In Harm's Way - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

In Harm's Way Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2008
Solid WWII drama with a most impressive cast even with many future stars in small roles. Some of the special effects are dated and obvious now but for the time frame were effective. John Wayne and Patricia Neal are unexpectedly quite well matched as a couple with her prickliness and his laconic style playing well off each other. The picture flows well considering it's extended length, moving from one set piece to the next without a great deal of wasted exposition.
Super Reviewer
December 16, 2007
John Wayne leads the United States Navy into a monumental struggle against the Japanese. Kirk Douglas is the anti-hero who stirs up a fuss. The ships are models and the battles are conducted in a bathtub.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2014
I don't know what's up with Otto Preminger's obsession with arms, because ten years after he did "The Man with the Golden Arm", he lets them put on this film's poster a big ol' arm pointing out, I don't know, harm or something. Well, of course you're in harm's way, dummy, because you're at war! Well, this film is just about the Navy, so, you know, they just need to be careful about what waters you get in, sailors. I'm kidding; the Navy is pretty hardcore, - as this film which actually shows you that will tell you - especially when John Wayne is present, because, you know, nothing says exciting like John Wayne in a World War II film. Yeah, some people gave "The Green Berets" some heat, but I was actually referring to "The Longest Day", because, come on, I cannot be the only guy who didn't think that film got a little boring at times. Maybe it would have been a little more exciting if it was in color, an issue that we know longer have to worry about ever since this, the last black-and-white WWII film... which is, black-and-white, as I said. Don't worry, folks, because this film is plenty good enough to compensate for its literal lack of color, although its featuring the plague on WWII film intrigue which was evidently John Wayne, and its being about the Navy (Seriously, the war film industry is not giving a whole lot of love to the Navy, and all of the excitement of just floating around, waiting for someone to shoot around you) are not the only things going against entertainment value here.

I must give this film quite a bit of credit for its melodramatics' intrigue and at least not being as derivative as they can be, but the fact of the matter is that so much of the dramatic value of this film's story concept thrives on histrionics, which seem to manufacture conflicts and layers in an attempt to mold an epic in a perhaps overblown manner. Again, the melodrama is generally realized, so maybe the film isn't quite as soapish as they say to me, but it's still overblown, even with its questionable dramatics, which you should get used to, but only come to focus upon more as the film progresses, proving to also be overblown in structure. At the very least, all of the excessiveness leads to unevenness, for this narrative features several segments and plot layers that it approaches in a fashion often so disjointed it's almost startling, to the point of convoluting the significance of each plot layer over another. I don't know if the film is so much confusing, as much as it's simply disconcertingly inconsistent in its handling of an arguably overblown network of narratives, and such an issue, plain and simple, derives from the film's running a little too long, for although the runtime of two hours and three quarters is adequately justified by generally tight storytelling, when the feet start to drag, if focus isn't convoluted, it's simply lost. There a few plot holes which thin out the plot's effectiveness, but as irony would have it, it's the overdrawn periods of exposition which really do something of an injustice to a conceptually solid story, because, at the end of the day, a lack of action begets a limited sense of consequence, and allows you to soak in all of the melodramatics and plot bloatings which try too hard to compensate. Honestly, on the whole, I find this film not simply underrated, but very rewarding, although that's primarily because the idea behind this dramatic war epic has so much potential that the final product could have soared, if its kick wasn't so heavily diluted by a touch too much ambition. Of course, the kick is never so diluted that reward value is lost, at least for me, for although I see the complaints critics are making, I find that the strengths stand firm.

I've made my cracks on this film's being black-and-white, but bland technical limitations of the time really do subdue the cinematographic abilities of Loyal Griggs which still stand out at times, with handsome lighting that takes good advantage of the black-and-white palette, and with a certain scope that immerses you into distinguished, typically lovely locations. The visuals of the film carry a sweep that, no matter how subtle, is instrumental in establishing a sense of scale, not unlike the story concept itself, because even no matter how much the narrative's interpretation betrays even conceptual intrigue, there is a certain uniqueness to this extensive take on the works and struggles of men and women of the Navy, maybe even to melodramatics which often fit in the context of human themes comfortably enough to engage, so much so that I mean it when I say that this film could have stood out as a war melodrama. Wendell Mayes betrays much of this potential through an overblown scripts, but he too plays a part in bringing life to this effective epic, with sharp dialogue and enough dynamic set pieces to present a certain colorful flavor, even in writing, while extensive exposition draws memorable and distinct roles, brought to life by memorable and distinct performances. I don't know if any of the performances truly stand out, but most everyone has a time to shine, with some of the more recurring talents including the charismatic Patricia Neal and John Wayne, in addition to Kirk Douglas, who hits some edgy highlights in his layered portrayal of a charming, but flawed Navy man who holds a certain unpredictable brutality that he hopes will get him what he feels is due in his troubled life. Although the unevenly used Douglas hits about as hard as anyone, most everyone endears in this surprisingly intimate epic, and that helps a lot in allowing the film to endear, despite its slow spells, yet can only do so much in comparison with directorial storytelling. Otto Preminger's direction can make or break the engagement value of this drama, and although he hits his missteps, he delivers through and through, making sure that what action there is proves to be thrilling in its sweeping staging and sharp technicality, and that the steady strolls in storytelling which stand in long stretches between the action never lose entertainment value, anchored by tight scene structuring and colorful plays on Jerry Goldsmith's score which hold your interest, while your investment is really secured by moving dramatic thoughtfulness. The brightest highlights of the film are pretty strong, and I really wish that the film was that on the whole, and yet, I still dismiss those who criticize the final product as underwhelming, as there is more than enough inspiration to craft a thoroughly compelling dramatic epic.

