Hellcats of the Navy [DVD] [1957]

Nathan Juran's Hellcats Of The Navy has taken its share of knocks over the decades, mostly because of the presence of Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis (aka Nancy Reagan) in the cast as the two romantic leads. It was Reagan's next-to-last feature film, and the 46-year-old actor is a little bit long-of-tooth for the role he's playing, that of a captain of a navy submarine during World War II -- much less one who engages in the kind of repair mission that he carries out at the denouement; and the presence of Nancy Reagan made it ripe for jokes once Reagan became president. The truth is, however, that it's not a bad little movie -- it doesn't have the casting or directorial pedigree of, say, Robert Wise's Run Silent, Run Deep, or as good a script, but it is a solid World War II action movie and the DVD edition makes it look about as good as it's been seen since the 1950's. The masking of the image to an aspect ratio of 1.85-to-1 is essential in appreciating the movie, and Juran's careful use of deep focus shots in certain key scenes. The print has some minor flaws, but is transferred so sharply that you can see every pore of a character's skin in the close-ups, and the underwater sequences look astonishingly good as well. Moreover, the audio is mastered at a healthy volume, so that the dialogue is sharp and the explosions, when they come -- as during a surface duel between an American and a Japanese submarine -- have real impact even on monitor speakers. The 82 minute movie has been given an extremely generous and useful 28 chapters that mark the plot out about as well as any detail literary analysis could. The disc's menu opens automatically on start-up with the "Play" option in the default position.
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Overview

Special Features

  • Digitally mastered audio & anamorphic video
  • Remastered in high definition
  • Widescreen presentation
  • Audio: English
  • Subtitles: English, Japanese
  • Bonus trailers
  • Interactive menus
  • Scene selections
  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Hellcats of the Navy
Future "first couple" Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis made their only joint film appearance in Hellcats of the Navy. Ronnie plays Casey Abbott, commander of a WW2 submarine, while Nancy portrays navy nurse Helen Blair, Abbott's off-and-on girlfriend. During a delicate mission in which his sub is ordered to retrieve a revolutionary new Japanese mine, Abbott is forced to leave frogman Wes Barton (Harry Lauter) behind to save the rest of his crew. But Abbott's second-in-command Don Landon (Eduard Franz) is convincing that Abbott's sacrifice of Barton was due to the fact that the dead man had been amorously pursuing Helen. The rest of the film is spent proving Abbott right and Barton wrong. Based on a book by former USN vice-admiral Charles A. Lockwood (played in the film by Maurice Manson) and retired USAF colonel Hans Christian Adamson, Hellcats of the Navy is a much better film than Reagan's detractors would have one believe. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Ronald Reagan
    Ronald Reagan - Comdr. Casey Adams
  • Arthur Franz
    Arthur Franz - Lt. Cmdr. Don Landon
  • Image coming soon
    Robert Arthur - Freddy Warren
  • William Leslie
    William Leslie - Lt. Paul Prentice
  • Image coming soon
    Harry Lauter - Wes Barton
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