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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Destroyer
Destroyer
Sony Screen Classics by Request // Unrated // March 23, 2011
List Price: $20.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted July 6, 2011 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:
 
A patriotic film from 1943, Destroyer stars Edward G. Robinson and Glenn Ford as two members of a newly commissioned destroyer who go to war against each other while trying to get the ship into the thick of things against the Japanese.  While the movie is sort of surprises or plot twists, the cast is so good that it's a lot of fun to watch.
 


Steve "Boley" Boleslavski (Edward G. Robinson) served on the John Paul Jones during WWI with honor (earning the Navy Cross), and after that conflict was over he became a dock worker.  When the original Jones is sunk at the beginning of WWII, Boley is proud to be assigned to build the John Paul Jones II.  He inspires the other workers into doing their best to make a superior vessel, constantly reminding them that a man's life my ride on how well a rivet is placed.
 
Once the ship is finished, Boley reenlists in the Navy and requests a berth on the ship he just constructed.  Much to his chagrin, he's deemed too old to serve on a fighting ship and ends up training recruits instead.  Just before the John Paul Jones launches for its shakedown cruise, Boley appeals to an old friend who happens to be the Jones' captain and manages to get the position of chief bosun's mate, something that irritates the pervious bosun's mate, Mickey Donohue (Glenn Ford).
 


Once on board, neither Boley nor the new ship has an easy time.  Boley isn't used to the new technology that the Navy has incorporated and gets more than a few things wrong.  He's also hard on the men who soon grow to despise him.  Things are no easier on the ship, which has frequent breakdowns and can't complete its first voyage without returning to base for repairs.  Soon both Boley and the new John Paul Jones are laughing stocks, but everyone thinking that neither will amount to much nor help the country win the war.
 
I really enjoy WWII era war films.  Yes, they're predictable and wave the flag a bit too much, but Hollywood did do a great job inspiring the country at that time, something that they've never really attempted to do before or since.  This film is a good example of how they got people to rally 'round the flag in those dark years.  And it's not as easy as one might think.
 


Robinson is always great as a tough guy, and here he plays his role just slightly over the top, but not so much that it hampers the picture.  Glenn Ford, is a decidedly supporting role is good, but he could have used more screen time.  Bowery Boys fans will enjoy seeing Leo Gorcey as a wise alec member of the crew.
 
The film boasts some nice scenes of ships at sea, so military buffs will have a lot to look at, but there's also a good amount of humor that works quite well.  At a USO dance one lady asks a sailor what he is going to do with his extra combat pay, and he replies "Spend some of it on beer, some of it on women. The rest on something foolish, I guess."  Overall a fun and enjoyable film.
 


 
The DVD:

 
 
Audio:
 
The film comes with the original mono soundtrack, and it sounds fine.  The dialog is easy to hear and the music is forceful for a film from the 40's.  Nothing to complain about here.
 
Video:
 
The full frame black and white image looks very good for a film that hasn't been restored.  The print is in excellent shape, no scratches or dirt that I noticed, and the contrast and detail are both excellent.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the way this film looked.
 
Extras:
 
Just a trailer, which is in worse shape than the feature.
 
 
Final Thoughts:
 
A fun and inspiring WWII era film, the movie is a bit predictable but the actors do a great job and the patriotic aspects are moving even today.  This gets a strong recommendation.
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