Up Periscope


1h 51m 1959
Up Periscope

Brief Synopsis

A U.S. frogman infiltrates a Japanese-held island during World War II.

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Feb 9, 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lakeside Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up Periscope by Robb White (Garden City, NY, 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

In the South Pacific, in 1942, Capt. Paul Stevenson, commander of the submarine USS Barracuda , orders the ship to remain concealed long after a convoy of Japanese ships passes over them, rather than risk a skirmish with a straggling ship. His action delays the hospitalization of Ford, a crewman injured in a torpedo room accident who subsequently dies. However, Stevenson believes he acted in accordance with regulations by not alerting the enemy to the American presence in that area of the sea, thus ensuring that the plans for an impending Allied invasion have not been jeopardized. Meanwhile, in San Diego, California, Lt. j.g. Kenneth M. Braden graduates from the Navy's Underwater Demolition School and falls in love with Sally Johnson, unaware that she is a WAVE assigned to Naval Intelligence and has been ordered to check his suitability for a special mission. When he proposes to her after an acquaintance of only nine days, Sally, who has also fallen for Ken, avoids answering him. That evening, Ken is ordered to fly to Honolulu's Pearl Harbor immediately. In a nightclub there, he encounters members of the Barracuda 's crew, who are celebrating the completion of a fifty-seven-day tour of duty spent mostly underwater and, at the same time, mourning the death of their friend, for which they blame Stevenson. The crew's "freedom" ends prematurely when Phil Carney, the Barracuda 's "exec" officer, announces that leave has been canceled. The next morning, Ken is taken to the Barracuda , where Stevenson tells Ken that the Navy has discovered a Japanese radio station on the small island of Kusaie, where messages are broadcast in code to other Japanese in the South Seas. So far, the Allies have been unable to break the code, which would allow them to know the enemy's plans, send false information and set up decoys and traps, all of which would assist their invasion and save lives. Stevenson, Phil and Ken have been ordered to embark upon a clandestine operation in which the Barracuda is to take Ken to the waters around Kusaie, from where he will swim ashore. He is then to find and photograph the Japanese code book, without raising the enemy's suspicion that the code has reached Allied hands. Because he feels that sailing into the island's lagoon will endanger the vessel and its crew, Stevenson tells Ken that he must swim 2,000 yards to shore through dangerous coral reefs. Angry at what he perceives is the captain's lack of cooperation, Ken accuses him of endangering others with his "by the book" methods. However, despite his seemingly strict fa├žade, Stevenson is troubled by the crewman's death and the crew's anger at him, and confides his distress to Phil, the only person on board who is sympathetic to his dilemma. To reach their destination faster, Stevenson orders the sub to sail "topside," i.e., on the water's surface, making them visible to a Japanese Zero, which attacks them. Before the men can get below deck and submerge the ship, Phil and several other crew members are shot. Although most of the men descend to safety below deck, Phil is stranded topside. Looking through the periscope, Stevenson sees that Phil has been shot again and, believing him dead, orders the submarine to submerge to the safety of deep water. Stevenson then promotes Doherty to Phil's position. After eluding the plane, Stevenson is forced to take the sub to the surface for repairs. As Ken has special underwater training, he is chosen to swim below the craft to make repairs and is told that he will be considered "expendable" if the sub is attacked again. Just as Ken completes his task, a Japanese plane returns for them. Ensign Pat Malone shoots the plane down, but the crewmen assume that the pilot alerted others to their location before dying. When a Japanese destroyer approaches, Stevenson has the men pump oil into the water and fakes an explosion to give the impression that the sub is "dead." After the ship is lured toward them, the gunners fire torpedoes and sink it. Afterward, Malone learns that he has been promoted to lieutenant. By traveling below a Japanese ship, Stevenson is able to take the sub into Kusaie's lagoon, lessening the distance Ken must swim. However, the air supply of the submarine is low and cannot be replenished without revealing their location, so Stevenson gives Ken a deadline of eighteen hours to complete his task or be left behind. After swimming to shore, Ken buries his scuba diving equipment and narrowly misses being seen by Japanese residents playing baseball. He finds the radio station and checks out the wharf, then hides until dark. While waiting, he dozes and dreams of proposing to Sally, who he now feels betrayed him. At night, he dynamites the wharf to divert attention from his real task. Upon slipping through the window of the radio station, he finds and photographs the code book, while barely eluding the radio man there. Meanwhile, inside the sub, as the ten o'clock deadline passes, the men are suffering and edgy from the stale oxygen. According to regulations, Stevenson feels he is endangering the craft and crew by remaining, but he holds his position and taps on the wall of the sub to alert Ken to their position. Swimming underwater, Ken follows the sound to the submarine, his mission accomplished. By sunrise, the Barracuda is sailing topside in safe waters. Troubled, Stevenson writes a letter to headquarters requesting a board of investigation for his violation of naval regulations, in which he "knowingly hazarded his vessel" and endangered the lives of his crew. As the Barracuda reaches Pearl Harbor, many of the crewmen's friends are standing at the dock to welcome them back. While spotting Sally waiting for him in the crowd, Ken tells Stevenson that the letter he wrote has been "lost."

