Sunday, July 30, 2017

#7 Crash Dive vs. #10 Operation Pacific


PLOT:  Crash Dive” is a love triangle set around a submarine movie.  Hot shot PT-boat ace Lt. Stewart (Tyrone Powers) is transferred to the silent service.  He is exec to Lt. Commander Dewey (Dana Andrews).  In an awkward development, the wolfish Stewart stalks a comely school teacher named Jean (Anne Baxter) who coincidentally is engaged to Dewey.  The USS Corsair patrols the North Atlantic and encounters a Q-ship.  Later, they are sent on a special mission to destroy the Q-ship base.  The plot is heavily tilted to the 1940s style triangle which is very predictable.  The sea scenes are trite and not instructive of life on a submarine.  The big action scene at the base is blustery and unbelievable.  GRADE  =  D

Operation Pacific” is a John Wayne movie.  Wayne is exec on the USS Thunderfish.  The love triangle in this movie involves his ex-wife being wooed by his captain’s brother.  Wayne wants her back and so does everyone else (including the captain!).  The Thunderfish also has an encounter with a Q-ship which results in Wayne taking command.  In between patrols, the movie takes on the problems that plagued American torpedoes in the first half of the war.  On a later mission, his sub runs into an entire Japanese fleet, including an aircraft carrier.   The plot is weak with its lame romance and everything else is equally predictable.  There are several action sequences that are laughably unrealistic.  GRADE  =  C

FIRST QUARTER SCORE:  Crash Dive  =  5
                                             Operation Pacific  =  6

ACTING:   “Crash Dive” is a three person affair.   The cast is a good one with Powers playing the wolf but laying it on a bit thick.  Baxter is lovely and manages to gloss over the fact that she is a sl**.  Andrews has to play morose cuckold and is a bit wooden.  The crew contains the usual crusty chief, but gives the obligatory black steward a bit more to do than serve food.  He is not a caricature.  The acting is formulaic to match the movie.  GRADE  =  C

Wayne is Wayne and I don’t have to tell you that romance was not his forte.  He and Patricia Neal had no chemistry (maybe because they did not get along on the set).  Ward Bond is good while he lasts.  Philip Carey acts like a man who is competing against John Wayne for the same woman.  In other words, hopeless.  The supporting cast is nondescript.  GRADE  =  C

HALFTIME SCORE:  Crash Dive  =  11
                                   Operation Pacific  =  12

TACTICS:  The encounter with the Q-ship is problematical as the Corsair comes up on the surface to inspect it and is totally taken by surprise.  One torpedo would have easily taken care of the problem.  The egress from the Q-ship base is done partially submerged with the captain guiding the sub past shore batteries that should have easily sunk it.  It’s an exciting image if you can see it through your tears of laughter.  GRADE  =  D

“Operation Pacific” is just as hazy on tactics.  They spot an aircraft carrier and fire only two torpedoes instead of the usual six.  In their encounter with their Q-ship, they fall for a white flag and surface.  They end up ramming the Japanese ship which is pretty ridiculous.  Once they solve the torpedo problem, they have no trouble sinking ships with little firing solution efforts.  GRADE  =  D

THIRD QUARTER SCORE:  Crash Dive  =  16
                                               Operation Pacific  =  17

CLICHES:  In “Crash Dive”, the sub is sent on a special mission to destroy an enemy base.  This involves landing a commando group.  They blow lots of things up.  There is dysfunction between the CO and the exec over a girl.  There is a black mess mate on board.  He goes on the raid.  When the periscope gets hit, the captain stays on deck to guide the boat.  During a depth charging they release debris to fool the pursuers.  The sub follows a ship through both an anti-submarine net and a mine field.  GRADE  =  D

In “Operation Pacific”, the captain gets left on deck when he is wounded by the Q-ship.  Wayne gets redemption for his decision to dive with his captain left on deck.  They fix the problem with the torpedoes, although this is done ashore.  They survive a depth charging that is incredibly accurate, but does not do much damage.  GRADE  =  B

FINAL SCORE:  Crash Dive  =  21
                           Operation Pacific  =  25

ANALYSIS:  I did not plan this matchup.  It’s just a coincidence both involve love triangles which is not shocking considering how common this trope is in war movies (although not that common in sub movies).  The scenes involving Q-ships are bizarre, however.  Truthfully, neither movie is in the upper level of submarine movies.  “Operation Pacific” is the winner mainly based on its surprising lack of clichés.  It is also a slightly more realistic look at submarine operations.  Both have lame romances, but at least “Operation Pacific” does not make it the main raison d’etre.  Plus, it has John Wayne, even it is not one of his stellar performances.


  1. Part of me wishes I were still young and dumb so I can enjoy these kinds of movies. In Cincinnati they always seemed to play these war movies on Channel 19 on Sundays at 1:00PM. Go to church, eat Sunday dinner, then sit back and enjoy.

    Wayne and Neal seemed to have chemistry In Harm's Way, but then maybe they were just better at acting by then. :-)

  2. I totally agree. It is sometimes painful to rewatch movies I loved as a child. I read where Wayne and Neal had let bygones be bygones by the time they reteamed. Speaking of movies that did not hold up - In Harm's Way was crap upon adult viewing.

  3. Totally agree. But...the scene where Neal takes her shoe off in Wayne's quarters is one of the most erotic non-erotic scenes in any movie, evah! LOL

    1. I believe you are showing your age here.


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