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SUBMARINE COMMAND(director: John Farrow; screenwriter: Jonathan Latimer; cinematographer: Lionel Lindon; editor: Eda Warren; music: David Buttolph; cast: William Holden (Lt. Cmdr. Ken White), Nancy Olson (Carol), William Bendix (CPO Boyer), Don Taylor (Lt. Cmdr. Peter Morris), Arthur Franz (Lt. Carlson), Peggy Webber (Mrs. Alice Rice), Moroni Olsen (Rear Admiral Joshua Rice), Jack Gregson (Commander Rice); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joseph Sistron; Paramount; 1951)
“Routine war drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

John Farrow (“Five Came Back”/”The Big Clock”/”Hondo”) directs this routine war drama, that has lackluster action scenes and a plodding melodrama about a soul-searching Navy officer, Lt. Cmdr. Ken White (William Holden), who feels guilt-ridden that on his one day of action during World War II resulted in the loss of life of his beloved Captain Josh Rice (Jack Gregson) and the quartermaster. It covers the topic of post-traumatic stress disorder at a time that condition was unknown.

William Holden teams for the fourth and final time with Nancy Olson, who also teamed together as romantics in Sunset Boulevard (1950). The predictable but adequate script is by Jonathan Latimer. It was shot in and around San Diego and the Mare Island Navy Base in Vallejo, California.

Commander Ken White, at the end of the Korean conflict, recalls in a flashback the day he became captain of the now mothballed Navy submarine, the U.S.S. Tiger Shark, on 13 Aug 1945, in the waters of the Pacific war zone. The submarine on the next to last day of war encounters some Japanese ships. Josh allows Ken, a Naval Academy graduate with no combat experience, to direct the torpedo attack and he knocks out the lead Japanese vessel. However, when the submarine surfaces, a Japanese plane strafes the deck, and Josh and the quartermaster are shot. The Tiger Shark then is hit by a Japanese destroyer, and to save the ship, Ken orders the submarine to crash dive, ignoring the protests of C. P. O. Boyer (William Bendix), who wants to surface again to rescue the stranded Josh. Though reassured by the other officers and the Rice family that he did the right thing, Ken continues to be tortured by that incident. During the Korean War, Captain White once again commands the Tiger Shark and redeems himself with heroic action during combat as he carries out his mission to destroy an air radar station in Point Nokomo and a telephone center in Koyasan. Carol (Nancy Olson) is his long-suffering loyal wife, who offers him tender love and support. Don Taylor plays his skirt-chasing wartime Navy pilot buddy.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”