Lana Turner and John Wayne in The Sea Chase.
John Wayne, through his movies, fought in every American war. The Sea Chase takes place at the onset of World War II. The unique thing is that Wayne plays a German. Don't worry, Wayne, and the rest of the cast, do not even attempt German accents.
Wayne plays a captain of a German freighter that is in an Australian port when the war breaks out. Wayne is not a Nazi lover but he loves his country. Before the British can confiscate his ship, he sneaks it out of the harbor and attempts to take her back to Germany.
Turner plays a Nazi spy/whore who climbs aboard just before the ship pulls out of the harbor. She spends most of the movie walking around the deck of the old freighter impeccably dressed and coiffed, looking like Marilyn Monroe's older, more serious sister.
The movie is called The Sea Chase, but unfortunately, there is very little chasing going on. The ship pulls out of harbor and heads to a tropical island to get wood to burn as fuel for the trip home. Occasionally we see a British destroyer, supposedly looking for Wayne, but they never actually encounter each other.
The only real action occurs when Turner and Wayne flirt/fight with each other. But even those scenes are not much to brag about. Wayne was not a great leading man and Turner should have played up her role more. Monroe she is not.
Hunter was a closeted homosexual at the time of this movie, but now that he is out of the closet his character here comes across entirely gay. His big plot involves going swimming alone with another young pretty boy, who gets bit by a shark. Hunter then sits patiently concerned by his dying "friend's" bedside.
Without a whole lot of action going on the only thing to enjoy is the cast. Wayne fills the screen like no man could. The supporting cast is very recognizable. Arness would go on to star in television's long running western Gunsmoke. Hale wears his navy clothes and looks just like he does as The Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Hunter's boyfriend, Davalos, played James Dean's brother that same year in East of Eden.
The Sea Chase is a rare film for it's time and subject. The great American hero/movie star, Wayne, playing a German was quite a novel idea. The problem is that the chase is practically without tension. Sure, there is the final showdown when the British finally catch up to him but by then you will have probably lost interest enough to not even care.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (1955)