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Away All Boats

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Away All Boats
Original film poster by Reynold Brown
Directed byJoseph Pevney
Written byTed Sherdeman
Based onnovel by Kenneth M. Dodson
Produced byHoward Christie
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
in Technicolor and VistaVision
Edited byTed J. Kent
Music byFrank Skinner
Heinz Roemheld
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 16, 1956 (1956-08-16) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$2 million[1][2]
Box office$3.5 million (US)[3]

Away All Boats is a 1956 American war film directed by Joseph Pevney and starring Jeff Chandler, George Nader, Lex Barker, and Julie Adams. It was produced by Howard Christie from a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman based on the 1953 novel by Kenneth M. Dodson (1907–1999), who served on the USS Pierce (APA-50) in World War II and used his experiences there as a guide for his novel. He was encouraged in his writing by Carl Sandburg, who had read some of Dodson’s letters, written in the Pacific. The book (and film) is about the crew of the Belinda (APA-22), an amphibious attack transport.[4] The book became a best seller.[5][6] The film was produced by Universal Pictures.

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The story of USS Belinda (APA-22), launched late 1943 with regular-Navy Captain Jebediah S. Hawks (Jeff Chandler) and ex-merchant mariner Lieutenant Dave MacDougall (George Nader) as boat commander. Despite personal friction, the two have plenty with which to deal as the only experienced officers on board during the ship's shakedown cruise. Almost laughable incompetence gradually improves, but the crew remains far from perfect when the ship sees action, landing troops on enemy beachheads. Few anticipate the challenges in store at Okinawa.




Film rights were bought by Universal, whose president Edward Muhl said the movie version would be Universal's most expensive of the year.[7]

The first choice for the lead role was Clark Gable.[8][9]

George Nader had twice taken roles that Chandler refused. This was the first time the two actors had worked together.[10]

The armed services had not been pleased with their portrayal in From Here to Eternity or The Caine Mutiny. However the Navy was worried about declining recruitment numbers and Universal received its full cooperation for the film, including an opportunity to photograph maneuvers and mock attacks in March 1955 in the Caribbean and on Vieques.[9][11] The movie was filmed aboard USS Randall.[1][12] It is most notable for its realistic and terrifying depictions of Japanese kamikaze attacks on U.S. Navy ships during the last year of World War II in the Pacific Theater. The kamikaze attack scene was later reused in the 1976 film Midway.

The Navy also granted a two-week leave of absence for Ralph Scalzo, a landing boat coxswain, who took part in filming in the Caribbean and was needed for added closeup shots in Hollywood.[13]

Away All Boats is one of the few films made in VistaVision at a studio other than Paramount.[14] The film made use of the Perspecta stereo process for its soundtrack.

Clint Eastwood's role is a brief speaking one (with one line of dialog spoken by another actor), as a Navy medical corpsman assisting the ship's captain after he is severely wounded while trying to save his ship.

The script, script revisions, and status reports dealing with the Department of Defense Film and Television liaison office is kept in the Georgetown University Library Department of Defense Film Collection.


A review in The New York Times by Bosley Crowther found the early scenes in the film confusing, particularly the motivation of the characters played by Jeff Chandler (Captain Jebediah Hawks) and Lex Barker (Commander Quigley). He also found it an efficient service film in which “all the confusions are adjusted and everybody comes out a hero in the end”.

Home media

NBC made a color documentary about the making of the film.[15]

A record with some of Frank Skinner’s music from the film was released by Decca Records in May 1956. Participants included Al Hibbler (who sang a theme from the film score) and an orchestra conducted by Jack Pleis. Decca released this on 78 rpm 29950 and 45 rpm 9-29950.

MCA Home Video released a VHS version in HiFi sound in 1986. Good Times Video released a VHS version in LP on March 2, 1998.

Good Times Video released a DVD on May 1, 2001. This was in full-screen rather than the VistaVision widescreen and may have been a copy of the earlier Good Times VHS release.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b Holmes Alexander (27 April 1955). "Navy Tries to Increase Allure of Enlistment". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ "Summer Rainbow". Variety. 6 June 1956. p. 16.
  3. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, 2 January 1957
  4. ^ Carl Sandburg (28 February 1954). "Sandburg Rates 'Away Boats' With Greatest of Sea Stories: Crew, Ship and GIs Aboard Form Composite Hero of War II Saga". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Best Seller List". The New York Times. 21 March 1954.
  6. ^ Irene Elwood (15 August 1954). "Always Fascinated By Sea: Letters Home Started Dodson on His Novel, 'Away All Boats'". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Edwin Schallert (8 March 1954). "Drama: 'Away All Boats' Bought; Lindbergh Deal Closed; 'Stairway to Moon' Set". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Hedda Hopper (24 November 1954). "Abbott and Costello Will Costar on Raft". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ a b Thomas M. Pryor (21 February 1955). "Actor To Relive Incident Of War: Philip Carey Again Will Be Aboard Carrier 'Bombed' for 'Battle Stations'". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Louella Parsons (24 March 1955). "George, Jeff Land in Same Boat". The Washington Post and Times-Herald.
  11. ^ "USS WASHOE COUNTY (LST-1165) Deployments & History".
  12. ^ Mooney, James L., editor, The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume IV, Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1976, Library of Congress card number 60-60198, p. 304.
  13. ^ Thomas M. Pryor (3 June 1955). "Peggy Lee Signs 3-Film Contract: Gets Pact From Jack Webb Because of Her Work in 'Pete Kelly's Blues'". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Universal Pictures Co. The Wall Street Journal, 28 March 1955: 22.
  15. ^ "N. B. C.-TV To Film 2 Shows In Color: Network Will Make 10 More Kinescopes if 'Matinee' Productions Succeed". The New York Times. 6 September 1955.
  • Dodson, Kenneth. Away All Boats, Little, Brown and Company, December 1953.
  • Crowther, Bosley. “Screen: Away All Boats”, The New York Times, August 17, 1956, p. 14.
  • Shenk, Robert; “Away All Boats” in Jill B. Gidmark. Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes. p. 26, Greenwood, 2001. (A description of the novel on which the movie was based).

External links

This page was last edited on 31 July 2023, at 23:23
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