Having been fighting a flu bug for the last 8 days, I have little sense of humor. But I do find the idea of Paula Prentiss and John Wayne to be an unusual pairing. Even amusing. I don’t know why. I think it’s in this one movie that I think Paul Prentiss excels in. Maintaining her own duties while dealing with her boyfriend, Mac, who is definitely in harm’s way is done believably, showing both an inner strength and the vulnerability of the situation. All of these people’s lives were not completely their own, try as they might.
This movie has an extremely strong cast clear down to Stanley Holloway as the island spotter, giving it at least one musical connection.
It was Jill Haworth who played the part of “Annalee” who was both Jere’s prospective wife and the object of abuse for Eddington. Dana Andrews excels as the back-bencher Admiral Broderick with Patrick O’Neal beautifully playing the boot-licking opportunist who is going to get something out of this war, and it certainly is not going to be a purple heart. Give Andrews a lot of credit for playing a character who had few admirable qualities.
Burgess Meredith strays from the confines of being a “character actor” and puts in one of his finest performances as Commander Powell. “Dallas” is represented by Larry Hagman, “Star Trek” by Barbara Bouchet (Kelinda, “By Any Other Name”), “All in the Family” with Carol O’Connor, Wayne’s old cohort or villain (I forget which) from “Cahill U.S. Marshal,” George Kennedy, a Mitchum yute makes an appearance (James), “Dr. Stranglove” is represented by Slim Pickens, and last but not least is the stupid convention of “CINCPAC II” when we all know it’s Chester Nimitiz that Henry Fonda would reprise later in “Midway.” One of the best lines in the movie is “CINCPAC II” to Wayne after what Wayne thinks is a court-martial-worthy disaster in Pala Passage:
I’m having you flown to the States, but not for court martial. They'll stick a peg leg on you and ship you back. You'll stump to Tokýo with the rest of us. You'll do it from the deck of a ship in command of a task force.
Rarely does John Wayne get to play the part of being astonished. Usually he’s the one doing that to others. He is that here.