Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Gallant Hours (1960)

I'm always leery about discussing films based on actual history. Hollywood has a tendency to rewrite history and I don't want to be the sucker. I'm going to throw that idea out the window for this post & put some trust into The Gallant Hours. This 1960 film starring James Cagney as Fleet Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey grabbed my attention for its 115 minutes, which is rare these days. If you have no interest in a lot of dialogue or military history, the film probably isn't for you.

The story revolves around Admiral Halsey's leadership in the Guadalcanal campaign in WWII. Not having much background on the Admiral, it's hard to do a comparison between his personality and Cagney's portrayal of him. Nonetheless, Cagney is able to create a solid character who doesn't pound his fist but instead connects with his men.

The film is full of familiar faces, many of them young. One of my favorite characters is the Admiral's aide, Lt. Cdr. Andy Lowe, played by Dennis Weaver. You'll also spot Richard Jaeckel and William Schallert.

Some additional observations on the film: the Japanese actors actually speak the language and we're shown subtitles, you see no battles or explosions, the choir soundtrack is a bit creepy - but effective.

I would be remiss in my duty if I didn't mention that the film was directed by Robert Montgomery and produced by Cagney-Montgomery Productions, their only film partnership. You'll also hear Bob's voice as narrator for background relating to the Admiral. It would be his last film direction.

HOLLYWOOD, May 20 -- HALSEY MEETS HIS MOVIE COUNTERPART -- Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., whose experiences during the Battle of Guadalcanal are being made into a movie, talks over the script today with producer-director Robert Montgomery and actor James Cagney, who'll portray the doughty World War II admiral on the screen. It was the first time Halsey had seen Cagney in his makeup for the role in the picture, "The Gallant Hours."


Anonymous said...

I can't believe I haven't seen this movie - clearly, I SUCK. Gah, it looks sooo good, and I alway smake a note to watch it, but I miss it every time it comes on! :(

Awesome review - makes me want to watch it so bad now!

Carrie said...

Your HS history teachers would be proud of you if you did ;)