powered by AFI
DVDs from TCM Shop
The working titles of this film were Pay to Learn and Battle Stations. The opening credits feature a foreword that reads: "The Navy comes through has been such an established fact that it is now taken for granted. As a result, we do not realize that the backbone of the Navy is not ships, planes and submarines-BUT MEN." According to the Daily Variety review, Borden Chase's short story "Pay to Learn" was the only story ever to be published twice by Saturday Evening Post. A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that this production marked the studio's first use of a new radio signal trademark that spelled out the word "victory." Prior to this, the studio's radio signal trademark spelled out "RKO."
According to pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter, Eddie Albert was slated for the role of "Thomas Sands" until a scheduling conflict prevented his appearance. The role was then assigned to Randolph Scott, who was later replaced by George Murphy. Another pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter credits Robert Stevenson as director. This picture marked Islin Auster's debut as a RKO producer and Lee Bonnell's last appearance before joining the Coast Guard. News items in Hollywood Reporter note that art director Carroll Clark and Albert D'Agostino developed a special sky and horizon machine for this film that created the effect of water motion against the horizon. The Hollywood Citizen-News adds that the sea shots were filmed on land using rocking arc lamps that projected waves upon an acre of muslin. The guns in the film were built from junkyard materials, according to Hollywood Citizen-News. The film's world premiere was held on Navy Day at the Treasure Island Naval Base in San Francisco, CA. This picture received an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects. In January 1943, the story was dramatized on "Anchors Away," a government-sponsored radio program broadcast over the Mutual Network. Henry Fonda, who was in the Navy at the time, played the part of Thomas Sands in that production. Pat O'Brien and George Murphy reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on May 3, 1943, and O'Brien played his role again in a second Lux broadcast on November 29, 1943.