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In Harm's Way

1,543 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

In Harm's Way (DVD)

In Harm's Way, based on James Bassett's novel Harm's Way, has enough plo t in it for four movies or a good miniseries (when it was sh own on netw ork television in prime time, it was broken into two very full nights). On the morning of December 7, 1941, a heavy cruis er, commanded by Capta in Rockwell Torrey (John Wayne), and the destroyer Cassidy, under acting commander Lieutenant (jg) William McC onnell (Thomas Tryon), are two of a handful of ships that escape the destruction of the Japanese attack o n Pearl Harbor. Under Torre y's command, the tiny fleet of a dozen ships carries out its orders to seek out and engage the enemy fleet. But lack of fuel and a d aring maneuver (but tragic miscalculation) by Torrey ca uses his ship to be seriously damaged. He's relieved of command and assi gned to a desk job routing convoys in the shakeup following the attack, and his exec and oldest friend, Commander Paul Eddington (Kirk Do uglas) , is reassigned after a brawl, the result of his anger after identifying the body of his wife (Barbara Bouchet) who was killed during the attac k while cavorting with an Marine Corps officer. Torrey's shore assignmen t leads him to reestablish contact on a ver y hostile level with his est ranged son, Ensign Jere Torrey (Brandon de Wilde), his estranged son fro m a long-ended marriage, who is also serving at Pearl Harbor; he also es tablishes a romantic relationship with Lt. Maggie Haines (Patricia Neal) , a navy nurse; he a lso befriends Commander Egan Powell (Burgess Meredi th), a special-intelligence officer. Through his son's boasting during t heir bitt er first meeting, Torrey learns of a top-secret offensive call ed Sky Hook - he figures out enough of it to impress Powell, and when Sk y Hook gets bogged down by the indecisiveness of its commander, Vice Adm iral Broderick (Dana Andrews), Powell convinces the comman der of the Pa cific Fleet (Adm. Chester Nimitz, unnamed here but played by Henry Fonda ) that Torrey is the man to salvage the operati on. Promoted to rear adm iral, with Eddington - who'd been rotting away on a shore assignment, dr unk most of the time - assigned as h is chief of staff, Torrey gets Sky Hook rolling and finally finds his purpose in this war, gaining the bela ted admiration of his son in the process. Eddington is similarly motiva ted but is still haunted by the violent, ultimately self-destructive dem ons that bligh ted his marriage and his life - he is particularly attrac ted to a young nurse, Annalee Dohrn (Jill Haworth), not knowing that she is already involved romantically with Jere Torrey. Meanwhile, McConnel l survives the sinking of his ship and is ordered to join Torrey 's staf f. Matters all come to a head when the Japanese begin a counter-offensiv e to Torrey's planned troop landing. And just at the time Torrey needs h is men at their best, Eddington's violence and rage boil to the surface in a way that will destroy him and blight both men's lives. In a final attempt at redemption, Eddington provides Torrey with the information he needs to set up a battle that he has at least a chance of winning, pit ting his small task group of destroyers and cruisers against the Japanes e task force led by the Yamato, the largest battleship ever built.


Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Dana Andrews, Brandon de Wilde, Henry Fonda
  • Directors: Otto Preminger
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2001
  • Run Time: 159 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,543 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,502 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

211 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 6, 2006
Format: DVD
As a Navy veteran, I have little tolerance for movies that don't take the time to be accurate in their depictions of military life in both peacetime and war. Premminger took the time to get things right, which makes this movie an enjoyable tale.

Some reviewers declaim Wayne's portrayal of Admiral Torrey as stiff and without personality. I disagree. Captains and Admirals are by necessity stiff and formal, as is required by the tremendous responsibilities of their positions. Shipboard friendships are rare because those friendships can interfere with the exercise of command, in particular, discipline. Torrey demands, and gets the best from his subordinates. But he has a soft spot for his friend, Eddington. A tragic character with an alcohol problem, he would have been better served if Torrey had handled his second in command far more sternly. Eddington respects Torrey in a way that he obviously respects no one else, especially himself. He would have heeded that approach. In many ways, Eddington represents the hopelessness of many career military officers in the peacetime of the 30's. There were thousands of otherwise deserving officers who literally stayed the same rank for as long as 10 years.

