The Hunt for Shinaru
Where does ones loyalties lay when you're a commander of a submarine, do they lie with your country or with your family. It's one of the better elements which go into making "Torpedo Run" starring Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine. Unfortunately this semi thought provoking issue is wasted in a movie which starts out so well and ends up a relatively exciting but straight forward war movie aboard a submarine.
10 months after having been sent off to war Lt. Cmdr. Barney Doyle (Glenn Ford - The Sheepman) is struggling to keep control of his emotions as the island of Manila where his wife and daughter live has been taken over. Along with best friend and right hand man Lt. Archer 'Archie' Sloan (Ernest Borgnine - The Badlanders) they wait for news which finally comes when they learn that all the American's on Manila are alive and well in an interment camp. But when they get the mission to go after the infamous Japanese warship The Shinaru there is a sting in the tail as the Japanese have placed all those American's from Manila on board a transporter using it as protection, forcing Doyle into a hard decision as to whether try and blow up the Shinaru and risk the lives of the innocent and possibly his family or ignore orders.
The first part of "Torpedo Run" is pretty damn good as it focuses on Doyle's battle of emotions as well as those of his loyal men aboard his submarine as the uncertainty over his wife affects his temperament. And then delivers that clever twist making Doyle having to choose between doing his duty, what he is paid to do or to do what would be right to protect his family. All of which is marvellously worked so that it does get you close to the edge of your seat in eager anticipation of what Doyle does at the same time also building up the friendship between Doyle and Sloan.
All of which is great, it's emotional and dramatic delivering a real sense of excitement. But then once decisions are made actions are taken and we are taken on this emotional rollercoaster ride "Torpedo Run" then turns into for the most a run of the mill war drama. We follow the submarine as Doyle sets his sights on the mission of destroying the Shinaru even if that means leading his men into danger by venturing into Tokyo harbour and a mine field, getting too close to destroyers all the time their submarine getting bombarded by depth charges. Don't get me wrong it's well worked and as war movies go there is plenty of excitement going on. The trouble is that the cleverness of that first part and the emotional consequences are for the most lost as it becomes routine.
In amongst all of this "Torpedo Run" has two saving graces Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine. Glenn Ford is brilliant as Barney Doyle, delivering the emotional turmoil to perfection all the time keeping that sense of military duty. Even in the more routine second half where the emotional side of the storyline is for the most ignored, you still get a sense that Doyle is a man hell bent on finishing the job, be it for emotional reasons or because it's his duty. And the partnership of Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine really helps; you believe that they are not just best friends aboard the submarine but also off of it, making Sloan also emotionally involved in the decision. As such Ernest Borgnine gives just as marvellous performance as Sloan, finding the turmoil you would expect of a man realising that his best friend has one of the hardest decisions to make.
Aside from Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine there are some recognizable faces in early minor parts. Dean Jones, Fredd Wayne and Robert Hardy all feature as part of the crew aboard the submarine and Diane Brewster appears as Doyle's wife Jane in a series of flash back style scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "Torpedo Run" whilst starting off quite brilliantly with an interesting dramatic storyline ends up an entertaining but routine war drama. It is down to the performances of Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine which make all the routine-ness so much more interesting as they delver the depths of emotions as their characters.