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Tuesday 11 October 2011

Burl reviews We Dive At Dawn! (1943)

Hi friends! Yes, it’s Burl here to review a movie! I guess if I’m well-known for anything, it’s for my love of very specific movie genres! (Ha ha, remember this?: http://www.avclub.com/articles/favorite-microgenres,33330/) Well, another genre I’m partial to is the submarine picture, and today I’ve got a doozy for you! It’s called We Dive At Dawn, and it’s a dilly of a sub story!

A while back I read a book called One Of Our Submarines, by Commander Edward Young, D.S.O., D.S.C., R.N.V.(S.)R.! It’s a terrific book, covering Young’s submarine commands during WWII as well as the lead-up to it! There’s lots of detail for the submarine enthusiast, as well as plenty of what-ho and pip-pip! It’s kind of like the anti-Das Boot in a way – there’s danger and discomfort, but nothing a cuppa or maybe a tot of the good can’t cure!

We Dive At Dawn is very much in the same spirit! It’s a fictional story, but much concerned with the realistic, minute-to-minute details of running a submarine! Plenty of levers pulled and courses plotted and periscopes raised and hatchways opened! It’s pretty clear they had the enthusiastic participation of the Royal Navy in the making of this picture, and considering its Boys’ Own adventure spirit, no wonder! Ha ha, anyone would want to join this submarine of jolly lads!

The movie is pretty neatly divided into three parts! In the beginning, we meet the seamen on land, as they return from an uneventful mission and disperse for what they expect to be nearly a fortnight of leave! The skipper is planning to date quite a few ladies, ha ha; the torpedosman is reluctantly planning to get married; the coxswain, his brother-in-law to be, is planning to make sure he goes through with it; and the hydrophonesman, a grumpy drunkard, wants to reconcile with his div*rce-minded wife!

All of these vignettes are interrupted by a sudden mission which cuts their shore leave short! It seems the German ship Brandenburg is making her way into the North Sea en route to the Baltic, and the boys of the submarine Sea Tiger are being sent to sink her before she gets there! The second part of the movie is the chase and attempted sinking of the Brandenburg, which indeed makes it to the Baltic, but, despite not having enough fuel for the trip, Skipper John Mills decides to maintain the chase! They send off their fish – the torpedoes, that is – and only by clever subterfuge, ha ha, do they manage to escape the retributive depth charges!

They’re practically dead in the water though, low on juice! The last part of the movie is a daring raid on an occupied Danish island to secure more fuel, and there the movie becomes a proper action picture with lots of machine gun fire and explosions and ululating Jerries! Great stuff!

It’s a rousing wartime picture, and anyone who likes a submarine movie will find plenty to enjoy here! The acting is excellent, with great performers like John Mills, Eric Portman and Niall MacGinnis giving their all for Queen and Country, the sets and special effects are marvelous, and the photography is gritty and realistic! I give this stirring adventure three friendly Danish captains!

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