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...
This was Power's last film before going into the war.
Even better periscope ornamentation
I'm not sure you could have two more handsome men commanding a submarine!