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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Sea Chase (1955)

On the eve of WWII, a German captain (John Wayne), who is unsympathetic to the new Third Reich, slips out of Sydney harbor in Australia to avoid internment for he and his crew and a desperate bid to return to the homeland. In a cat and mouse game, he is pursued by British and Australian naval ships. In addition to the crew, there is a beautiful German spy (Lana Turner). If one can get past the absurd casting of Wayne and Turner as German nationals (fortunately, neither attempts an accent), this John Farrow directed high sea adventure is great fun. Some of the dialogue can make you groan at times (Wayne actually says to Turner, "Did anyone ever tell you you're beautiful when you're angry?") but Farrow keeps the narrative in a tight rein focusing on the chase rather than the romance and makes good use of the CinemaScope frame (William Clothier is the cinematographer). The plotline itself is loosely based on fact. In 1939, a German freighter called the Erlangen managed to sneak out of New Zealand to avoid internment and evaded two British craft searching for her as it made its way to South America. With David Farrar, Tab Hunter, Lyle Bettger, James Arness, Claude Akins, Richard Davalos, John Qualen and Paul Fix.

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