FF113 - Action in the North Atlantic

Intro by Adam Pranica

There has been an upsetting lack of Humphrey Bogart in the Friendly Fire oeuvre and today's film begins to remedy that. Action in the North Atlantic is a just totally right over the plate propaganda film of the highest order, but it is weird that it is not explicitly asking you to buy war bonds or join the Army or the Navy. No, it is writing for the Merchant Marines. Who the hell are they? My granddad was a Merchant Marine and I never really knew what that was until watching this movie. I want to believe that he was more like Bogart's Joe Rossi than Boats O'Hara, but he died a long time ago and I can't ask him who his guy was. R.I.P. Grandpa!

Bogart is our main character, but he is not the captain. That job belongs to Steve Jarvis. It is a different kind of Captain-XO (XO=Executive Officer) relationship than we have gotten before. These guys actually share a mutual respect for each other and Bogart is not looking to stab Jarvis in the back and take his job. How refreshing! Jarvis actually has his ship destroyed in the first act and it doesn't make you think any less of him. And that is because he does that heroic run-through-the-flames thing to save the last of his crewmen before the ship sinks.

And the ship effects here are just spectacular! There is no way this film didn't disfigure a lot of stuntmen. Anyway, with their ship gone, the crew, the ones who weren't chopped up in the propellers of the U-boat that sank their ship (This film is shockingly grisly for its time!) waits around for reassignment and before too long are given a sparkly new cargo ship, which is soon integrated into a convoy of ships so globally representative that it could be in a United Colors of Benetton ad.

Their sailing through the North Atlantic is fraught with peril, but this crew has payback on their minds and needed supplies for our boys in Europe. "It is a film that works for no reason that makes any sense", as we discuss a miracle of American seamanship, a 1943 spotlight on the Merchant Marines: Action in the North Atlantic.

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