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Adventure
War
Adaptation
Release Date
Feb 9, 1959
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lakeside Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Up Periscope by Robb White (Garden City, NY, 1956).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 51m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Up Periscope


During the Pacific Campaign of World War II, submarine commander Stevenson (Edmond O'Brien) orders a demolition expert/frogman (James Garner) to land incognito on an enemy-held island in order to steal a top-secret codebook of the Japanese armed forces. Since time is of the essence on this mission, there is a distinct possibility that the submarine crew may have to abandon the demolition expert if he doesn't complete his quest in time. Complicating the assignment is the combative relationship between the by-the-rules commander and his rebellious, anti-authority recruit.

Thanks to his success in the popular television Western, Maverick (1957-1962), James Garner quickly moved from supporting parts in feature films to his first starring role in 1958 when he headed the cast of Darby's Rangers, a World War II action drama directed by William Wellman. Garner's performance as the mastermind of a special covert operation convinced Warner Brothers that he had the makings of a major star and they promptly cast him in yet another war thriller - Up Periscope (1959) - this time pairing him with two-time Oscar nominee Edmond O'Brien. While Up Periscope might not rank as the screen's greatest submarine adventure, it certainly was a step up for Garner. Budgeted at over a million dollars and produced in color and widescreen, it was not your standard B-movie and it was the first film to effectively showcase Garner's wry sense of humor, a talent he would hone to great effect in such sixties comedies as The Thrill of It All (1963) and Support Your Local Sheriff (1969).

Up Periscope is also notable for its supporting cast which includes Alan Hale, Jr. (who would soon find his niche as the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, 1964-67), Richard Bakalyan (best known for his juvenile delinquent roles in cult favorites like The Cool and the Crazy, 1958), Edd Byrnes (remember "Kookie" from the 1958 TV series, 77 Sunset Strip?) and Carleton Carpenter (a former singer/dancer from such MGM musicals as Three Little Words, 1950). Look for Warren Oates in a minor role as a sailor in the mess hall (It was his film debut). The direction is by Gordon Douglas, a respected craftsman of action features like the 3-D Western, The Charge at Feather River (1953), and the classic science-fiction thriller, Them! (1954).

