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Author Topic: FilmStruck
Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 20, 2018, 22:22
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Needless to say, his influential father had a lot to do with that medal. He probably deserved both the court martial and the medal.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 20, 2018, 22:35
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JFK himself admitted that his record wasn't that good, except for the aftermath of losing his boat to a slower and less maneuverable ship. I rather liked the cook, partly because he reminded me of a schoolmate I actually got along well with.

Granted, they were stationed in the near pitch-black waiting for some kind of Jap task force. The PT boats were split into four groups because there were only four boats with radar. They were supposedly to get them soon for all boats. Maybe the Jap boat had radar or saw the PT boat and intentionally rammed it. The movie made no speculation one way or another.

The best scene in the movie (and there were not all that many) was Inspector Luger manning one of the PT 109’s big guns while under attack by a Jap plane. Inspector Luger shot it down. The other good scene (there were no good scenes that included Cliff Robertson) was when Inspector Luger was explaining to his superior that he did not want to be shipped back to a desk job. He had had a desk job in the previous war and saw no action. He wanted to see action and pleaded his case (a very impassioned plea). He didn’t know if he was a coward or not, but could probably live with it if he was. But he didn’t want to go through another war without seeing the enemy.

Next scene we see Inspector Luger joining the crew of the PT 109. And he takes his turn at a gun and scores a hit.

Timothy-
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Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 21, 2018, 07:45
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The Japanese were good at night fighting -- better than the US for much of the war even though the Americans had increasingly good radar and the Japanese had none at all. (I consider night-fighting skills a good indication of the seriousness of a navy's preparations. The British, Germans, and Japanese were good at it. The Americans and Italians weren't, though the Americans in their usual fashion learned their lesson very well eventually.)

Dorie Miller was a mess attendant on the West Virginia on December 7, 1941. He went to his duty station and found it wrecked already, so he reported for duty at a ship location set up for that. After helping load a pair of heavy AA machine guns, he fired one of them when his commander was distracted. He has been credited with shooting down at least one plane, though one can never be sure (a lot of people were probably shooting at it, and in such situations you can never be sure who deserves the credit). He received the Navy Cross for it, the first black recipient of World War II (and was later killed when an I-boat sank his ship, the escort carrier Lissome Bay, off Makin during the capture of Tarawa and Makin.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 21, 2018, 09:52
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He probably deserved both the court martial and the medal.

This movie doesn’t impress me as a precise recreation of the facts. It’s hard to tell what is going on and what is normal. What deserves praise and what deserves a court martial. Indeed, probably both to some extent.

Cliff Robertson plays JFK in such an “aw shucks, I’m a nice guy” superficial way that it seems quite natural to drive your PT boat too fast to the fueling dock knowing your engines are delicate and then crashing into the dock. But a smile cures everything. Never a hint of temper or anything from Robertson’s portrayal. JFK is The Good Humor man for all intents and purposes. He even has nothing but bland kind words for the sailor who broke (through a temper tantrum) their only apparent means of signally help while stranded on an island, a signal lantern. At the end Robertson mouths some bland platitudes such as “I hope to have more like you with me who will say what’s on their mind even if the odds are against them.” What?

It sure looks like fun manning one of those big guns and shooting at planes. They must have been hard to hit using that method.

Timothy-
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Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 21, 2018, 10:32
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Those wouldn't be considered big guns by naval standards. They had 20mm Oerlikon and 40mm Bofors guns. (The first was Swiss, the second Swedish. Isn't neutrality wonderful? For that matter, the British learned how good the Bofors was by models they encountered on Dutch ships that escaped the Germans.) I recall reading of an AA gun crew that had drawn models of the planes they shot down -- including a couple of friendlies hit by mistake. Some people in authority were definitely Not Pleased at their jape.

Shooting at enemy planes probably was fun, at least when you had a reasonable chance of shooting it down, though neither of us is ever likely to experience the pleasure. Not so fun when they shoot back, of course. (Almost any warplane had some machine guns. The only Japanese plane shot down over Dutch Harbor when they raided it as a diversion for the attack on Midway involved both ground fire and the gunner on a PBY.)

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 21, 2018, 20:21
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Shooting at enemy planes probably was fun, at least when you had a reasonable chance of shooting it down, though neither of us is ever likely to experience the pleasure.

War-based video games have become so realistic, you can come pretty close without actually firing real bullets.

Here's a retro PT boat simulator from 1994. I’ve never played it. I do have the game Blood Wake for the original Xbox. It’s loads of fun. These aren’t PT boats, per se. But it’s sort of the same thing although the action is boat-to-boat rather than boat-to-air.

This game is a load of fun. You can play missions or just have at it in a free-for-all death match. It’s always hell for me to remember which button does what. The YouTube video is rather crude. It looks much better in actual gameplay. You can choose between several styles of boats, all with their own unique weaponry. One of the funnest things to so is to lay mines. And, yes, you better watch out or you might run over your own.

