Robinson Blusters Through the Ford
You know you're about the smoothest piece of satin I ever laid my eyes on - Mickey
With a new destroyer commissioned Steve 'Boley' Boleslavski (Edward G Robinson) having become a welder in the dockyard after serving in the Navy takes pride in the building of the new John Paul Jones, making sure every rivet is put in to perfection. And after his daughter Mary (Marguerite Chapman) launches the ship he decides to re-enlist becoming Chief bosun's mate aboard the John Paul Jones after some calling in of old favours. But things go wrong when Boley's demanding old school ways don't go down well and he finds himself being demoted replaced by Mickey Donohue (Glenn Ford) as does the destroyer which when it fails its test run is assigned to the mail run. But when they find themselves in an encounter with a Japanese sub all the training which Boley made the men do before his demotion may come in to use.
You do things with honour, with passion, with tradition and respect, you work hard, you protect your country, respect your loved ones and well to be honest I could go on with the list of various things I have learned from watching old WWII movies about those who serve aboard destroyers and submarines. And there is nothing wrong with that as I believe in doing things right and for the right reasons so the emotion which is part of "Destroyer" appeals but at the same time I have seen it all before.
But "Destroyer" is more than just a movie about honour and the Naval way as we have a conflict which comes between Boley and Mickey Donohue who lock horns over how things should be run aboard the boat with Boley being the relentless task master who will find issue in the smallest of things. But here we go again with a sense of familiarity as other movies from the early 40s also tried to entertain and get people flag waving with a bit of a battle between old school and new school. I could go on because on top of the rivalry we have further conflict with Mickey becoming sweet on Boley's daughter which of course provides more comic tension.
The thing is that "Destroyer" whilst typical is entertaining because it has an amusing vibe with both Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford layering on the humour with Ford scoring heavily in the scenes when he tries to score with Boley's daughter Mary who is resilient to his charms. But even this side of "Destroyer" is familiar and all the more so when watched now 70 odd years after it was released because there were similar characters in many other war movies made in the 1940s and later.
What this all boils down to is that "Destroyer" is entertaining and has an enjoyable comedy vibe as well as that sense of flag waving patriotism thanks to the casting of Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford but everything about the movie feels familiar right down to the ending.
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