The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum


As a fan of director Nathan (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman) Juran, I owed it to myself to finally check this out. Due to Juran’s schlocky, but fun resume (he also directed 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Deadly Mantis, and The Brain from Planet Arous the same year this was released) I was expecting this flick to be kinda hokey. I mean, it stars Ronald and Nancy Reagan for God’s sakes. Trust me, parts of this movie are hokey, but Hellcats of the Navy is actually a pretty decent submarine film.

Ron stars as a WWII submarine captain who has just broken things off with Nancy. While in the ocean fighting the Japanese fleet, he makes a tough decision that causes the death of one of his crew, who just so happens to be dating Nancy. Ron’s second in command (Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man’s Arthur Franz) thinks the decision was a personal one, and the two butt heads at almost every juncture. Eventually, Ron and Nancy get back together and when it’s Ron’s turn to be left high and dry, Franz soon learns how to make tough decisions at sea.

The thing I liked about Hellcats of the Navy was that Ron isn’t a clear cut good guy. He’s made some bad choices and puts his men in mortal danger more often than he should. However, he does feel guilty about it, which shows he’s a man who is aware of his own moral shortcomings.

I also dug Ronnie’s crew, who spend an awful lot of time fawning over pin-up girls and shooting craps. Seeing a young Joe (The Shining) Turkel aboard the sub was pretty cool too. I also love how that in every ‘50s Navy/Army/space movie, there’s always that one guy from Brooklyn who wears his hat with the brim flipped up.

A lot Hellcats of the Navy is dull. Juran’s handling of the sub battles is pretty chintzy too (there are a couple of obvious toy boat shots) and the excessive use of stock footage gets to be too much at times. Still, just seeing the future President and First Lady together on screen is cool enough for most people to want to check it out.

Tags: drama, h

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