The movie demonstrates the difference between capable managers in peacetime and battle-worthy leaders in war. The U.S. was caught in that trap in the first year of World War II. Unfortunately, a lot of ships were lost and a lot of sailors died while the bureaucrats were weeded out and replaced with warriors.

When in command of a ship or a task force in battle, the commander has to function with his intellect, not with emotions.
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185 of 197 people found the following review helpful By Engineering Professional on June 6, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It always seems that WWI movies covered the European Theater more, as far as Blockbusters are concerned... "Longest Day", "Bridge to Far", "Patton", "Guns of Navarone", "Saving Private Ryan". Sure the Pacific had the multitude of John Wayne Movies, but true epics either dealt with Pearl Harbor or Midway, nothing else existed it seems.
Then I see "In Harms Way" . This movie is a true classic, with a superb cast including Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Dana Andrews, Patricia Neal (may be one of her best), Henry Fonda, Burgess Merredith and many more.
This a "true grit" battle of the Pacific tale which we need more of. Its description of sea battles both before and after are classic, and the movies lenght is not noticed since you are continually involved in it.
Yes, the movie is in black and white, but it seems its supposed to be. The filming and actions sequences for its day are outstanding, and watch you bass speakers or you will lose some china! Seeing this movie on REGULAR TV is not a good idea. They cut more than 20 minutes from it, ruin its continuity, and it is NOT the same movie. networks would rather sell than eep the movie intact.
WATCH THE FULL LENGTH VERSION! Is like seeing a new movie! A give this movie a standing thumbs up. This is one of the Dukes BEST.
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94 of 99 people found the following review helpful By James D. Eret on January 20, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
So many movies have been made about the land war in WWII. What about the US Navy? The only ones of any merit were made during the war or in its aftermath and most were unbalanced, showing the Japanese as the "yellow peril," etc. I was raised on these movies and some of our best directors cranked them out (John Ford and many others) and few stand up well the test of time. Quite by accident I caught up to this fine film on TV and then on this fine double video. The performances by the actors are excellent. John Wayne shows facets of his character that I never saw before, a vulnerabilty rarely seen other than the classic western "The Searchers," probably his best career performance. Kirk Douglas delivers a great performance of a naval officer with an underlining violence of character, which proves fatal to him. A fine supporting cast headed up by Patricia O'Neil, Burgess Meredith, Tom Tryon and others fills out the story, spread on a broad canvas by Otto Preminger. I was flat out surprised by this excellent work, full of details, character developement, and action. This really is'nt an action picture, with high heroics and flag waving. By subduing these elements, a temptation for any director to boost box office, Preminger achieves effects not seen in most big-budget productions. The story is somewhat slow but rarely boring. The B&W photography posed no problem for me,for most of the war movies I saw as a child were filmed in B&W and it somewhat adds to the documentary look of the movie. Almost all war movies use "stock" footage of ships and battles and this movie is no different.Read more ›
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful By John G. Gleeson Sr. on August 28, 2002
Format: DVD
Why do I like this movie so much? It's an good story with a good cast, an OK love story and ... special effects. I like "The Duke", Partricia Neal and Kirk Douglas, but so? The answer is that I think that "In Harm's Way" captures the spirit of the American Navy in World War II in a near perfect way; it shows flawed men and women trying to do their best under appalling conditions. It also shows the backstabbing and deceit that occasionally marked the rivalry between some commanders. Some parts drag a bit, but the overall effect, for me, is a movie that I have (and will) watch over and over. Despite its age, it spins a good yarn; the characters are believeable and interesting. Wayne has delivered many fine performances (think "The Quiet Man", "The Searchers" and John Ford's cavalry trilogy) and his portrayal of Admiral Rockwell Torrey is one of them. In his committment to the Navy, his growing love for Nurse Maggir Haynes, and his conflict with his son, Wayne is at his top form. Neal, in her post stroke first appearance is equally good. OK, the use of poor models to represent naval ships is off-putting, but it's the characters and the story that captures the viewer. The DVD is all that could be asked for short of a re-make of the film. It remains one of my favorites.
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