Producer: Aubrey Schenck
Director: Gordon Douglas
Screenplay: Richard H. Landau, Robb White (novel)
Art Direction: Jack T. Collis
Cinematography: Carl E. Guthrie
Film Editing: John F. Schreyer
Original Music: Adolph Deutsch (uncredited), Ray Heindorf, Max Steiner (uncredited), Franz Waxman (uncredited)
Principal Cast: James Garner (Lt. Ken Braden), Edmond O'Brien (Stevenson), Andra Martin (Sally Johnson), Alan Hale, Jr. (Malone), Carleton Carpenter (Carney), Frank Gifford (Mount), William Leslie (Doherty), Edd Byrnes (Ash), Sean Garrison (Floyd), Richard Bakalyan (Peck).
C-112m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

Up Periscope

Up Periscope

During the Pacific Campaign of World War II, submarine commander Stevenson (Edmond O'Brien) orders a demolition expert/frogman (James Garner) to land incognito on an enemy-held island in order to steal a top-secret codebook of the Japanese armed forces. Since time is of the essence on this mission, there is a distinct possibility that the submarine crew may have to abandon the demolition expert if he doesn't complete his quest in time. Complicating the assignment is the combative relationship between the by-the-rules commander and his rebellious, anti-authority recruit. Thanks to his success in the popular television Western, Maverick (1957-1962), James Garner quickly moved from supporting parts in feature films to his first starring role in 1958 when he headed the cast of Darby's Rangers, a World War II action drama directed by William Wellman. Garner's performance as the mastermind of a special covert operation convinced Warner Brothers that he had the makings of a major star and they promptly cast him in yet another war thriller - Up Periscope (1959) - this time pairing him with two-time Oscar nominee Edmond O'Brien. While Up Periscope might not rank as the screen's greatest submarine adventure, it certainly was a step up for Garner. Budgeted at over a million dollars and produced in color and widescreen, it was not your standard B-movie and it was the first film to effectively showcase Garner's wry sense of humor, a talent he would hone to great effect in such sixties comedies as The Thrill of It All (1963) and Support Your Local Sheriff (1969). Up Periscope is also notable for its supporting cast which includes Alan Hale, Jr. (who would soon find his niche as the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, 1964-67), Richard Bakalyan (best known for his juvenile delinquent roles in cult favorites like The Cool and the Crazy, 1958), Edd Byrnes (remember "Kookie" from the 1958 TV series, 77 Sunset Strip?) and Carleton Carpenter (a former singer/dancer from such MGM musicals as Three Little Words, 1950). Look for Warren Oates in a minor role as a sailor in the mess hall (It was his film debut). The direction is by Gordon Douglas, a respected craftsman of action features like the 3-D Western, The Charge at Feather River (1953), and the classic science-fiction thriller, Them! (1954). Producer: Aubrey Schenck Director: Gordon Douglas Screenplay: Richard H. Landau, Robb White (novel) Art Direction: Jack T. Collis Cinematography: Carl E. Guthrie Film Editing: John F. Schreyer Original Music: Adolph Deutsch (uncredited), Ray Heindorf, Max Steiner (uncredited), Franz Waxman (uncredited) Principal Cast: James Garner (Lt. Ken Braden), Edmond O'Brien (Stevenson), Andra Martin (Sally Johnson), Alan Hale, Jr. (Malone), Carleton Carpenter (Carney), Frank Gifford (Mount), William Leslie (Doherty), Edd Byrnes (Ash), Sean Garrison (Floyd), Richard Bakalyan (Peck). C-112m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Up Periscope - James Garner in the WW2 Drama UP PERISCOPE on DVD


Warner Bros. resurrects the dependable submarine movie yet again to serve as a big screen transition for TV star James Garner. TV's Maverick had already played second fiddle to Marlon Brando and Tab Hunter and Up Periscope was his last program picture before the push into screen stardom. Adept at both comedy and drama, Garner was soon acting opposite top-caliber stars Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn as well as cementing his appeal in action films like The Great Escape.

Up Periscope is perhaps the least distinguished of a string of successful submarine pictures: Robert Wise's Run Silent, Run Deep, Dick Powell's The Enemy Below and Joseph Pevney's Torpedo Run all came out the year before. The script by Richard Landau simplifies Robb White's realistic source novel, but good work by director Gordon Douglas and cinematographer Carl Guthrie keeps the action on track.

