The Navy Comes Through

The Navy Comes Through is a 1942 American World War II film directed by A. Edward Sutherland. It stars Pat O'Brien, George Murphy and Jane Wyatt. Vernon L. Walker and James G. Stewart were nominated for an Oscar for Best Special Effects.[3] The film was based on Borden Chase's 1939 short story Pay to Learn. The working titles of the film were Pay to Learn and Battle Stations. The film was the first RKO Pictures use of a new radio signal trademark that spelled out the word "victory." Prior to this, the studio's radio signal trademark spelled out "RKO."[4]

The Navy Comes Through
Directed byA. Edward Sutherland
Produced byIslin Auster
Written byBorden Chase (story)
Earl Baldwin (adaptation)
John Twist (adaptation)
Roy Chanslor
Æneas MacKenzie
StarringPat O'Brien
George Murphy
Jane Wyatt
Music byRoy Webb
CinematographyNicholas Musuraca
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • October 27, 1942 (1942-10-27) (San Francisco)[1]
  • October 30, 1942 (1942-10-30) (USA)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.7 million (US rentals)[2]


In 1940, the testimony of Chief Gunner's Mate Mike Mallory (Pat O'Brien) at a United States Navy Board of Inquiry regarding a fatal gun turret accident helps end the career of Lieutenant Tom Sands (George Murphy). The situation is complicated by the fact that Sands and Mallory's sister Myra (Jane Wyatt) are in love. Afterward, Sands resigns his commission and breaks up with Myra, telling her there is no future for them.

When the United States enters World War II, however, Sands rejoins the Navy as an enlisted man. By chance, he is assigned to Mallory, to their mutual displeasure. They and the rest of Mallory's men are disappointed to be assigned to man the guns of the freighter Sybil Gray. When Myra comes to see her brother off (though she is assigned to the same convoy as a Navy nurse), she encounters Sands, whom she had not seen since the inquiry.

On board, Coxswain G. Berringer (Max Baer) recognizes Sands, making him a pariah among the navy sailors. On the voyage to England, they are attacked by a German U-boat on the surface. They exchange fire, before the submarine is driven off by escorting warships. Doctor Lieutenant Commander Murray and Myra are brought aboard to perform surgery on Bayless, seriously injured in the fighting. They remain on the ship to avoid delaying the convoy further. A near encounter with a German pocket battleship in the fog causes Sands to admit to Myra that he still loves her.

Later, two German airplanes strafe and bomb the Sybil Gray. When Myra is knocked out by falling debris, Sands abandons his machine gun to carry her to safety. While he is gone, Berringer, the other sailor manning the gun, is fatally wounded. The two aircraft are shot down, but the sailors now believe that Sands is a coward.

When "Babe" Duttson's (Jackie Cooper) radio intercepts a German message, Austrian-born "Dutch" Croner (Carl Esmond) is able to interpret it. He informs Mallory that a German U-boat supply ship is nearby. Mallory persuades the freighter's captain to change course and capture the vessel. Unbeknownst to the Americans, once the German captain realizes he cannot get away, he has one of the torpedoes rigged to explode after a delay, but the suspicious Sands foils that scheme.

Then, he disobeys Mallory's order to guide the German ship to Belfast. He has decided they can load unsuspecting U-boats with booby-trapped torpedoes. As Sands is the only qualified navigator available, Mallory has no choice but to agree. The plan goes without a hitch the first three times, but an officer on the fourth submarine recognizes Dutch as a famous anti-Nazi violinist. The two ships exchange fire. Then another U-boat surfaces and joins the battle. The Americans sink both submarines, but the hold of the supply ship is set on fire. When Mallory goes to deal with it, he is overcome by the fumes. Sands rescues him. After the action, Sands questions Mallory about his actions during the battle that endangered their ship. Mallory admits the situation was similar to that in which he testified against Sands—except that no one survived to prove that Sands was not negligent. Returning to the United States, the Board of Inquiry is reconvened and Sands is reinstated as an officer.



Thomas M. Pryor of The New York Times called the plot "hackneyed" but wrote that it was directed "with a good sense of melodramatic pace" and that the two lead actors played their roles well.[5] Variety wrote: "This is an actionful, exciting naval adventure with strong romantic interest ... The battle sequences are especially effective."[6] Harrison's Reports called it a "pretty good war melodrama ... Although the story is, at times, on the fanciful side, it has been presented in so thrilling a fashion that the interest never lags."[7] Film Daily reported: "Excellent masculine entertainment is offered by this thunderbolt of excitement."[8]

Box office

The film was a surprise hit and earned a profit of $542,000.[9][10]


  1. "The Navy Comes Through". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  2. "101 Pix Gross in Millions" Variety 6 Jan 1943 p 58
  3. "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  4. "The Navy Comes Through (1942) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies.
  5. Pryor, Thomas M. (November 12, 1942). "Movie Review: The Navy Comes Through". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  6. "Film reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. October 14, 1942. p. 8.
  7. "'The Navy Comes Through', with Pat O'Brien and George Murphy". Harrison's Reports: 167. October 17, 1942.
  8. "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily. New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.: 6 October 15, 1942.
  9. Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p176
  10. Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
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