Away All Boats (1956)
The Sea Hawk
Whilst he was a Captain in the merchant navy, Lieut. Dave MacDougall (George Nader - Carnival Story) accepted a demotion in order to enlist in the US Navy and is how he finds himself on the attack transporter USS Belinda captained by Jebediah S. Hawks (Jeff Chandler - The Spoilers). Theirs is an uneasy relationship as Hawks is well aware that MacDougall had been a Captain before enlisting and if truth be told feels a bit threatened by them. Hawks is also less than enthused about being in charge of the Belinda as he had set his sights on being in command of a much better boat and is why he is being hard on every member of the crew as he plans to whip them into shape and make the Belinda the best ship so that he can get the command he wants.
It has to be said that "Away All Boats" is a terrific looking movie especially when you think that so many war movies in the 50s, especially those which were Navy war movies were shot in black and white. It is not just the colour as whilst the camera work doesn't sway from the normal it is effective when combined with the colour to give the movie a look of life. Plus we get some under water footage which with it being in colour is also quite impressive.
But as a movie fan I have watched a fair few war movies from the 1950s especially those based upon boats and the actual storyline to "Away All Boats" whilst working is full of familiar aspects. We have the captain assigned a boat which he doesn't want and sets about trying to use it to get the command he was after. There is also the conflict between the Captain and his second in command which of course develops and changes through the course of the movie with elements of treachery in there as well as the Captain prevents MacDougall getting a promotion. Plus of course there are the men on the boat, a mixed bunch of slackers and inexperienced seamen who don't understand the ways of the sea. But all of this is familiar and whilst it has some story ideas of its own it does end up just another entertaining Navy war movie.
That sense of familiarity extends to the acting as well as whilst Jeff Chandler is solid as Captain Hawks he brings the same sort of qualities to the role which he did in other war movies where he played someone in command. It is the same with the rest of the cast from George Nader through to Charles McGraw they are all solid performances but only in familiar characters. There is also the small matter of Clint Eastwood's name appearing in the cast as a Marine medic, an early appearance for the future star but one which sees his voice being dubbed by someone else.
What this all boils down to is that "Away All Boats" is visually entertaining with the fact it is a colour movie making a big difference. But the various story elements from a tough Captain to a crew full of slackers are only familiar.
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