They say it was John Wayne and Kenneth Moore who won the war. I can’t speak for Moore but when it comes to the Duke, try and stop me! Taking command of a submarine, the front line of attack against the Japanese Imperial Army who will stop at nothing.
Taking place on one of the toughest submarines, the Thunderfish Cmdr. John T. ‘Pop’ Perry (Ward Bond) leads a crew through the Pacific against the enemy. Thrashing the enemy at first before they fall foul by the dud torpedoes that they have aboard their vessel. They have to use their wits to stay ahead of the game when engaging with the enemy, having to resort to ramming a Japanese boats that asks them to call their bluff. A dangerous move that costs a few lives on the way. Leaving the strong-willed Lt Cmdr. Duke E. Gifford (Wayne). Not before he meets his ex-wife back at pearl harbour after evacuating a group of nuns and children from a Island. On arriving back home old emotions are brought to the surface again. A short marriage maybe rekindled between Duke and Lt. (j.g.) Mary Stuart (Patricia Neal). If only she wasn’t seeing Pop’s brother Lt. (j.g.) Bob Perry (Philip Carey) who has his own ideas with the young-looking nurse (played by an actress who makes the her marriage look unbelievable between her and Duke).
Things between the three take a back with the death of Pop’s leaving Duke with a future on dry land. Thankfully he takes up the investigation to look into the dud torpedoes, which is a break from time at sea and war. Hope is restored to the men who could be firing blanks that could lead to their destruction and defeat at sea. With hope restored Duke sets out on a mission with the crew of the Thunderfish to act as part of a network of subs to seek out an attack from the enemy. This is where the real action is, numerous explosions as torpedo after torpedo is fired, meeting with a pleasant explosion and audience satisfaction.
Sadly the romance for me plays a distance second fiddle against the action at sea, made on cheap budget with footage from WWII making a more authentic film and experience, out there in the action as it happened. The Duke once again gets the enemy by the scruff of the neck and gives them a good pounding, making for a satisfying film.
- How Pearl Harbor Shaped US Submarine Doctrine (thediplomat.com)
- The Duke – John Wayne – at sea with the Navy in long-lost photos (blogs.defensenews.com)