An Annapolis Story
Cast & Crew
Jim Scott and his younger brother Tony are both midshipmen at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and Jim's devotion to his brother prompts him to tutor him in a difficult subject so that Tony can play in the upcoming Navy vs. Army football game. Tony passes his test and helps to win the game, much to the delight of Jim and their friends, Spud Dooley and Willie Warren. After the game, Tony is subdued, for although he helped his team to score, the coach benched him for not following directions. Jim tells Tony that he must place teamwork and discipline ahead of his own desires, then persuades him to attend that night's dance to meet Peggy Lord, Jim's girl friend. Jim then goes to pick up Peggy, whom he met three years earlier when he was an enlisted sailor at San Diego. Jim and Peggy have not seen each other in the two years since he has been at Annapolis, but their romance is quickly rekindled, and Jim enthusiastically introduces her to Tony. As the rest of the term passes, the brothers study hard, and Jim reaches the top of his class. At the year-end dance, Peggy convinces Jim to wait to propose marriage until he returns from the "summer cruise" aboard a Naval vessel that all the midshipmen must make, especially as regulations prohibit them from marrying until he is promoted in a year's time. Jim, Tony and their friends are assigned to the same cruiser, where they are trained in numerous disciplines. One day, Jim goes up in a helicopter, while Tony is assigned to ride in a jet. After the jet malfunctions during take-off and crashes, Jim jumps from the helicopter into the ocean to rescue his unconscious brother. Worried that Tony may have a serious concussion, the Navy sends him back to the Academy to recuperate. Peggy visits Tony in the hospital, and after he is released, the couple begins spending time together, at first innocently, but soon Tony falls in love with Peggy. Overwhelmed by Tony's charm and persistence, Peggy returns his kisses, but turns down his marriage proposals. Later, when Jim returns from sea duty, Tony admits to his relationship with Peggy, and the infuriated Jim confronts Peggy, who, provoked by his rude accusations, slaps him. Jim tries to get re-assigned to a different room, but is forced to continue sharing with Tony, who is baffled by his hostility. Jim berates Tony for "stealing" the one thing in life that he truly wanted, then, as the year progresses, continues to snub his brother. The war in Korea breaks out the week before graduation, and after the graduation ceremony, Tony, having now been promoted to ensign, again asks Peggy to marry him, but she adamantly refuses. Both brothers are sent with Spud and Willie to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, where they begin their training as jet pilots. After their initial classes, they are transferred to Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Advanced Training Command, and soon have graduated and are ready to ship out to the West Coast. Tony plans on spending his five-day leave visiting Peggy, but upon learning that she has traveled with her father, Capt. Lord, to his new position in Tokyo, instead goes home with Jim to bid farewell to their mother. After their leave, the brothers are assigned to the same aircraft carrier, where Jim rebuffs Tony's efforts to reconcile. The flight squadron is rewarded with leave in Tokyo for completing several successful missions, and Tony eagerly anticipates spending time with Peggy. When they meet, however, Peggy confesses to Tony that she can no longer date him because she has realized that she still loves Jim. Tony takes her admission gracefully and advises her to tell Jim, although she believes that he will never be able to forgive her. Tony gets drunk before returning to the ship, and is still hungover when the squadron is summoned for an emergency briefing. Tony tries to talk to Jim before they take to the air, but Jim ignores him, and as a result, the squadron begins its mission to provide air support for ground troops without Jim learning that Peggy still loves him. During the air battle, Jim is hit, and as he slips into unconsciousness, his plane spirals out of control. Tony follows his brother's plane, and his persistent pleas over the radio rouse Jim in time for him to hit the eject button and bail out before his plane crashes into the ground. Jim lands in the water, and Tony circles overhead, fighting off an enemy plane as a rescue helicopter saves Jim. Later, Tony goes to the Tokyo hospital where Jim is convalescing, and as he enters Jim's room, smiles broadly upon seeing Jim and Peggy kissing.
L. Q. Jones
Betty Lou Gersen
Lt. Robert Boniol
John L. Banse
Joseph W. Crosley
Mitchell G. Kovaleski
Commander Marcus L. Lowe Jr. U.s.n.
