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After a year or so of appearing in comedies, Glenn Ford returned to drama in Torpedo Run (1958), a WWII submarine movie in which he plays a sub commander relentlessly chasing a Japanese aircraft carrier. His chase is not just a matter of carrying out a mission, however - it's personal. Earlier in the war, the aircraft carrier was protecting itself behind a transport ship carrying hundreds of American prisoners, including Ford's wife and daughter. Ford tried to sink the aircraft carrier anyway but ended up sinking the transport. Ever since, he has become obsessed with enacting revenge.
Ernest Borgnine co-stars as Ford's lieutenant and best friend, who gave up the chance to command his own sub in order to keep working with Ford. Their friendship becomes strained as Ford drives his entire crew to the breaking point. Eventually, the script works in a sequence where crew members must escape the submarine from the ocean floor by using Momsen lungs (special breathing devices), even though they are in Arctic waters. The use of Momsen lungs is quite rare in submarine movies and as such is an interesting element to an otherwise standard film. (One earlier picture which featured Momsen lungs was 1937's Submarine D-1.)
Director Joseph Pevney started in vaudeville as a song and dance man and later worked as nightclub entertainer and stage actor. He acted in a few 1940s films noirs before turning to directing in the 1950s. He helmed several features and then settled down in television soon after making Torpedo Run. For the small screen he directed over a dozen episodes of Star Trek and many other popular TV series.
Torpedo Run, made with the full cooperation of the U.S. Navy, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects (A. Arnold Gillespie and Harold Humbrock), even though reviewers were mixed about the effects, with some complaining that the miniatures were too obvious.
Producer: Edmund Grainger
Director: Joseph Pevney
Screenplay: William Wister Haines, Richard Sale
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Film Editing: Gene Ruggiero
Art Direction: Malcolm Brown, William A. Horning
Cast: Glenn Ford (Lt. Cmdr. Barney Doyle), Ernest Borgnine (Lt. Archer Sloan), Diane Brewster (Jane Doyle), Dean Jones (Lt. Jake Foley), L.Q. Jones ('Hash' Benson), Philip Ober (Adm. Samuel Setton).
C-96m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jeremy Arnold