The Sea Hornet


1h 24m 1951

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 6, 1951
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Long Beach, California, United States; Palos Verdes--Portuguese Cove, California, United States; Santa Catalina Island, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sea of Darkness by Gerald Drayson Adams (unpublished).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

A beautiful former WAVE, Sandra "Suntan" Radford, approaches deep sea diver Gunner McNeil with a job offer from seaside hotel manager Tony Sullivan. Sullivan wants Gunner to destroy a shipwreck, claiming that it is a menace to navigation, but Gunner, a Navy veteran, knows that a wreck 200 feet deep poses no threat, and flatly refuses the deal when Suntan will not name the wreck or its location. His buddy, Pete Hunter, is not so discerning, and smitten by Suntan's good looks and the big payoff, is lured away. He leaves a note for Gunner informing him that the job is located off Barracuda Point near Padre Harbor. Suspecting that the operation is illegal, Gunner sends his friend and co-worker, Swede, to play mother hen to the foolhardy Pete, but Swede joins the crew at the diving site just as Pete is pulled out of the water, dead from asphyxia. More mysteries await Gunner in Padre Harbor. The coroner's report, with information supplied by Sullivan, indicates that Pete died twenty miles from wreck, and though the sunken ship, Sea Hornet , carried $1,000,000 in gold, Sullivan failed to apply for salvage authorization. After learning this, Gunner negotiates with the insurance company for fifty percent of the wreck's salvage value and then checks into Sullivan's swanky Padre Inn, where Suntan works as a hostess. Believing her innocent demeanor to be a siren's facade, he is reproachful and distrusting during his encounter with her, and secretly curses all women, but then is tempted by the bold flirting of the inn's lounge singer, Ginger. That evening, as Gunner looks for the Revery , the boat used at the Sea Hornet diving site, he meets tiddly Mrs. Drinkwater, an amorous widow who lends her dory so that he can row out to the boat. Once there, Gunner arranges with its accordian-playing owner, Sprowl, to use the Revery the next morning, but as he returns to shore, a cruiser piloted by two of Sullivan's employees, Condor and Bone, crashes into the dory, and Gunner must swim to shore. The next day Ginger drives him downtown to talk to the police, but he gets an urgent message from Swede, and finds him fighting off Condor and Bone in his hotel room. After the thugs escape through the window, Gunner visits Lt. Drake, and convinces him to consider a murder investigation if he can find more evidence. Driving back, Ginger and Gunner pick up a hitchhiking sailor, who turns out to be Suntan's brother Johnny. At the inn, Suntan begs Gunner not to tell Johnny about the shipwreck, explaining that her father was its captain and died with the ship. Sullivan, who was the first mate, told her that Radford steered the ship into a reef while drunk. Out of loyalty, Sullivan reported that the ship has been torpedoed, and now wants to destroy evidence of Radford's misconduct before salvagers find it. Suntan claims that she wants to spare Johnny the truth about their father, but Gunner is skeptical of her story and angrily tells her so. That evening on their date, Ginger drugs Gunner, and when he awakens the next morning, the Radfords are waiting in his hotel room. Suntan explains that Gunner's harsh words prompted her to confide in Johnny, who agrees that Sullivan is hiding more than their father's supposed misdeed. They volunteer to help Gunner investigate the wreck, but warn him that Sullivan hired ex-convict Rocky to set the dynamite. Gunner still distrusts Suntan's relationship with Sullivan, until she explains that Sullivan and Ginger are secretly married. When Gunner, Swede and the Radfords board the Revery , Sprowl tries several tactics to delay their departure. After a fistfight, they throw him off the boat, and before he can cause more trouble, Mrs. Drinkwater knocks him out with a whiskey bottle. At sea, Rocky sets the dynamite on the wreck, but when the Revery approaches, Sullivan and his crew skip decompression procedures in a rush to bring him up, which kills him. Then they board the Revery when it pulls alongside their cruiser, but Gunner and his men beat them in a fight and tie them up. In spite of Sullivan's warning that the dynamite will explode in an hour, Gunner prepares to dive. Suntan begs him not to risk his life, finally convincing him of her sincerity, but he feels he must square things for Pete by learning the truth. After alerting the Coast Guard, Gunner dives and finds that the Sea Hornet was sunk by a hole blown from inside, not by a reef or torpedo. He also finds Radford's body stuffed in a closet. With fifteen minutes left before the explosion, Condor panics and confesses that Sullivan killed Radford for the gold and shut off Pete's air compression because he guessed the truth. Gunner ascends and a Coast Guard cutter arrives with a decompression tank and gets everyone safely away from the explosion. With Sullivan and his gang facing murder and battery charges, Condor confesses that the Sea Hornet 's gold is stashed in the Padre Inn's freezer. Because of his salvage contract, Gunner will get half of the gold's value, and though they have lost a lot, Gunner and Suntan are grateful to have each other.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 6, 1951
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Republic Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Long Beach, California, United States; Palos Verdes--Portuguese Cove, California, United States; Santa Catalina Island, California, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Sea of Darkness by Gerald Drayson Adams (unpublished).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Voice-over narration, spoken by Rod Cameron as "Gunner McNeil," is heard intermittently throughout the film. According to March and May 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items, portions of the film were shot at Long Beach and Portuguese Cove near Palos Verde, CA, and for the underwater sequences, at the Isthmus of Catalina.