There is something odd going on in a particular area of the Pacific in the second world war - American submarines are being lost at a fantastic rate. Clark Gable's Commander Richardson knows all about it, he lost his sub in that area. He has his suspicions as to how the Japanese are managing to take out so many submarines, and has a plan to counteract it. But he needs a submarine, and manages to get command of Nerka, much to the dismay of it's XO Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster) who had been promised command.
What follows is an entertaining tale as Richardson reveals his obsession with the Japanese destroyer that sank him, and drives the crew to breaking point to train them to take it down. Bledsoe is at first supportive, then tensions between the two erupt as he feels things go too far. It's well scripted, pacily directed with lots of great action sequences and a surprising amount of plot as the crew try to work out just how the Japanese are so successful at sinking their boats. The two leads are like immovable blocks of granite, all glowering moodiness, resolutely determined and titanic in their clashes.
So many submarine films owe so much to this excellent picture, especially Crimson Tide, which lifted the stand off between captain and second in command almost word for word from this classic.
An excellent film, heartily recommended to all fans of thrilling war films with a bit of plot and characterisation in them. Five stars.