Here's another game I haven’t played: Knights of the Sea. It’s from 2004. sIt actually looks pretty cool. And it does feature some PT boats. A brief review here. I’d love to try it but another review here has the specs needed and I don’t have a modern PC to run it. You can download a demo here.

Timothy-
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Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 21, 2018, 20:39
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And one advantage of video games is that no one is really shooting at you. Unless you play the world control game from Never Say Never Again: They may not be shooting at you, but you do share the pain of defeat.

Brad-
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 22, 2018, 10:22
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I had to bale on China Seas. It’s a turkey. Really mediocre, barely an effort to do something interesting. Maybe it gets better when the pirates take over. I don’t know.

So I switched to a Bogie film: Action in the North Atlantic. I’m about three-quarters through it and this is a pretty good movie. Raymond Massey plays Capt. Steve Jarvis of the Merchant Marine and Bogie is his fist officer, Lt. Joe Rossi.

Wherever they go, they are plagued by u-boats. Eventually they sign onto a large convey and are given one of the new Liberty ships. They’re heading for Murmansk in Russia. This is a movie that isn’t afraid to show at least a little detail of what it was like to be in the merchant marine. You get a sense of time and place.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away, but they’ve done a great job showing some battle scenes, particularly the fiery damage after a torpedo hit. Unlike the last horrible Bogie film I watched (Across the Pacific with the anemic Mary Astor and horrible dialogue stuffed into everyone’s mouth), Bogie is smooth and understated as Jarvis’ first officer.

The work is spread around, including to Alan Hale who plays his type in this movie. But he’s still fun to watch. Ruth Gordon has a small role as Raymond Massey’s wife. I’ll always associate here with her later roles as the sarcastic, cranky old broad, whether in “Harold and Maude” or an old Columbo episode. It is a little strange seeing her play it straight as the young wife.

Timothy-
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Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 22, 2018, 13:54
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Action in the North Atlantic sounds familiar. I think it must have come up here before. I've course, when I think of Alan Hale I think of his son, who became famous as Skipper Jonas Grumby on Gilligan's Island. I also recall him from a later Wild Wild West episode in which, at the end, he plans to spend his vacation all alone on a desert island in fulfillment of a lifelong dream (accompanied by the theme music from his old show).

Perhaps the best wartime action fought by a Liberty ship involved the Stephen Hopkins, which fought the German armed merchant cruiser Stier to a draw (i.e., both ships were sunk), even though the German ship was far better armed. In verifying the data on wikipedia, I found that the first Liberty ship (Patrick Henry) was on one of the Murmansk convoys, the hard-fought PQ-18. It survived the war.

I recall that Columbo episode, in which Gordon plays a mystery writer who murders her nephew-in-life because she thinks he murdered his wife. At the end, she opines that if Columbo had investigated that case she wouldn't have needed to kill him. Of course, her great role as a crank would be Minnie Castevet in Rosemary's Baby. She was also in the obscure (but fun) comedy Scavenger Hunt.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: FilmStruck
on: July 23, 2018, 08:37
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Alan Hale Jr. is a spittin’ image of his father. You can’t see one and not think of the other.

I hadn’t heard of the Stephen Hopkins vs. Stier. Liberty Ships are interesting because, according to Wiki:

Mass-produced on an unprecedented scale, the Liberty ship came to symbolize U.S. wartime industrial output . . . Eighteen American shipyards built 2,710 Liberty ships between 1941 and 1945, easily the largest number of ships produced to a single design.

Only 4 exist today but apparently many lasted far beyond their original five-year design life. I’m not sure the Germans could have done this. They would have over-built them. Scroll down a little in that Wiki article and there’s an interesting time-lapse photo gallery of the construction of a Liberty ship, starting from Day 2 (laying of the keel plates) to day 24 (ship ready for launching). Yikes. That’s fast production. But for a while there, the Germans could sink them (or other vessels) about as fast as they could be built.

All in all, Action in the North Atlantic is an effective historical movie. I highly recommend it.

On the other hand, I can take or leave A Passage to Marseille. It’s too slow to develop and it’s story-telling through two-layers of flashbacks (flashbacks within flashbacks, if you can believe it) isn’t particularly hard to follow but it begs the question: Who would want to follow it?

This is a movie that has star power but unfortunately that’s about all it has. Yes, there are some good moments with Bogie shooting at German planes but those moments are too few and far between. I guess we’re supposed to be so dazzled by the band getting back together again (Bogart, Rains, Lorre) that we don’t notice the thin script. One reviewer calls it “Papillon in flashback” which isn’t far from the truth. One is better off watching the original (which would come much later, of course) with Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman.

If one wants to watch a French resistance movie, I recommend The Train with Burt Lancaster. His French accent is as non-existent as Bogie’s but it’s a very good movie.

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