FF70 - Crash Drive

Intro by Adam Pranica

A couple of jobs ago, before I started getting paid for sharing my opinions, I worked for an employer that did not care to know them. And in one meeting for my yearly review I was asked fairly directly why I wasn't doing more to become promoted. My reasons were simple: I liked the job I was doing and I was good at it. This wasn't going to be my career. It was just a job. The higher-ups were incredulous and I was promoted anyway with all the responsibilities and stresses there are on to pertaining, and so in the beginning of Crash Dive when I saw PT Boat Commander Ward Stewart living his best life out there on his fast attack boat, only to be promoted into submarine duty, my shoulder sunk like his, punished for doing a good job.

The film makes a big deal about Stewart's preferences in naval vessels and he will tell anyone who asks just how superior a PT boat is to anything else in the water. Is this the conflict with the film? An assignment he doesn't like? No way! We pivot so hard into Ward Stewart becoming smitten with Jean Hewlett and once he does, she becomes his entire focus to the exclusion of all other concerns, and he really should have some other concerns, like: ”Why aren't there locks on the bedrooms in sleeper cars?”, or: ”At what point is showing up in a person's hotel room creepy?”, or: ”How long is too long to drive to a mystery location on a date?”

That is all setting aside the biggest question of all: Who else Jean might be dating, and if that person is the very worst person it could possibly be: Lieutenant Commander Dewey Connors, the commander of the Corsair, the very submarine Stewart's been assigned to. And it is crazy that for a film that spends a good 70% of its time on this love triangle story, on trains and hotels and in officers clubs, Stewart's relationship to Jean is only revealed to Connors a half an hour from the end of the film. Instead of bringing their conflict to any resolution, the two men have got to go out on a mission together and because the Corsair isn't a place for feelings, Connors and Stewart mostly keep things professional, even though Connors is pretty sure that Stewart cleared his lady friend’s channel behind his back.

By the end of the film we are a long long way from that meet cute in the beginning. The crew of the Corsair has sieged the secret base and the sub is surrounded by flames. And I didn't even mention that Captain Connors becomes a human periscope. This is so much more than a love triangle between Tyrone Power and Dana Andrews and Anne Baxter, it has got freighters that are really transformers, it has got a trip to grandma's house, and a guy with a heart condition. You can't get milk like this from a sea cow on today's Friendly Fire, as we discuss the 1943 Archie Mayo directed submarine love story Crash Dive.

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