“When a man goes to sea, he ought to give up thinking about things on shore.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Most compelling is the mysterious tale of Hunter’s “Smitty”, who is seen attempting to flee the ship after being told none of the sailors can leave due to secrecy issues with ammunition being on board. We can tell he’s distressed and distracted, but don’t understand why — until his shipmates concoct an elaborate rationale for his behavior and trap him into confessing his story.
The other primary tale is that of Ole (Wayne), a genial Swede who is merely on the periphery of proceedings for most of the film, but by the end becomes the storyline’s symbolic (and literal) chance for another life; we’re kept in painful suspense about how his travails will turn out.
Gregg Toland’s cinematography is the true star of the show, however. Those interested in his work will most certainly want to check this film out.
Note: Ford and Wayne’s other (post-war) collaborative efforts are all listed or reviewed in Peary’s book; in chronological order, they are: They Were Expendable (1945), Fort Apache (1948), 3 Godfathers (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950), The Quiet Man (1952), The Searchers (1956), The Wings of Eagles (1957), The Horse Soldiers (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), and Donovan’s Reef (1963).
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: