Destroyer


1h 39m 1943
Destroyer

Brief Synopsis

The crew of a torpedoed ship fights to take out an enemy sub.

Film Details

Also Known As
Destroyer Men
Genre
Adventure
War
Release Date
Sep 2, 1943
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,946ft

Synopsis

After the famous Navy destroyer the S. S. John Paul Jones is sunk in the South Pacific during World War II, the Navy commissions a new destroyer to carry on her name and tradition. Steve "Boley" Boleslavski and Kansas Jackson, veterans of the World War I escapades of the Jones , proudly help build the new vessel. At her christening, Boley meets his old shipmate Clark, the commander of the new Jones . Their reunion gives Boley the idea of re-enlisting to serve on the Jones , but headquarters denies his request and assigns him to train recruits in San Diego instead. At the Naval base there, Boley is reunited with Kansas Jackson, one of his recruits. When his trainees are assigned to the Jones , Boley asks Clark to appoint him chief bosun's mate of the ship. Although Clark has already assigned Mickey Donohue to the position, he agrees to request Boley as his mate. Boley's appointment transforms him into a martinet, and he soon earns the animosity of the entire crew including Donohue, who has been re-assigned as gunner's mate. To insure cooperation between the two men, Clark arranges for Boley's daughter Mary to meet and woo Donohue. The ship's shakedown cruise results in disaster, and the malfunctioning equipment on board serves to inflame the already testy relations between Boley and his men, resulting in Boley's demotion. After Donahue is appointed the new mate, he agrees to allow Boley to remain onboard for Mary's sake. When a fire erupts in the engine room during the ship's speed trial, Boley risks his life to save the trapped crew members. Once the ship docks, Boley is ordered to remain onshore because of injuries he sustained in the fire. The ship is then assigned to carry mail because of her failure during sea trials, and the crew thinks that the vessel is jinxed and many apply for transfers. Meanwhile, Donohue proposes to Mary, and they secretly elope to avoid telling Boley of their marriage. When Boley returns to the ship and finds the crew packing, he rallies their spirits by recounting the heroics of Admiral John Paul Jones and the "tub" that he commanded. The men decide to remain onboard, and the ship sets sail for Dutch Harbor in the Northern Pacific. When Japanese bombers begin attacking American ships, the Jones is ordered into battle. Just as Washington rescinds the ship's permission to join the battle, she is attacked by Japanese planes. Although her hull is punctured by bombs, her artillery guns down all the enemy aircraft. Stalked by an enemy submarine, the Jones begins to sink and her engine fires are extinguished by the onrushing water. When the order comes to abandon ship, Boley begs for a few men to repair the rupture. Boley and his crew toil throughout the night, and with only thirty minutes remaining before daybreak, the repairs are completed and the ship's engines are fired. When the Japanese submarine surfaces to torpedo the Jones , the ship releases her depth charges. As the crew in their lifeboats cheer, the Jones then rams and sinks the enemy submarine. Both the Jones and Boley are redeemed by their act of heroism, and their victory is heralded throughout the country. Content with his success, Boley decides to leave the ship when it docks and is awarded the crew's admiration and the Jones commission pendant. When he steps onto the pier, he is greeted by Mary, who introduces him to her new husband, Donohue.

Cast

Edward G. Robinson

Steve "Boley" Boleslavski

Glenn Ford

Mickey Donohue

Marguerite Chapman

Mary Boleslavski

Edgar Buchanan

Kansas Jackson

Leo Gorcey

Sarecky

Regis Toomey

Lt. Comm. Clark

Ed Brophy

Casey

Warren Ashe

Lt. Morton

Craig Woods

Bigbee

Curt Bois

Yasha

Pierre Watkin

Admiral

Al Hill

Knife-eating sailor

Roger Clark

Chief engineer

Dean Benton

Fireman Moore

David Alison

Fireman Thomas

Paul Parry

Doctor

John Merton

Chief quartermaster

Don Peters

Helmsman

Virginia Sale

Spinster

Eleanor Counts

Sarecky's girl

Stanley Brown

Marine/Fireman

John Tyrrell

Marine

George Magrill

Marine

Shirley Patterson

Bigbee's girl

Dale Van Sickel

Sailor

Jack Gardner

Sailor

Roy Brent

Sailor

Pat West

M. C.

Pat O'malley

Postman

Gertrude Messinger

Girl

Addison Richards

Gerguson

Edmund Cobb

Workman

George Sherwood

Workman

Eddy Waller

Riveter

Billy Bletcher

Bucker

Lester Dorr

Ship fitter

Bud Geary

Ship fitter

Stephen Keyes

Seaman guard

David Mckim

Yeoman

Frank Beckford

Yeoman

Charles Sherlock

Chief machinist's mate

Eddie Hall

Austin, Bos's mate

George Bruggeman

Cook, Seaman First Class

Eddie Foster

Griffith, Gunner's mate

Eddie Dew

Survivor

Mauritz Hugo

Survivor

Don Mcgill

Survivor

Gene Rizzi

Survivor

Ronnie Rondell

Survivor

Lynton Brent

Doctor

Frank Melton

Doctor

Tristram Coffin

Doctor

Roy Darmour

Pharmacist mate

Frank Wayne

Pharmacist mate

Clark Ross

Pharmacist mate

Jerry Franks

Pharmacist mate/Bridge talker

Eddie Coke

Storekeeper

Billy Young

Storekeeper

Gerald Pierce

Storekeeper

Bobby Jordan

Sobbing sailor

Gerald Pierce

Sobbing sailor

David Holt

Sobbing sailor

Mel Schubert

James, Gunner's mate Third class

Lloyd Hanson

Collins, Seaman Second class

Neil Reagan

Lt. J. C. Randolph

Larry Parks

Ensign Johnson

Eddie Chandler

Chief gunner's mate

David Newell

Sound operator

Lloyd Bridges

Harmon

John Estes

Helmsman

Dennis Moore

Communications officer

Bob Milton

J.V. talker

Mickey Rentschler

J.V. talker

Charles Mcgraw

Assistant. chief engineer

Eddie Hearn

Capt. Thompson

Alma Carroll

Kenneth Macdonald

Film Details

Also Known As
Destroyer Men
Genre
Adventure
War
Release Date
Sep 2, 1943
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 39m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,946ft

Articles

Destroyer


In January 1943, Edward G. Robinson returned from a trip abroad on a cruise liner with Douglas Fairbanks, producer Alexander Korda, and a huge crew of merchant marines, R.A.F. members and British troops. As he noted in his autobiography, All My Yesterdays, "I returned to a Hollywood that was at war...In the next two or three years I made a lot of pictures: Destroyer (in which I had a higher mark than ever I did at Pelham Bay); Flesh and Fantasy, directed by a marvelous French refugee, Julien Duvivier; Tampico, with Victor McLaglen....and Mr. Winkle Goes to War. I felt they were all, at the very best, trivial. Yet, deep in my heart I was grateful that anybody could find a role for a fifty-one-year-old man."

For the first film, Destroyer (1943), the plot focused on the crew of a torpedoed ship that fights to take out an enemy sub. Robinson had had prior navy experience in World War I so he was right at home in this war drama. Recalling that period, he said, "I can best sum up my hitch in the navy by admitting that I learned more about ships and navigation and the fleet from a picture I made years later - Destroyer, with Glenn Ford - than I ever learned at Pelham Bay. I also learned to make a knot. I did all kinds of clerical and K.P. chores, worked on the coal pile doing what was widely known as shovel arms, even once got to get on the water (in a rowboat), earned three stripes as a first class seaman (though by no stretch of the imagination could I agree with the rating), and waited endlessly to be informed that I was to be sent to Washington to enter naval intelligence."

Robinson had gone to Columbia to make Destroyer, one of his few ventures into war pictures. According to Alan L. Gansberg in Little Caesar: A Biography of Edward G. Robinson (Scarecrow Press), Robinson "portrayed a middle-aged perfectionist in charge of a group of sailors who becomes a hero by manning a gun during a sea battle with Japanese. The critics recognized Destroyer for the piece of propaganda fluff it was, but Robinson was unconcerned. Instead, he went back to Universal for the first time in more than a decade and received top billing for Flesh and Fantasy, in which he appeared in one of three one-act plays produced by Charles Boyer and directed by Julien Duvivier (brought to America one step ahead of the Nazi invasion of France)."

Producer: Louis F. Edelman
Director: William A. Seiter
Screenplay: Borden Chase, Lewis Meltzer; Frank Wead (screenplay & story)
Cinematography: Franz F. Planer
Art Direction: Lionel Banks
Music: Anthony Collins
Film Editing: Gene Havlick
Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Steve Boleslavski), Glenn Ford (Mickey Donohue), Marguerite Chapman (Mary Boleslavski), Edgar Buchanan (Kansus Jackson), Leo Gorcey (Sarecky), Regis Toomey (Lt. Cmdr. Clark), Ed Brophy (Casey), Warren Ashe (Lt. Marton)
BW-99m.
Destroyer

Destroyer

In January 1943, Edward G. Robinson returned from a trip abroad on a cruise liner with Douglas Fairbanks, producer Alexander Korda, and a huge crew of merchant marines, R.A.F. members and British troops. As he noted in his autobiography, All My Yesterdays, "I returned to a Hollywood that was at war...In the next two or three years I made a lot of pictures: Destroyer (in which I had a higher mark than ever I did at Pelham Bay); Flesh and Fantasy, directed by a marvelous French refugee, Julien Duvivier; Tampico, with Victor McLaglen....and Mr. Winkle Goes to War. I felt they were all, at the very best, trivial. Yet, deep in my heart I was grateful that anybody could find a role for a fifty-one-year-old man." For the first film, Destroyer (1943), the plot focused on the crew of a torpedoed ship that fights to take out an enemy sub. Robinson had had prior navy experience in World War I so he was right at home in this war drama. Recalling that period, he said, "I can best sum up my hitch in the navy by admitting that I learned more about ships and navigation and the fleet from a picture I made years later - Destroyer, with Glenn Ford - than I ever learned at Pelham Bay. I also learned to make a knot. I did all kinds of clerical and K.P. chores, worked on the coal pile doing what was widely known as shovel arms, even once got to get on the water (in a rowboat), earned three stripes as a first class seaman (though by no stretch of the imagination could I agree with the rating), and waited endlessly to be informed that I was to be sent to Washington to enter naval intelligence." Robinson had gone to Columbia to make Destroyer, one of his few ventures into war pictures. According to Alan L. Gansberg in Little Caesar: A Biography of Edward G. Robinson (Scarecrow Press), Robinson "portrayed a middle-aged perfectionist in charge of a group of sailors who becomes a hero by manning a gun during a sea battle with Japanese. The critics recognized Destroyer for the piece of propaganda fluff it was, but Robinson was unconcerned. Instead, he went back to Universal for the first time in more than a decade and received top billing for Flesh and Fantasy, in which he appeared in one of three one-act plays produced by Charles Boyer and directed by Julien Duvivier (brought to America one step ahead of the Nazi invasion of France)." Producer: Louis F. Edelman Director: William A. Seiter Screenplay: Borden Chase, Lewis Meltzer; Frank Wead (screenplay & story) Cinematography: Franz F. Planer Art Direction: Lionel Banks Music: Anthony Collins Film Editing: Gene Havlick Cast: Edward G. Robinson (Steve Boleslavski), Glenn Ford (Mickey Donohue), Marguerite Chapman (Mary Boleslavski), Edgar Buchanan (Kansus Jackson), Leo Gorcey (Sarecky), Regis Toomey (Lt. Cmdr. Clark), Ed Brophy (Casey), Warren Ashe (Lt. Marton) BW-99m.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Destroyer Men. The film's prologue acknowledges the cooperation of the "officers and men of the U.S. Destroyer Base and U.S. Naval Training Station at San Diego, CA." The prologue describes the destroyers as "proud little ships because they bear the name of great heroes of the service and keep alive the fighting traditions of the Navy." News items in Hollywood Reporter yield the following information about the film's production: Janet Blair was initially slated to play "Mary." Although a pre-production news item claims that Gus Schilling was to play a principal role, he does not appear in the final film. Craig Woods made his film debut in this picture. Leo Gorcey was borrowed from M-G-M for the production.
       The sets for the film, which occupied four sound stages, were designed according to Navy specifications for warcraft. Lt. Comm. Donald Smith, the film's technical advisor, served as Navigation Officer on the U.S.S. Arizona until one month before the ship was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Ray Enright was assigned to shoot additional battle scenes because the film's original director, William Seiter, was working on a project at RKO. Edward G. Robinson and Marguerite Chapman reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on April 3, 1944, co-starring Dennis O'Keefe.