Synopsis: Navy Frogman and commando Lt. Ken Braden (James Garner) is puzzled when his girlfriend Sally Johnson (Andra Martin) turns down his marriage proposal. Before he can hear her final answer, Ken is shipped out on a hazardous submarine mission. Ken's new commander Paul Stevenson (Edmond O'Brien) has a reputation as a cold regulations man and this new voyage isn't going to make his crew any happier. The submarine will spirit Braden to an enemy-held island, where he will sneak ashore to steal a Japanese codebook. Tensions mount along the way when it looks as if Stevenson's priorities are faulty: His idea of good planning is to make Braden swim 2,000 yards with his equipment, so as to avoid risking his submarine. What chance does the mission have if Braden is too exhausted to function once he reaches the shore?

Movie studios have long appreciated economical submarine pictures; take a look at Columbia's stock-footage epic Hellcats of the Navy, most of which takes place in tiny sets. Much of Up Periscope is filmed on a real submarine at sea, indicating full Navy cooperation. This may explain why the script is lacking in dramatic tension -- no matter what happens, Navy policy or prestige is never in question. The hero is a clean-cut college athlete with high marks in Oriental languages and an unswerving sense of duty. Played by handsome James Garner, he's an ideal late-50s recruitment symbol.

Up Periscope is not very subtle on land. Navy personnel spout lame terminology and talk in the hushed tones of military secrecy. Ken Braden romances the drop-dead beautiful Sally Marshall (Andra Martin) using 'beach maneuvers', a substitute expression for making out at the seashore. Ken is barely surprised when an officer reveals that Sally is a naval intelligence agent assigned to check up on him. The government may have a right to learn if Braden blabs classified information to his dates, but Up Periscope suggests that whatever relationship Sally and Ken develop will be closely monitored by the Navy.

We're also given to understand that a Honolulu bar is basically a brothel for jolly submariners. Three dark haired hula girls crowd around Alan Hale Jr.'s Ensign Malone as if he were a sultan. Officers like Braden get to date movie stars and non-coms spend time with B-girls from the starlet pool. Let's all enlist!

Things perk up once the mission is underway. Edmond O'Brien brings a needed credibility to the thinly written sub skipper, Stevenson. Already troubled by not being 'popular' with the crew, Stevenson claims that the safety of the ship is his first priority, even as he unwisely runs on the surface to save time. Stevenson then turns conservative, insisting that Braden must make a Marathon swim to the island so the sub can remain far out of harm's way. But the skipper softens when time runs out, waiting for Braden beyond the mission deadline and sending out audio signals to guide him back to the sub. Good acting by the reliable Edmond O'Brien minimizes these inconsistencies: Logic dictates that the success of Braden's crucial commando mission justifies almost any risk. The way Stevenson is written, his priorities vary between keeping his ship intact and being loved by his crew.

We can tell that the commando mission is going to be small in scale when Braden surfaces on the same rocky surf line where he played 'beach maneuvers' back in San Diego. He sneaks in and out, easily avoiding the Japanese and locating the all-important Military codebook. Again, James Garner's charisma and good looks excuse a lot of fuzzy details, such as the fact that Braden wears no face camouflage. And were officers really permitted to smoke cigarettes on submarines?

Alan Hale Jr. leads a supporting cast of familiar faces playing stale stereotypes. Ex- MGM musical prodigy Carleton Carpenter (Two Weeks With Love) is the earnest first officer and Richard Bakalyan a surly sea-lawyer. Edd "Kookie" Byrnes is the easygoing pharmacist's mate. Warren Oates has an unexceptional film debut as a sailor who likes to eat!

Warner DVD's Up Periscope looks great in CinemaScope, especially the scenes filmed on a real submarine at sea. Unlike some big-screen sub pictures, Gordon Douglas chooses angles that emphasize the tight spaces below decks. The enhanced transfer has few if any flaws, and the film's pick of stock library marching music sounds fine in the mono mix. The amusing original trailer features James Garner giving a quick personal tour of the submarine.