Lester A. Sansom
Allen K. Wood
An Annapolis Story
The film stars Kevin McCarthy and John Derek as brothers Jim and Tony Scott, who are midshipmen at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. As the oldest, Jim shoulders the responsibility for guiding the handsome but impulsive Tony. Jim helps Tony pass a difficult test so the latter can play football in the big Army-Navy game, but Tony's lack of discipline and his unwillingness to follow the coach's directions get him benched. The sequence sets up the close relationship between the two brothers but also demonstrates their opposing personalities.
Later, at the celebratory dance, Jim proudly introduces the dashing Tony to his long-time girlfriend, Peggy. Jim wants to marry Peggy, but she prefers to wait until he returns from his mandatory stint aboard a navy ship.
Jim and Tony are assigned to the same ship, and Jim continues to look out for his younger brother. During a maneuver at sea involving helicopters and naval jets, Tony's plane crashes into the water, rendering him unconscious with a head injury. Ever the responsible brother, Jim dives from a helicopter into the sea to rescue him. The two brothers are separated for the first time when Tony is sent to the Naval Academy hospital to recuperate. While Jim continues his training aboard ship, Peggy and Tony grow close. Like his older brother, Tony is smitten by Peggy's charm and proposes marriage, but she turns him down. When Jim returns, he discovers their betrayal, creating a rift between the two brothers and altering his typically good-natured personality.
After graduation, the brothers serve together at the Pensacola Naval Station, where they begin training as jet pilots. Tony attempts to patch up the relationship, but the angry, embittered Jim refuses. In the meantime, the Korean Conflict escalates, resulting in the assignment of Tony and Jim to an aircraft carrier overseas. On leave in Tokyo, Tony tries to rekindle his fling with Peggy, but she admits that she still loves Jim. Tony discovers the meaning of maturity when the tables are turned, and he not only rescues his older brother during a dangerous mission but steps aside so Jim and Peggy can reconcile.
An Annapolis Story was shot on Allied Artists' tiny, run-down backlot, much to the dismay of director Don Siegel. Producer Walter Mirisch, who did not have much interest in the film, instructed Siegel to shoot it as quickly as possible. In lieu of location shooting at Annapolis, the studio provided stock footage for the necessary shots of the Naval Academy campus. Siegel was handed all manner of pre-existing color footage of Annapolis, including 16mm shots, 8mm bits, and even still photographs, which he had to integrate into the scenes and sequences. Allied Artists wanted the film to be in color, which on the surface might seem extravagant given the budget and schedule. But, Siegel and cinematographer Sam Leavitt were assigned one huge, old-fashioned Technicolor camera, which represented the state of the studio's ancient equipment. The camera's large casing hampered its maneuverability, requiring more time and effort in set-up.
Don Siegel proved the perfect director for such a project. He began his career at Warner Bros., where he worked his way up from the film library to the insert department to editorial to become an assistant editor. In the late 1930s, he was placed in charge of the montage department, where he composed Hollywood-style montages--those rapid-fire sequences consisting of brief shots edited together to condense space, time, and information--for Warner Bros.'s major feature films, including Casablanca (1942), Action in the North Atlantic (1943), Sergeant York (1941), and To Have and Have Not (1944). While churning out montages, he also served as an assistant director and second-unit director. His education at Warners gave him a thorough understanding of shot construction, whether it be the function of one insert (generally, a close-up of a person or object that is photographed separately from the rest of a scene) or the impact of a series of shots edited together. If there was one director who could coherently integrate a variety of stock footage shots into a narrative scene or sequence, it was Siegel.
Siegel's background at Warner Bros. influenced his overall style as a director as well as his working methods. He left Warners in 1946 to pursue a career as a free-lance director for a variety of studios that quickly realized the benefits of hiring Siegel. By meticulously planning his shots, particularly for action sequences, he not only worked quickly but also shot less film. The studios appreciated the time and cost efficiency, while Siegel enjoyed greater control over the finished product because there were fewer takes of specific shots and scenes for producers to use to re-edit his films.
An Annapolis Story benefitted from the Siegel touch. His personal style was a version of Hollywood's classic narrative style in which the story is foregrounded over the visual techniques that support the narrative without overshadowing it. Like much of Siegel's work, An Annapolis Story was a tightly structured narrative propelled by forceful pacing, which helped gloss over the weaknesses or clichés in the script. Siegel preferred lean, uncluttered narratives, and, while the storyline for An Annapolis Story may be burdened with one too many plot turns, it never meanders away from the central conflict between the two brothers. Siegel liked to have the script finalized and the film completely cast before production. In the case of An Annapolis Story, John Derek, who was originally signed to play Jim, threw him a curve ball when he wanted to change roles with Kevin McCarthy at the last minute. Siegel tried to convince him that the character of Jim was the juicier role, but the two leads switched anyway--a better casting decision in retrospect.
