Friday, March 2, 2012
IN HARM'S WAY
Last night I tried -- and failed -- to stay up late and watch Otto Preminger's 1965 masterpiece In Harm's Way. As Navy pictures go, it's tops and it's depection of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is one of the best in all of cinema -- much better than that Michael Bay abortion Pearl Harbor. Alas, I am old, I am old I wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled, and I just couldn't stay up that late. A pity as I almost always try to catch this flick when it's on.
Whenever I watch this film, I'm always remindned of something: John Wayne could act. Oh, I don't mean we're all clamoring to see him in Hamlet or Waiting for Godot. I simply mean that given Wayne is most comfortable (and believable) in a certain type of role, he really can act. His depiction of seasoned Navy Captain Rock Torrey in IN HARM'S WAY is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. We believe his mature attaction to Patricia Neal, his contempt (at first) for his smarmy, estranged son as well as his obligatory manly concern that the good old US of A triumph over the enemy. It would be easy to reduce Wayne to his ability to swagger about spouting the word Pilgrim, but that is the stuff of Las Vegas stand-up acts, not the legacy of Wayne himself.
Preminger is at the height of his powers in this film and an excellent supporting cast (including Kirk Douglas) doesn't hurt. If you do not like this film I will fight you.