Anyone with a fondness for the conventions of the submarine picture will be content with the modest pleasures of Up Periscope
, a World War II melodrama starring James Garner in one of his early Maverick
-era roles. Pulled away from a week-long romance, Garner tags along with the sub to a Japanese-held island, where he will SCUBA ashore and copy a secret radio code. On top of the reliable suspense of a man alone behind enemy lines, the film also offers captain Edmond O'Brien, whose previous mission has his crew suspecting him of cowardice. Will he cut and run before Garner returns to the submarine? Director Gordon Douglas made a batch of entertaining pictures over the years (a bunch of Sinatra titles, the giant-bug classic Them!
, In Like Flint
) and he coolly finds some effective ways to photograph men in the close quarters of a sub. The main draw is James Garner in his youthful prime; even if the movie doesn't exploit his comic talent, it shows how effortlessly he connects with an audience. The supporting cast consists of the kind of actors who inevitably seem to people a WWII ship's crew: solid character actors (Alan Hale Jr., who performed similar undersea duties in Destination Tokyo
), oddballs and one-offs (Frank Gifford, Edd "Kooky" Byrnes), and future names (Warren Oates). --Robert Horton