Siegel's skills in editing made him one of the era's best directors of action sequences. He tended to stage a variety of set-ups and shot them from a number of angles to create a kinetically charged chase, crash, or explosion. Several action scenes add spice to An Annapolis Story, including Tony's plane crash into the sea and the final air and ground battle.
In later years, Siegel became known for his antihero protagonists, characters who are disgruntled, alienated, or antisocial. Often, his hard-edged protagonists and memorable antagonists hold so much in common that they serve as mirror images of each other. His early films from the 1950s, especially those he undertook for the money or experience, don't always feature such edgy protagonists, but they do offer evidence of Siegel's inclinations and preferences. In An Annapolis Story, Jim and Tony are close brothers who have opposing personalities. Jim is a responsible, mature, good-natured man who sacrifices his personal desires and safety for those he loves, especially Tony. In contrast, the too-handsome Tony is an impulsive, self-centered but charismatic character who pursues his own goals with little thought to others. After Tony falls in love with Peggy, the brothers switch personalities to some degree: An angry Jim keeps to himself while brooding over the betrayal, and Tony makes personal sacrifices for the sake of his older brother.
An Annapolis Story is seldom discussed in overviews of Don Siegel's career. Though reflective of his style and working methods, the film has the misfortune of bad timing. It follows Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), which was Siegel's breakthrough film, and it precedes one of his masterworks, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which also stars Kevin McCarthy. Sandwiched between two significant films, An Annapolis Story has been overlooked and under-discussed.
Producer: Walter Mirisch for Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Director: Don Siegel
Screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring (as Geoffrey Homes) and Daniel B. Ullman
Cinematography: Sam Leavitt
Editor: William Austin
Music: Marlin Skiles
Visual Effects: Ray Mercer
Special Effects: Augie Lohman
Cast: Tony Scott (John Derek), Peggy Lord (Diana Lynn), Jim Scott (Kevin McCarthy), Willie Warren (Alvy Moore), Spud Dooley (Pat Conway), Watson (L. Q. Jones), Macklin (John Kirby), Mrs. Scott (Barbara Brown), Connie (Fran Bennett), Mrs. Lord (Betty Lou Gerson), Air Group Commander Austin (Robert Osterloh), Boxing Coach (John Doucette).
by Susan Doll
An Annapolis Story
The working title of this film was The Annapolis Story. The picture begins and ends with an offscreen narrator (Richard Carlson) describing the traditions and history of the United States Naval Academy. Before the end credits, the following written statement appears: "We desire to express grateful appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy, for the cooperation which was extended on the production of this picture. We especially salute the officers and midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the officers and men on whose ships many of the sequences were filmed." The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order.
A June 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that John Agar was originally to be borrowed from Universal for a leading part. According to summer 1954 Hollywood Reporter news items, first Debra Paget and then Terry Moore were considered for the role of "Peggy Lord," and Richard Jaeckel was signed for the part of "Jim Scott." When Jaeckel bowed out of the role due to a conflicting commitment, according to an August 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, he was replaced by Kevin McCarthy. John Derek was borrowed from Paramount for the production.Atlhough a August 24, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Murray Pollack in the cast, his appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. According to a September 20, 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, Alvy Moore, who played "Willie Warren," was stricken with polio while filming An Annapolis Story, but recovered within a month.
The picture contains considerable footage of real activities at the Naval Academy and onboard aircraft carriers. It additionally contains footage of jet manuevers. According to November 1953 Hollywood Reporter news items, background footage was shot by Allied Artists at the Academy in the spring of 1952. Modern sources note, however, that sequences with the actors were filmed entirely on the studio's backlot, and not on location. On August 16, 1954, Hollywood Reporter reported that location shooting was to take place at the North Hollywood Park, the University of California, Los Angeles athletic field, the Ventura Pier and the Bernheimer estate in the Hollywood hills, CA.
Released in United States Spring April 1955
Released in USA on video.
Released in United States Spring April 1955