01/29/2015  
The World Made Straight on DVD & Blu-ray Feb 17Horse Camp on DVD Feb 24Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII on DVD Mar 24The New Public on DVD Feb 3Regular Show - Mordecai Pack on DVD on Jan 27Rosewater on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb 10Foreclosure on DVD Feb 10

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

The World Made Straight on DVD & Blu-ray Feb 17...
Horse Camp on DVD Feb 24...
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Volume XXII on DVD Mar 24...
SAG Awards 2015: "Birdman" soars away with top prize - ...
The New Public on DVD Feb 3...
Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore Ending Their Marriage ...
Regular Show - Mordecai Pack on DVD on Jan 27...
Rosewater on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD Feb 10...
Watch Larry Wilmore's Scathing Takedown of Bill Cosby ...
Foreclosure on DVD Feb 10...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Hellcats of the Navy (1957)

"You knew I was fresh out of a bad marriage when we met. I wanted to be sure this time, so I played it safe—until I knew that you were Mr. Right."
- Nurse Lt. Helen Blair (Nancy Davis)

Review By: David Krauss   
Published: July 02, 2003

Stars: Ronald Reagan, Nancy Davis, Arthur Franz
Other Stars: Robert Arthur, William Leslie, William "Bill" Phillips
Director: Nathan Juran

Manufacturer: Columbia Pictures
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:21m:13s
Release Date: May 13, 2003
UPC: 043396100510
Genre: war


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C B-A-B C-

DVD Review

Hellcats of the Navy is a classic curio that most likely comes to DVD because it features a former President (you-know-who) in his only screen appearance with his future First Lady (you-know-who). Otherwise, this lackluster, uninspired World War II battle drama would have remained where it belongs, locked in the Columbia vaults gracefully gathering dust. But before calling me unpatriotic or a sour grapes Democrat, consider this: the film practically drove Ronald Reagan out of the industry. Following Hellcats, he made only two more movies before shucking the remnants of his Hollywood career in favor of life in the political limelight. And we all know what happened after that.

Obviously, he made the right decision. For despite a film career spanning two decades and more than fifty movies, Reagan never achieved the lofty star status necessary for cinematic immortality. Forever stuck in supporting roles or B-movie leads, Reagan tried his best to distinguish himself, but his earnest, dependable yet oh-so-bland acting style sabotaged his attempts. His work in Hellcats of the Navy showcases all these white-bread qualities, while at the same time allowing him to look rather presidential in the role of a submarine commander whose integrity is questioned and tested.

The film begins with none other than Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz soberly setting the stage for "one of the most daring and formidable operations in the history of Naval warfare." The year is 1944 and the U.S. Pacific Fleet is ordered to cut off the supply line between Japan and the Asian mainland. Commander Casey Abbott (Reagan) captains the USS Starfish, one of the subs enlisted to carry out the mission, but when a diver is left behind and perishes due to an emergency descent, Lt. Cmdr. Don Landon (Arthur Franz) believes Casey's fateful decision to submerge was irresponsible and personally motivated. It seems the dead sailor was fooling around with Casey's old flame, Nurse Lt. Helen Blair (Mrs. Reagan), so Casey might have deemed him expendable. The incident forges a rift between Casey and Landon and plants seeds of doubt in the crew's collective mind regarding Casey's leadership abilities. Over the course of two subsequent missions, Casey strives to win back their trust, his lost love Helen, and American dominance in the Pacific.

Part of the film's fun is watching Ronald and Nancy Reagan interact, given all that we know about them later in life. Nancy (she was Davis back then) often takes charge in their scenes together, bolstering Reagan's confidence but always strongly stating her opinions—shades of life in the White House. Yet surprisingly, the two possess little chemistry on screen. Their line readings drip with sincerity, but the fact that the Reagans had already been married for four years when Hellcats commenced production may account for the lack of sparks. Their one tepid kiss looks like the perfunctory peck most husbands give their wives before leaving for work in the morning rather than a passionate farewell embrace before departing on a dangerous top-secret mission.

Ironically, for a film that takes place largely at sea, the direction (by Nathan Juran) is as dry as a military briefing on CNN. Production values are typical of Columbia's bargain-basement mentality in the 1950s, with even the battle sequences looking as if they were shot on a military budget. Performances across the board are workmanlike and appropriately stiff, but while they may adequately represent the naval command, they can't help but alienate the audience. It's tough to get involved in Hellcats of the Navy because the cast seems so detached.

Far more affecting World War II submarine films exist (Run Silent, Run Deep; Das Boot, among many others). So unless you're a staunch Republican, a diehard Reaganite or a curiosity hound, let Hellcats of the Navy remain a family heirloom.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Columbia has lavished enviable care on Hellcats of the Navy, presenting a widescreen anamorphic transfer remastered in "high definition." While the source material is far from pristine, featuring countless specks and blotches, the image itself has been scrubbed clean, resulting in razor sharp clarity, especially during interior scenes. Exteriors don't fare as well, often exhibiting a grainier look, although that might be attributed to the use of some stock military footage here and there. The black & white photography is far from spectacular, yet probably looks much better than it did on its original theatrical release, thanks to the efforts of the Columbia technicians.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: The mono soundtrack reproduces the familiar tones of Reagan and Davis in a clear and pleasant manner. Distortion and age-related imperfections are absent, although the audio does sound a bit tinny at times.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Japanese with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring The Bridge on the River Kwai, From Here to Eternity, The Guns of Navarone
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Three trailers for other Columbia war movies are the only extras included on the disc.

Extras Grade: C-

 

Final Comments

Despite an excellent transfer and the novelty of seeing Ronald and Nancy Reagan acting outside the political arena, Hellcats of the Navy just doesn't cut it as a noteworthy film. The weak story, stale performances and autopilot direction effectively take the wind out of its sails, leaving this submarine drama dead in the water.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

thriller, drama, comedy, movie, sag awards, birdman, michael keaton, eddie redmayne, the theory of everything, julianne moore, still alice, documentary, music, ryan adams, rocker, mandy moore, pop star, austin city limits, animation, television, comedy channel, larry wilmore, the nightly show, bill cosby, selma, ava duvernay, civil rights march, montgomery al, david oyelowo, grease, fox, live performance, julianne hough, vanessa hudgens, danny zuko, batman, dc comics, ben mckenzie, donal logue, american sniper, 105.2million, clint eastwood, bradley cooper, unbroken, angelina jolie, kids, sports, super bowl, katy perry, idina menzel, john legend, half time show, chris kyle, navy seal, the view, barbara walters, rosie perez, abc, good morning america, good afternoon america, movies, oscar nominations, richard linklater, alejandro gonzalez i–‡rritu, j.k. simmons, emmanuel lubezki, patricia arquette, rap, eminem, gage garmo, bone cancer, rochester high school, musical, golden globe awards, boyhood, the grand budapest hotel, george clooney

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store