They said he was the best. Now the human torpedo must prove it..!
Warner Bros. resurrects the dependable submarine movie yet again to serve as a big screen transition for TV star James Garner. TV's Maverick had already played second fiddle to Marlon Brando and Tab Hunter and Up Periscope was his last program picture before the push into screen stardom. Adept at both comedy and drama, Garner was soon acting opposite top-caliber stars Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn as well as cementing his appeal in action films like The Great Escape.
Up Periscope is perhaps the least distinguished of a string of successful submarine pictures: Robert Wise's Run Silent, Run Deep, Dick Powell's The Enemy Below and Joseph Pevney's Torpedo Run all came out the year before. The script by Richard Landau simplifies Robb White's realistic source novel, but good work by director Gordon Douglas and cinematographer Carl Guthrie keeps the action on track.
Navy Frogman and commando Lt. Ken Braden (James Garner) is puzzled when his girlfriend Sally Johnson (Andra Martin) turns down his marriage proposal. Before he can hear her final answer, Ken is shipped out on a hazardous submarine mission. Ken's new commander Paul Stevenson (Edmond O'Brien) has a reputation as a cold regulations man and this new voyage isn't going to make his crew any happier. The submarine will spirit Braden to an enemy-held island, where he will sneak ashore to steal a Japanese codebook. Tensions mount along the way when it looks as if Stevenson's priorities are faulty: His idea of good planning is to make Braden swim 2,000 yards with his equipment, so as to avoid risking his submarine. What chance does the mission have if Braden is too exhausted to function once he reaches the shore?
Warner DVD's Up Periscope looks great in CinemaScope, especially the scenes filmed on a real submarine at sea. Unlike some big-screen sub pictures, Gordon Douglas chooses angles that emphasize the tight spaces below decks. The enhanced transfer has few if any flaws, and the film's pick of stock library marching music sounds fine in the mono mix. The amusing original trailer features James Garner giving a quick personal tour of the submarine.
Like in many movies from the forty's and fifty's, much stock music was used. In this case there is some original music, written by Ray Heindorf, although he was not given credit for it. And the rest of the music is by other very famous composers, such as Daniele Amfitheatrof, Adolph Deutsch, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max Steiner, Franz Waxman and Roy Webb. Maybe a good idea for a contest. Who wrote what and for what movie?
Up Periscope has been released by Warner Home Video and is available from Amazon.com.