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The Frogmen Reviews

Action explodes in this swiftly moving WW II drama in which Widmark plays a tough and unloved commander of Navy frogmen. Widmark takes over a UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) after its kindly, former commander has been killed. He is tough and uncompromising, giving curt orders and showing no compassion, a coldness that earns him the dislike of his men, particularly Andrews, the ranking noncom. Almost all of the men request transfers, but then Widmark, assisted by Andrews, defuses an unexploded bomb lodged beneath the hospital ward of a ship, saving all on board. Further instilling confidence and respect from his men, Widmark leads his team onto a beach defended by the Japanese and, while the shore emplacements strafe the water's edge, manages to blow up the water obstacles so the Marines can land. But Widmark is still a man with the bark on, as he proves when lambasting Hunter for planting a sign welcoming the Marines to a beach cleared for them by the UDT. In a terrific finale, the UDT heroes wear oxygen tanks and swim underwater into a Japanese submarine pen, cut the undersea nets, and plant explosives that later destroy the enemy vessels, then fight their way to freedom past Japanese frogmen who have spotted the gurgling bubbles from the UDT's underwater equipment. Widmark gives one of his best performances, and Andrews is solid as his friendly adversary. Merrill, as a captain of one of the boats landing the frogmen, is also effective, as are Hunter, Wagner, and group clown Lembeck. The film earned Oscar nominations for story and cinematography.