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Film / In Harm's Way

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A 1965 epic based on James Bassett's novel of World War II, directed and produced by Otto Preminger and featuring an All-Star Cast including John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda. It's notable for being one of the last World War II movies (and the last John Wayne movie) to be shot in black and white.

For the trope of the same name, go here.

In Harm's Way includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronism Stew: The hairstyles and civilian dress in the movie were contemporary to the time it was made, rather than the time it takes place. Similarly, the movie features various smaller vehicles that were not in the US inventory at the time, including the HU-16 Albatross Flying Boat and the M151 MUTTs pretending to be WWII era jeeps.
  • Badass Family: Rock and his son Jeremiah are both naval officers, and end up fighting in the same naval battle.
  • Creator Cameo: Jerry Goldsmith as the piano player.
  • David vs. Goliath: The film's climax, with Rock Torrey leading an outmatched force of cruisers, destroyers, and PT boats against a much larger Japanese force. Most vividly demonstrated in Jeremiah Torrey's PT boat raid on the Japanese fleet early in the battle.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Averted with Paul Eddington. After he rapes Annalee and she commits suicide, Eddington goes on a One-Way Trip in a bomber to try and find the Japanese fleet, and is shot down and killed shortly after calling his sighting in. Several of Torrey's staff (who don't know about the rape) think his action is heroic and want him to be awarded a Medal of Honor. But Torrey does know about the rape and understands why Eddington did what he did, says that Eddington was never into medals and refuses to recommend him for any award.
  • Doom Magnet: Paul Eddington. Every character within two degrees of separation of him (via sexual relationships) dies before the credits roll.
  • Driven to Suicide: Both Eddington and Annalee.
  • Military Brat: Jeremiah Torrey, who has become an officer in the Navy like his father. The two have a strained relationship.
  • Operation: [Blank]: "Skyhook", a planned offensive to seize the island of Levu-Vana to use as a base for American heavy bombers. Loosely based on "Operation Watchtower" to take the Solomon Islands chain from the Japanese, which was known among the troops as "Operation Shoestring" because of the very small amount of resources available.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • Eddington, after his wife's cheating ways, and her death during the Pearl Harbor raid (along with an extramarital lover of hers) drives him to drinking and brawling. He's reassigned as "officer in charge of piers and warehouses" on an obscure island.
    • After Torrey's cruiser is torpedoed and nearly sunk by an enemy sub, Torrey is removed from command and sent to a desk job — an important desk job, but still a desk job, which is clearly a demotion for a warship commander.
  • The Scapegoat: Captain Rock Torrey is ordered to take a ragtag force of cruisers and destroyers and pursue the Japanese force that launched the attack on Pearl Harbor, despite being undermanned and low on fuel. To save fuel he doesn't use zigzagging, an important defense against enemy submarines. The force is spotted and attacked by a Japanese submarine, resulting in heavy damage to Torrey's own ship. He is then relieved of command and sent to a desk job. It's clear that the decision is unjust; Torrey was following orders and as he says himself, "Under the circumstances, I could only assume that my ship was considered expendable."
  • Seastrike Impossible: Jeremiah's PT boat squadron makes a torpedo run on the much larger Japanese fleet under cover of darkness. They get badly mauled for their trouble, but cripple several Japanese ships. Jeremiah is killed in the battle.
  • Sex Signals Death: Seemingly the cause for Doom Magnet.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: A highly-fictionalized account of the bloody Solomon Islands campaign and the even-bloodier sea battles that went with it. Levu-Vana and Gavubutu are expies of Guadalcanal and Rabaul. The big final fight is equally loosely based on the "Bloody Friday" brawl off Guadalcanal on November 12-13, 1942, in which an American cruiser-destroyer force fended off a Japanese force led by a pair of battleships.