THE GALLANT HOURS
(director: Robert Montgomery; screenwriters: Frank D. Gilroy/Beirne Lay, Jr.; cinematographer: Joseph MacDonald; editor: Fredrick Y. Smith; music: Roger Wagner; cast: James Cagney (Fleet Admiral William Halsey), Dennis Weaver (Lt. Commander Andy Lowe), Ward Costello (Captain Harry Black), Vaughn Taylor (Commander Mike Pulaski), Richard Jaeckel (Lt. Commander Roy Webb), (James T. Goto (Admiral Yamamoto); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Montgomery; United Artists; 1960)
“Aside from Cagney’s gritty performance, the subdued biopic, shot in black-and-white and in an episodic semi-documentary style, lacks oomph and muscle.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Actor turned director Robert Montgomery(“Here Comes Mister Jordan”/”The Secret Land”/”They Were Expendable”), who was a PT boat commander during WW 2, directs his final film, a reverential treatment of Fleet Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, Jr (James Cagney). It covers only five weeks in Halsey’s life, mostly during the battle of Guadalcanal in 1942, when he was commander of the Pacific Fleet. Aside from Cagney’s gritty performance, the subdued biopic, shot in black-and-white and in an episodic semi-documentary style, lacks oomph and muscle.
Halsey was born in New Jersey in 1882. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1904 and earned his Naval Aviator’s wings at the age of 52, the oldest person to do so in the history of the Navy. Halsey was commander of the Naval sea war in the South Pacific in 1942, giving America its first success in the Pacific with his Guadalcanal victory. Halsey was promoted to Five-Star Fleet Admiral in December 1945 and retired from active duty in 1947 to go into business. He died in August 1959 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The pic was spurned by the public mainly because it eschewed battle scenes for lots of talk, character development and depicting the stress of command. Intelligent war pics without bloody battles are often shot down in this manner by the public, but are often acclaimed, as was this pic, by history buffs for their respect in getting the history right.
Cagney decided to retire after The Gallant Hoursbut returned for the Billy Wilder comedy One, Two, Three (1961). He did not return to the big screen again until Ragtime (1981), his final theatrical feature.
REVIEWED ON 7/18/2013 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/