movie too. Obviously you aren't going to have the modern production values but it has a good story line taking things from pre-pearl harbor to the early, tough fights with the Japanese navy. I watch it at least once a year on tv, finally decided to buy it so i can watch it whenever i want instead of just the military holidays.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WWII Classic!, April 21, 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: In Harm's Way (DVD)
One of my favorite John Wayne movies. Directed by Otto Preminger, its black-and-white filming gives it a period feel that appears straight out of the war.
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In Harm’s Way (1965) Chris

Summary: There's just so many turns and twists and mini-stories that its just hard to keep track of. I'm still thinking of a few and I run the risk of making this review just like In Harm's Way. Long and hard to keep an interest in.

2.5


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)


About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



2 Responses to In Harm’s Way (1965)

  1. Craig Ramsey says:

    Dude. Obviously you’re a 30 yr old kid that can’t appreciate a good plot and is hung up on CGI and video games.
    This is a chick movie with war action. Lots of 60’s sex, plot twists, love, tragedy, suicide.
    It appears disjointed cuz you don’t pay enough attention.
    Eddington’s wife it banging a AF guy that is why he brakes up a bar full of AF guys.
    Rock’s kid Jere is a rich spoiled kid that gets turned to the good side by Eddington.
    Eddington doesn’t know Jere is engaged to Dome and after coming on to him, rapes her.
    Eddington is a loser that is salvaged by Torey but flames out anyway… in a good way.
    This is a lost art called character development, where you care what happens to the characters, war is just going on around you.

    Award nominated war scenes, some actual footage, surface ships, planes, subs, personal reflections on war by Torey and Mac. Lots of heroism, Mac, Eddington, Jere on the PT boat, (you do know that Mac saves most of Torey? – left leg.) Almost everybody dies… kinda like Tarantino.

    Incredible credited cast, you only point out the cameos. Left out Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, James Mitchem, Bergess Merideth, others. Great director Otto Preminger.
    The fact that these islands don’t exist doesn’t matter.
    My wife loves this war movie.

  2. Chris says:

    Dude. Obviously you’re a 30 yr old kid that can’t appreciate a good plot and is hung up on CGI and video games.

    ok… stop liking what I don’t like! nyaaaa.

    This is a chick movie with war action.

    If I remember correctly, this was my conclusion. Thanks for putting it so succinctly.

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