For more information about Up Periscope, visit Warner Video. To order Up Periscope, go to TCM Shopping.



by Glenn Erickson

Up Periscope - James Garner in the WW2 Drama UP PERISCOPE on DVD

Warner Bros. resurrects the dependable submarine movie yet again to serve as a big screen transition for TV star James Garner. TV's Maverick had already played second fiddle to Marlon Brando and Tab Hunter and Up Periscope was his last program picture before the push into screen stardom. Adept at both comedy and drama, Garner was soon acting opposite top-caliber stars Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn as well as cementing his appeal in action films like The Great Escape. Up Periscope is perhaps the least distinguished of a string of successful submarine pictures: Robert Wise's Run Silent, Run Deep, Dick Powell's The Enemy Below and Joseph Pevney's Torpedo Run all came out the year before. The script by Richard Landau simplifies Robb White's realistic source novel, but good work by director Gordon Douglas and cinematographer Carl Guthrie keeps the action on track. Synopsis: Navy Frogman and commando Lt. Ken Braden (James Garner) is puzzled when his girlfriend Sally Johnson (Andra Martin) turns down his marriage proposal. Before he can hear her final answer, Ken is shipped out on a hazardous submarine mission. Ken's new commander Paul Stevenson (Edmond O'Brien) has a reputation as a cold regulations man and this new voyage isn't going to make his crew any happier. The submarine will spirit Braden to an enemy-held island, where he will sneak ashore to steal a Japanese codebook. Tensions mount along the way when it looks as if Stevenson's priorities are faulty: His idea of good planning is to make Braden swim 2,000 yards with his equipment, so as to avoid risking his submarine. What chance does the mission have if Braden is too exhausted to function once he reaches the shore? Movie studios have long appreciated economical submarine pictures; take a look at Columbia's stock-footage epic Hellcats of the Navy, most of which takes place in tiny sets. Much of Up Periscope is filmed on a real submarine at sea, indicating full Navy cooperation. This may explain why the script is lacking in dramatic tension -- no matter what happens, Navy policy or prestige is never in question. The hero is a clean-cut college athlete with high marks in Oriental languages and an unswerving sense of duty. Played by handsome James Garner, he's an ideal late-50s recruitment symbol. Up Periscope is not very subtle on land. Navy personnel spout lame terminology and talk in the hushed tones of military secrecy. Ken Braden romances the drop-dead beautiful Sally Marshall (Andra Martin) using 'beach maneuvers', a substitute expression for making out at the seashore. Ken is barely surprised when an officer reveals that Sally is a naval intelligence agent assigned to check up on him. The government may have a right to learn if Braden blabs classified information to his dates, but Up Periscope suggests that whatever relationship Sally and Ken develop will be closely monitored by the Navy. We're also given to understand that a Honolulu bar is basically a brothel for jolly submariners. Three dark haired hula girls crowd around Alan Hale Jr.'s Ensign Malone as if he were a sultan. Officers like Braden get to date movie stars and non-coms spend time with B-girls from the starlet pool. Let's all enlist! Things perk up once the mission is underway. Edmond O'Brien brings a needed credibility to the thinly written sub skipper, Stevenson. Already troubled by not being 'popular' with the crew, Stevenson claims that the safety of the ship is his first priority, even as he unwisely runs on the surface to save time. Stevenson then turns conservative, insisting that Braden must make a Marathon swim to the island so the sub can remain far out of harm's way. But the skipper softens when time runs out, waiting for Braden beyond the mission deadline and sending out audio signals to guide him back to the sub. Good acting by the reliable Edmond O'Brien minimizes these inconsistencies: Logic dictates that the success of Braden's crucial commando mission justifies almost any risk. The way Stevenson is written, his priorities vary between keeping his ship intact and being loved by his crew. We can tell that the commando mission is going to be small in scale when Braden surfaces on the same rocky surf line where he played 'beach maneuvers' back in San Diego. He sneaks in and out, easily avoiding the Japanese and locating the all-important Military codebook. Again, James Garner's charisma and good looks excuse a lot of fuzzy details, such as the fact that Braden wears no face camouflage. And were officers really permitted to smoke cigarettes on submarines? Alan Hale Jr. leads a supporting cast of familiar faces playing stale stereotypes. Ex- MGM