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DESTINATION TOKYO (director/writer: Delmer Daves; screenwriters: Albert Maltz/story by Steve Fisher; cinematographer: Bert Glennon; editor: Chris Nyby; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Cary Grant (Capt. Cassidy), John Garfield (Wolf), Alan Hale (‘Cookie’ Wainwright), John Ridgely (Reserve Officer Raymond), Dane Clark (Tin Can), Warner Anderson (Andy, Executive officer), William Prince (Pills), Robert Hutton (The Kid), Faye Emerson (Mrs. Cassidy), John Forsythe (Sparks), Tom Tully (Mike Conners); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Wald; Warner Home Video; 1943)
“An intelligent WWII propaganda film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An intelligent WWII propaganda film even with lots of speech-making about why the US is better than their foes; it also holds its own with other sub pics. It’s helmed by cowriter Delmer Daves in his first directing assignment before going on to make such 1950s westerns as “3:10 to Yuma,” “Broken Arrow,” and “Jubal.” It’s based on a story by Steve Fisher, with Albert Maltz as cowriter.

Captain Cassidy (Cary Grant) commands the USS Copperfin, a submarine, on a secret mission (learned about an hour into the film when a sealed envelope is broken) departing out of their home base in San Francisco harbor on Christmas Day to enter Tokyo Bay harbor in order to allow a Navy lieutenant meteorologist to survey Japanese weather conditions in preparation for a massive Allied bombing assault on Tokyo. The black-and-white film was shot in the studio.

Grant as the debonair skipper is terrific (the main reason the film worked so well), playing the heroic role in an understated cool manner as things moved along at his relaxed pace. The seamen are all the usual stock military characters, nevertheless they’re pleasing. Dane Clark in his first starring role plays a Greek-American seaman with a score to settle against his Axis enemies, Alan Hale as the good-hearted cook offers comic relief, Tom Tully is the professional Irishman and truly religious man who faces a critical life and death situation grounded in his beliefs, Robert Hutton has a case of bad nerves and the always reliable John Garfield as the torpedo-man who loves the dames keeps things going aboard the ship with his banter. They all somehow manage to make their stereotyped characters seem real. Also, John Forsythe makes his screen debut a success. Though overlong it’s never boring, as there always seems to be something happening such as an emergency appendectomy performed by a pharmacist’s mate (William Prince), mine-sweeping for undersea bombs, fighting off a Japanese plane attack on the Aleutian Islands, withstanding a severe depth-bombing attack on Tokyo Bay and the climactic retreat from Tokyo Bay on April of 1942. Many of the incidents were based on real events, including the submarine’s mission.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”