The Frogmen (1951)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1951,Story by , Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by .

World War II is being waged and the U.S. Navy has an elite team of divers who make up the Underwater Demolition Team, tasked with using their exceptional swimming skills to either clear underwater obstacles for subsequent attacks or to do the attacking themselves. Their group is being hosted on a ship with other Navy men under captain , the diving commandos unhappy for the loss of their previous leader who has just been replaced by Richard Widmark. Trying to whip the men into shape and do away with their petty grievances, Widmark comes down hard on the guys and cares more about sticking to the rules than upholding morale, which gets complicated when an injury involving coral poisoning makes it hard for him to take part in the missions he is assigning. He ruffles the feathers of the team’s most popular member () until a torpedo hits the side of their vessel and things change from there, putting their next mission in grave jeopardy and forcing them to band together if they’re going to survive and succeed. Movies set in battle are rarely this quiet and calm, no one seems to get their pulse up even when being shot at by hailstorms of bullets, but the photography is beautiful, especially underwater, and the well-constructed screenplay is enriched by great dialogue that overcomes familiar conflicts and characterizations (there’s always got to be a wiseguy from Brooklyn).

Academy Award Nominations:  Best Motion Picture Story; Best Cinematography-BW

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