Published on September 7th, 2012 | by Chris0
Too Young The Hero (1988)
From the "where did this come from" school of 1980's TV specials, I present "Too Young the Hero." The "true story" of one Calvin Graham, who at the ripe old age of twelve, managed to hoodwink pretty much the entire Navy into letting him join up during World War II in 1942. Twelve. He served aboard the USS South Dakota during Guadalcanal, among other action.
Yeah, its a made-for-TV movie, I know. So you have to deal with a low budget production, pretty much across the board. But you know something? CBS actually pulled it off quite nicely. (Although the electric gates at the brig seemed a bit too modern, anyone know?) Between a few artfully used sets and locations, and a plethora of well-chosen Navy stock footage, Graham's story is told through a series of flashbacks while he spends time in the brig awaiting his release.
As for Rick Shroder, not bad, not bad at all. He manages to pull off a convincing persona of a 12-year old kid who is actually much older. Matter of fact, I can't recall any particularly cringe-worthy moments. The entire thing, despite its flaws, is actually quite engaging and interesting.
Check the wikipedia article I linked to above for the full, real story on Calvin Graham. Its just amazing to me that this could happen. But as the movie shows, you were dealing with an entirely different age. Where everything was on paper, and things could quite easily be forged, and people manipulated. Not to diminish Graham's service or intentions by any means, but still, he managed to pull it off.
To top it off you actually learn a few things about battleships in the process. Bonus.
Best I can come up with is this short promo clip. I watched it via Netflix streaming.
Summary: The story of Calvin Graham, who was able to join up in the Navy in 1942, and serve aboard the USS South Dakota in Guadalcanal.... all at the age of 12 years. Starring Rick Shroder, John DeVries, Debra Mooney