Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In Harm's Way
In Harm's Way is a 1964 film, produced and directed by Otto Preminger and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The screenplay was written by Wendell Mayes based on the novel by James Bassett . It dramatically recounts the lives of some naval officers and their wives based out of Hawaii as World War II begins. John Wayne stars as a Captain who is removed from command for "throwing away the book" when pursuing the enemy after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, but is later promoted to Admiral and given a crucial mission requiring the same sort of guts and gallantry. The role is one of Wayne's best non-Western parts. Though it makes use of the same heroic persona that Wayne displayed in his Westerns, this persona is very much restrained under Otto Preminger's direction. We learn more of the character's human qualities: his estrangement from his son, a junior officer in the navy (played by Brandon De Wilde), and his affair with a nurse (played by Patricia Neal) which brings out his yearning for a stable emotional anchor in his life. The Wayne-Neal relationship forms the emotional crux of the movie, and the two stars give sensitive performances. There are sub-plots involving characters played by Kirk Douglas and Tom Tryon , who offer differing portraits of two naval officers associated with Wayne's command — the former a wayward sort because of an unhappy marriage and the latter a conventional type with a characteristic Navy wife (played by Paula Prentiss) who is ever solicitous and faithful. The film presents an unglorified and realistic picture of the American Navy and its officers, and its sprawling narrative is typical of Preminger's cycle of works in which he examined institutions and the people who run them (such as the American Congress and the Presidency in Advise and Consent, the Catholic Church in The Cardinal, and the British Intelligence Service in The Human Factor ). The film was splendidly shot in black- and-white by Loyal Griggs , who composed his scenes in the scope format often using deep focus (Griggs was nominated for an Academy Award for his work). Jerry Goldsmith's score is also notable, as is the work of Saul Bass in the credit titles sequence (this sequence actually comes at the very end of the film, an interesting departure from the norm in a major Hollywood production at the time). The climactic battle with the Japanese fleet was staged mostly with model ships.
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