Today's war films largely exploit a sense of national fear and paranoia of terrorist attacks, military disasters, and corruption rooted out by crusading good guys and girls in uniform. The post-WWII programmers of the Fifties, however, enshrined acts of heroism, and were often glossy B-pictures, where men bonded and redeemed themselves through acts of noble self-sacrifice for the good of the nation, and the new free world.
Set against the Pacific War with the Japanese, "The Frogmen" regurgitates the tried and true storyline of a disliked leader who eventually wins the approval of his mournful and cynical team, but it's the underwater assaults that are of chief interest here. The rawness of the elite squad's equipment enhances their mortal danger, and pretty much all of the underwater demolition sequences - themselves fascinating time capsules of vintage military assault tactics - are scored with sound effects instead of musical bombast.
Fox' DVD sports a pseudo-stereo and original mono soundtrack mix, and the film transfer is very clean, with good grays and detail for the underwater sequences.
Film fans should also note the solid cast of B-level stars and sophomore studio players, including baby-faced Jeffrey Hunter, Harvey Lembeck (later immortalized as Eric Von Zipper in AIP's "Beach Party" series), and character veterans Jack Warden, Parley Baer, and James Gregory. (Robert Wagner gets main billing, but it seems his scenes were pretty much cut from the final release version, as he's nowhere to be seen.)
© 2005 Mark R. Hasan
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