Tagged: U.S. Navy

Rock Hudson’s Parka in Ice Station Zebra

Rock Hudson as CDR Jim Ferraday in Ice Station Zebra (1968)

Rock Hudson as CDR Jim Ferraday in Ice Station Zebra (1968)

Vitals

Rock Hudson as James “Jim” Ferraday, U.S. Navy Commander and nuclear submarine captain

The North Pole, Spring 1968

Film: Ice Station Zebra
Release Date: October 23, 1968
Director: John Sturges

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Despite its lukewarm critical reception at its release, Ice Station Zebra was not only among star Rock Hudson’s favorites of his own films, but it also includes among its fans director John Carpenter (who admits it’s somewhat of a guilty pleasure) and Howard Hughes. During the reclusive tycoon’s years hidden away in his penthouse at the Desert Inn hotel, Hughes would supposedly demand that the local Las Vegas TV station that he owned play the movie on loop, eventually owning a private print that he reportedly watched around 150 times on a continuous loop. “We all knew when Hughes was in town,” wrote Paul Anka in his autobiography My Way. “You’d get back to your room, turn on the TV at 2 a.m., and the movie Ice Station Zebra would be playing. At 5 a.m., it would start all over again. It was on almost every night. Hughes loved that movie.”

The object of Hughes’ obsession was based on a 1963 novel by Alistair MacLean, the Scottish author also behind classic military adventures like The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare that were also adapted into movies during the ’60s. Inspired by a few real-life Cold War incidents, the novel was adapted into a screenplay by MacLean as well as Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink, and W.R. Burnett, with a few diversions from and additions to MacLean’s source novel, including the renaming of the leading character from Commander Swanson to Commander Ferraday.

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The Bridges at Toko-Ri: William Holden’s Naval Flight Jacket

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker in The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954)

Vitals

William Holden as LT Harry Brubaker, bitter U.S. Navy Reserve aviator

Off the Korean coast, November 1952

Film: The Bridges at Toko-Ri
Release Date: December 1954
Director: Mark Robson
Costume Designer: Edith Head

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Mid-century flight must be my subconscious theme heading into the new year given my last few posts about Frank Sinatra’s jet-setting style and then Sean Connery’s charcoal traveling suit in Goldfinger. Let’s at least move forward from the fuselage to the cockpit where William Holden sits at the controls of his Grumman F9F-2 Panther in The Bridges at Toko-Ri as military aviator LT Harry Brubaker, flying for the U.S. Navy during the Korean War.

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Steve McQueen’s Navy Uniforms in The Sand Pebbles

Steve McQueen as Jake Holman, Machinist's Mate, 1st Class, U.S. Navy, in The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Steve McQueen as Jake Holman, Machinist’s Mate, 1st Class, U.S. Navy, in The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Vitals

Steve McQueen as Jake Holman, maverick U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate, 1st Class (MM1)

Yangtze River, China, Summer 1927 through Spring 1927

Film: The Sand Pebbles
Release Date: December 20, 1966
Director: Robert Wise
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

The Navy League of the United States organized the first Navy Day on October 27, 1922, to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt who—before becoming the 26th President of the United States—had long championed the U.S. Navy and had served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Set four years after the establishment of Navy Day, The Sand Pebbles begins in 1926 China, “a country of factions trying to unite to become a nation… through revolution…” according to the opening text. Continue reading

Christmas in Connecticut: Chief Quartermaster Jones

Dennis Morgan and Barbara Stanwyck in Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Dennis Morgan and Barbara Stanwyck in Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Vitals

Dennis Morgan as Jefferson Jones, U.S. Navy Chief Quartermaster and war hero

Connecticut, Christmas 1944

Film: Christmas in Connecticut
Release Date: August 11, 1945
Director: Peter Godfrey

Background

Something about a naval uniform always reminds me of the holidays. Maybe it’s the happy homecoming of the heroic Commander Harry Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, or maybe it’s the charming naval hero in Christmas in Connecticut who finds himself instantly falling for Barbara Stanwyck (relatable enough) after he arrives on her doorstep to spend a memorable holiday in New England. Continue reading

Top Gun – Maverick’s G-1 Flight Jacket

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (1986)

Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in Top Gun (1986)

Vitals

Tom Cruise as LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, hotshot United States Naval Aviator

NAS Miramar near San Diego, Summer 1985

Film: Top Gun
Release Date: May 16, 1986
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Design: Wingate Jones, John Napolitano, Bobbie Read, and James W. Tyson

Background

On March 3, 1969 the United States Navy established an elite school for the top one percent of its pilots. Its purpose was to teach the lost art of aerial combat and to insure[sic] that the handful of men who graduated were the best fighter pilots in the world.

They succeeded.

Today, the Navy calls it Fighter Weapons School. The flyers call it: TOP GUN.

In 1922, the same year that the U.S. Navy commissioned its first aircraft carrier, Navy Day was established to commemorate the birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, whose vast accomplishments included serving as Assistant Secretary of the Navy before he ascended to the presidency. On Navy Day, it’s hard to think of a movie more associated with the United States’ naval warfare branch than Top Gun, which celebrated the talents and competition among U.S. Naval Aviators.

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Henry Fonda as Mister Roberts

Henry Fonda as the titular Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts in Mister Roberts (1955)

Henry Fonda as the titular Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts in Mister Roberts (1955)

Vitals

Henry Fonda as Lt.(j.g.) Doug Roberts, U.S. Navy cargo ship executive officer

The Pacific Theater, Spring 1945

Film: Mister Roberts
Release Date: July 30, 1955
Director: John Ford, Mervyn Leroy, and Joshua Logan
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry

Background

On Henry Fonda’s birthday, I want to celebrate one of the actor’s most famous roles among a talented cast of some of my favorite actors: Jack Lemmon, James Cagney, and William Powell.

Lieutenant (junior grade) Doug Roberts is a pragmatic executive officer on USS Reluctant, a cargo ship far from the action in “the waning days of World War II,” as we learn during the film’s opening credits. Despite his popularity on “the bucket”, Lt. Roberts is itching to see some combat… and to get away from useless martinets like the ship’s strict captain (Cagney).

Fonda had originated the role on stage. The play Mister Roberts had opened on Broadway in February 1948, a few years after Fonda and his pal James Stewart returned from their own service in the war.

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