musical prodigy Carleton Carpenter (Two Weeks With Love) is the earnest first officer and Richard Bakalyan a surly sea-lawyer. Edd "Kookie" Byrnes is the easygoing pharmacist's mate. Warren Oates has an unexceptional film debut as a sailor who likes to eat! Warner DVD's Up Periscope looks great in CinemaScope, especially the scenes filmed on a real submarine at sea. Unlike some big-screen sub pictures, Gordon Douglas chooses angles that emphasize the tight spaces below decks. The enhanced transfer has few if any flaws, and the film's pick of stock library marching music sounds fine in the mono mix. The amusing original trailer features James Garner giving a quick personal tour of the submarine. For more information about Up Periscope, visit Warner Video. To order Up Periscope, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The onscreen opening credits erroneously listed film editor John F. Schreyer as John E. Schreyer. Appearing after the film is a written acknowledgment thanking the Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy and the officers and men of the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet for their cooperation. During the Kusaie Island sequence, "Ken's" memory of the night of his proposal to "Sally" is shown in flashback. About the ending, in which the crew's friends cheer them into the harbor, the otherwise favorable Variety review stated that it "seems a little unbelievable, considering it's wartime."
       According to a March 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, Tab Hunter was set to appear in the film, providing that it did not conflict with the schedule of Damn Yankees (see entry above), in which he had already been cast, and that Howard W. Koch, who was co-producer of the final film, would direct. An April 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Koch and his co-producer Aubrey Schenk had planned to shoot the film in Technirama in Hawaii. According to a July 1958 Los Angeles Mirror-News article, portions of the film were shot at sea on the Pacific aboard the submarine USS Tilefish. The Hollywood Reporter review reported that the film was shot "on expensive locations in the Pacific.
       An August 1957 Daily Variety news item reported that the rights to Robb White's novel Up Periscope were purchased by the "producing trio" of Edwin F. Zabel, Koch and Schenk and that White was to write the screenplay. However, White is not credited as writer onscreen and the extent of is contribution to the final film has not been determined. An August 1957 Los Angeles Times news item reported that Tony Curtis was sought for the lead role. Joanna Barnes was considered a "strong contender" for a lead role in the film, according to a June 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, and is listed in an Hollywood Reporter production chart. However, neither Barnes, Curtis, nor Hunter appear in the film.
       The following actors were added to the cast by July and August Hollywood Reporter news items, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed: January Brooks, Roger Smith, Fay Roope and Fugi Kawada. Appearing in the nightclub scene was Peggy Moffitt, an actress/fashion model who played in a handful of films over eleven years, beginning with the 1955 Paramount production, You're Never Too Young . Moffitt was better known in the mid-1960s for modeling the topless swimsuit which was designed by Rudi Gernreich and photographed by William Claxton, who became her husband. ^Up Periscope marked the motion picture debut of Rian Garrick.
       After completion of Up Periscope, according to an August 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, Frank Gifford, who played "Mount" in the film, was given a six-month leave of absence from Warner Bros. to attend the New York Giants training camp in Salem, OR. Gifford did not appear in a feature film again until 1968, when he played himself in Paper Lion. A USC All-American player in the early 1950s who marked his film debut and served as technical director and trainer in the 1953 U-I film, All-American (see entry above), Gifford became a star running back and, later, flanker, for the Giants. In 1956, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the National Football League, and he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977. After his retirement from football in the mid-1960s, he became a sportscaster, most memorably on Monday Night Football, on ABC-TV from 1971-1998. Besides the handful of films in which he appeared during the 1950s, Gifford continues to appear in television and in films, usually as himself.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1959

Released in United States on Video May 13, 1992

Warren Ooates makes his screen debut in a bit part

WarnerScope

Released in United States 1959

Released in United States on Video May 13, 1992