Monday, May 05, 2014

Crash Dive (1943)

This entry is for the Power-Mad blogathon, celebrating Tyrone Power's 100th birthday!  Check out the link for all kinds of wonderful entries on Tyrone Power.

I opted to write about 1943's Crash Dive.  I'd originally watched this movie back in October of 2005.  At the time, I was in the midst of watching all of Dana Andrews' films.  While I knew Tyrone Power, I hadn't watched that many of his films at that time. So, the first time I watched this movie, I was mostly irritated at how much screen time Power got, as opposed to Andrews.  I have not watched this movie since gaining a big appreciation for Tyrone Power, so I thought it was high time for a re-watch.

Crash Dive is a WWII submarine movie, that works well enough if you don't think about it too much.  Power plays Lt. Ward Stewart, who gets yanked off his PT boat and returned to submarine duty.  He is assigned as Executive Officer on Dewey Connors' (Dana Andrews) boat, the USS Corsair.  Before they set sail, though, Stewart goes to Washington D.C. on leave and meets, purely by accident, Connors' girlfriend, Jean, played by Anne Baxter.  He has no idea she's dating his new skipper, she's just a very pretty girl he's attracted to, and so the movie heads into love-triangle territory.  The movie spends a large chunk of time ashore, attending to the romance angles of the plot.  The sub heads out on patrol, sinks a German Q-boat.  This sets up the last part of the movie, where the sub heads out to locate and destroy the German supply base that is sending out the Q-boats. 

This is a movie where if Ward Stewart was played by anyone other than Tyrone Power, I probably would not like him very much, the way he uses deception to get Anne Baxter to go out on a date with him.  Because she's already seeing Dana Andrews, she tells Stewart multiple times she's not interested, even stands him up on their second date, etc.  He refuses to leave her alone and ends up both helping her without her knowledge, while basically blackmailing her at the same time.  But at the same time, he's got that Tyrone Power smile going on, and I get the feeling he would back off if his scheme didn't work, and he does finally agree to leave her alone after one final date, if that's her wish.  Of course, by that point, she has fallen in love with him.

Back in the day, I was always mad that she chose Tyrone Power over Dana Andrews, but now... well, Tyrone's character pursues her, and Dana sits back waiting for the perfect time, and so this time around, it all worked for me.

The always charming Power

But the best parts of the movie are when the Corsair is at sea.  Its first mission has them locating, then playing hide and seek with the Q-Boat.  This is probably my favorite section of the movie. Submarines are one of my first loves, particularly WWII subs, and I never really tire of watching them at work, no matter the movie.  Both leads each get their fair share of the limelight.  Connors' possum tactics allow them to escape the Q-Boat's depth charge attack.  Then when Connors gets knocked out, Stewart takes over and sinks the Q-Boat. 

The second big action scene is when the Corsair follows a tanker into the secret German supply base, and the crew goes commando and blows the place to smithereens.  If you ignore the fact that a submarine crew wouldn't be trained for any of that, the ending is quite exciting.  Again, both leads get to shine.  While Stewart leads the commando team ashore, Connors torpedoes the German ships in the harbor.  Mission accomplished, the sub barely escapes the harbor's guns.  The effects are quite good for the time period, and this movie won an Oscar for them.  My favorite part of the finale is when the submarine sneaks into the harbor, which is filled with mines.  I'm a complete sucker for those tense moments when a mine cable audibly drags against the sub, the mine getting tugged closer and closer to the sub's hull, only to slip free at the last moment... 

As much as I love Dana Andrews, this movie is really Tyrone Power's.  There are few scenes without him, and it's his charisma that drives the romance subplot.  I also love the friendship that develops between Connors and Stewart, and the two actors seem to have a lot of fun when they're together.  They have a great scene after returning from their first mission where they go to the officer's club to share a giant plate of fruit and vegetables and a pitcher of milk.

This was Power's last film before going into the war.

Periscope ornamentation

Even better periscope ornamentation

I'm not sure you could have two more handsome men commanding a submarine!


  1. Anonymous11:24 AM

    This is a great film, and a great choice for the blogathon. Strangely, not many folks that I talk to have ever seen it, so kudos for making it your pick!

    Clayton @ Claytonology

  2. I have always found this as a rather unique entry in Ty's career. As a lover of submarine films, I of course find that portion of the film most interesting, and I agree that you have to suspend some sense of reality when watching this one.

    And a great pick for the Power-Mad blogathon!

  3. You know, I've only seen this once, but my dad has it, so IF we get to go to my folks' place soon, I may pull it out and see if anyone wants to watch it with me. With as much as my kids loved Operation Pacific, maybe I could show them parts of this too.

  4. Thank you so much for this terrific addition to the blogathon. It was wonderful having you aboard to celebrate Tyrone's 100th birthday.

    I happen to like submarine films too, and this is one of my faves. I used to place this in my top-5 faves of Tyrone Power films, but after catching a few "new to me" adventure/swashbucklers in the last couple years, "Crash Dive" has moved down a bit---but only barely. I still like this one alot, and I agree with you about there not being 2 more handsome men in command.

    The only way to make Power more gorgeous than he already is, is to put him in those Naval dress blues! Wowsers!

    Interestingly, when we watched this as a family several years ago, my daughter felt the same way you did about Tyrone getting the girl. She was irritated by that, and as a result, she has gone into most Tyrone Power films already biased against him!

    Again, thanks so much for participating in the blogathon.

  5. I saw Crash Dive for the first time last year and was pleasantly surprised. I wasn't sure what to expect but the wartime story and three talented leads - Power, Andrews & Baxter - were enjoyable. If I remember correctly, James Gleason gets killed during the commando raid and, naturally, I wasn't too happy about that (love him).