Overall, there is a certain bloating to the melodramatics, and plenty of bloating to the storytelling structure, whose unevenness defuses momentum to the point of leaving the final product to meander quite a ways short of what it could have been: an almost outstanding war drama, the glimpses of which punctuate visual style, often well-rounded writing, solid performances, and realized direction so inspired that they secure Otto Preminger's "In Harm's Way" as a consistently rewarding melodramatic tribute to the Navy.

3/5 - Good
Super Reviewer
March 25, 2007
"Old Rock of Ages, we've got ourselves another war. A gut bustin', mother-lovin' Navy war."
December 10, 2010
This is absolutely one of my all time favorite John Wayne movies. Partly because he does not play his usual image, and explores a deeper character role in this movie than in most of his others. Also I think that although fiction, it still probably gives a much more realistic and less glamorous view of what it might have been like to be one of these characters in real life during WW2. I've watched it at least 6 times and I am sure I will watch it many more times.... I love this movie!!!!!
½ January 3, 2008
Somewhat of a sappy war drama against the Pearl Harbor backdrop. Incredible cast of talent but simply not a great war film. I feel as though it tried to be From Here to Eternity and only came half way.

Kirk Douglas portrays the most interesting character in the story but the Duke gives another, stiff neck performance. I like Otto Preminger alot as a film maker but war epics were not his area of expertise. This was shot with great precision as the case in most of Premingers films but it was about forty minutes too long.
May 28, 2008
very good john wayne he was great so was kirt douglas loved the naval fighting scenes. great special effects for its time a must see for all war buffs and wayne buffs
February 18, 2008
Captain Rockwell Torrey and Commander Paul Eddington are part of the Navy's effort to recuperate from, and retaliate for, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Torrey is romantically involved with nurse Maggie Haynes, and also tries to restore his relationship with his estranged son, Jeremiah, a young Naval officer.
½ July 9, 2007
GREAT PIC.. The un friendship between kirk and johns character helped the movie... AND the actress..I can see her face..BUt cannot remember her name..PATricia was fist name I believe... Johns love in the movie..
½ June 28, 2007
Aside from being almost too schmaltzy to be enjoyable, not a bad movie. One of the 1,147 war movies that uses the same battle footage with different angles to make it look new. The model boats in this movie look like toys.
June 3, 2007
This is the story of how the attack on Pearl Harbor and the aftermath after is seen throught hte eyes of Otto Perminger of "Stalag 17" fame. There allittle in it for every one, though.
½ September 28, 2006
Not one of my personal favorites of John Wayne's WWII movies but I did like Kirk Douglas character in this movie. A ton of stars and soon to be stars directed by the great Otto Preminger.
½ June 12, 2006
Preminger's WWII drama lays some great characters and tense moments but holds dated effects, even in 65.
½ August 31, 2015
Great movie, with an all-star cast.
August 10, 2015
Hi! I'm a stupid guy!
May 1, 2015
Fish or cut bait.

Captain Rockwell Torrey is an aging Navy captain of a battle ship. He takes on a new crew in a battle against the Japanese. He had an unfortunate historical battle result that he wishes to redeem himself with this mission. He happens to have his son on the vessel, a son he hasn't seen in ten years. Their relationship unfolds under these intense conditions.

"He's my son."
"I'd like to meet him."
"No you wouldn't."

Otto Preminger, director of Anatomy of Murder, Laura, The Man with the Golden Arm, Bunny Lake is Missing, Skidoo, and Carmen Jones, delivers In Harm's Way. The storyline for this picture is interesting and fascinating characters that are well developed. The cast delivers very good performances and includes John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Burgess Meredith, Dana Andrews, Patricia Neal, and Paula Prentiss,

"She's making half a million bucks a year and still collecting alimony from me."

I came across this film on Netflix and found it well done. I enjoyed the interactions, dialogue, and ultimate outcome. It is a classic military drama with some unique elements and interaction. I recommend seeing this.

"I don't even remember you."

Grade: B
½ February 13, 2015
Melodramatic adaptation of James Bassett's novel detailing a WWII naval officer and his attempt to prove himself against the Japanese, after he failed at Pearl Harbor. Star cast, splendid photography (by Loyal Griggs), but fatally weakened by its overlength.
½ January 19, 2015
A fairly typical John Wayne WW2 flick. I have to admit that I didn't hate him as much as I usually do, possibly because he gave in a relatively restrained performance that toned down his nauseating self-righteousness to tolerable levels. But the film itself is a bit of a mess. Kirk Douglas sort of pops in here and there with no real idea who he is or why he's there. Then he does something that seems completely out of character, although given the scarcity of his appearance it's hard to say what his character is to begin with. The basic plot is pretty... basic, yet it takes almost three hours to unfold. Wayne's estranged son subplot is also handled better than I thought it'd be. He is the entitled liberal dandy that Wayne so hates, with all his privilege and inside access to the seats of power, but a big part of his posturing is perfectly natural resentment at his father for abandoning him when he was four. He's barely demonized at all. The inevitable reconciliation may seem a bit abbreviated or forced (especially since Wayne being Wayne there's no question of him being the one to back down) but otherwise it's not too bad. It's too bad that the rest of the film is such a mess.
October 3, 2014
hands down John Wayne at his finest. the supporting cast was great. this will always be my favorite movie
August 2, 2014
One of my favorite war movies
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