Away All Boats

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Away All Boats
Original film poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by Joseph Pevney
Produced by Howard Christie
Written by Ted Sherdeman
Based on novel by Kenneth M. Dodson
Starring Jeff Chandler
George Nader
Lex Barker
Julie Adams
Music by Frank Skinner
Heinz Roemheld
Cinematography William H. Daniels
in Technicolor and VistaVision
Edited by Ted J. Kent
Universal Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • August 16, 1956 (1956-08-16) (United States)
Running time
114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2 million[1]
Box office $3.5 million (US)[2]

Away All Boats is a 1956 American war film produced by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Joseph Pevney and produced by Howard Christie from a screenplay by Ted Sherdeman based on the 1953 novel by Kenneth M. Dodson (1907–1999) who served on the USS Pierce (APA 50) in World War II and used his experiences there as a guide for his novel. He was encouraged in his writing by Carl Sandburg, who had read some of Dodson’s letters, written in the Pacific. The book (and film) is about the crew of the Belinda (APA-22), an amphibious attack transport.[3] The book became a best seller.[4][5]




Film rights were bought by Universal, whose president Edward Muhl said the movie version would be Universal's most expensive of the year.[6]

The first choice for the lead role was Clark Gable.[7][8]

George Nader had twice taken roles that Chandler refused. This was the first time the two actors had worked together.[9]

The armed services had not been pleased with their portrayal in From Here to Eternity or The Caine Mutiny. However the navy were worried about declining recruitment numbers and Universal received their full cooperation for the film, including an opportunity to photograph maneuvers and mock attacks in March 1955 in the Caribbean and on Vieques.[8][10] The movie was filmed aboard the USS Randall (APA 224).[1][11] It is most notable for its realistic and terrifying depictions of Japanese kamikaze attacks on U.S. Navy ships during the last year of World War II in the Pacific Theatre.

The Navy also granted a two-week leave of absence for Ralph Scalzo, a landing boat coxswain, who took part in filming in the Caribbean and was needed for added closeup shots in Hollywood.[12]

Away All Boats is one of the few films made in VistaVision at a studio other than Paramount.[13] The film made use of the Perspecta stereo process for its soundtrack.

Clint Eastwood's role is a brief speaking one (with one line of dialog spoken by another actor), as a Navy Medical Corpsman assisting the ship's captain after he is severely wounded while trying to save his ship.

The script, script revisions, and status reports dealing with the Department of Defense Film and Television liaison office is kept in the Georgetown University Library Department of Defense Film Collection.


A review in the New York Times by Bosley Crowther found the early scenes in the movie confusing, particularly the motivation of the characters played by Jeff Chandler (Captain Jebediah Hawks) and Lex Barker (Commander Quigley). He also found the movie an efficient service film in which “all the confusions are adjusted and everybody comes out a hero in the end”.

Media releases

NBC made a color documentary about the making of the movie.[14]

A record with some of Frank Skinner’s music from the movie was released by Decca Records in May 1956. Participants included Al Hibbler (who sang a theme from the film score) and an orchestra conducted by Jack Pleis. Decca released this on 78 rpm 29950 and 45 rpm 9-29950.

MCA Home Video released a VHS version in HiFi sound in 1986. Good Times Video released a VHS version in LP on March 2, 1998.

Good Times Video released a DVD on May 1, 2001. This was in full-screen rather than the VistaVision widescreen and may have been a copy of the earlier Good Times VHS release.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b HOLMES ALEXANDER: Navy Tries to Increase Allure of Enlistment Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Apr 1955: A4.
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
  3. ^ Sandburg Rates 'Away Boats' With Greatest of Sea Stories: Crew, Ship and GIs Aboard Form Composite Hero of War II Saga Sandburg, Carl. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Feb 1954: D6
  4. ^ BEST SELLER LIST New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Mar 1954: BR8.
  5. ^ ALWAYS FASCINATED BY SEA: Letters Home Started Dodson on His Novel, 'Away All Boats' Elwood, Irene. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Aug 1954: D6.
  6. ^ Drama: 'Away All Boats' Bought; Lindbergh Deal Closed; 'Stairway to Moon' Set Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 Mar 1954: A13.
  7. ^ Abbott and Costello Will Costar on Raft Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 Nov 1954: 12.
  8. ^ a b ACTOR TO RELIVE INCIDENT OF WAR: Philip Carey Again Will Be Aboard Carrier 'Bombed' for 'Battle Stations' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Feb 1955: 17.
  9. ^ Louella Parsons: George, Jeff Land in Same Boat The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 24 Mar 1955: 66.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Mooney, James L., editor, "The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Volume IV', Naval History Division, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C., 1976, Library of Congress card number 60-60198, page 304.
  12. ^ PEGGY LEE SIGNS 3-FILM CONTRACT: Gets Pact From Jack Webb Because of Her Work in 'Pete Kelly's Blues' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 June 1955: 26.
  13. ^ Universal Pictures Co. Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 28 Mar 1955: 22.
  14. ^ N. B. C.-TV TO FILM 2 SHOWS IN COLOR: Network Will Make 10 More Kinescopes if 'Matinee' Productions Succeed Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 06 Sep 1955: 53.
  • Dodson, Kenneth. Away All Boats, Little, Brown and Company, December 1953.
  • Crowther, Bosley. “Screen: Away All Boats”, New York Times, August 17, 1956, p. 14.
  • Shenk, Robert; “Away All Boats” in Jill B. Gidmark. Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes. p. 26, Greenwood, 2001. (A description of the novel on which the movie was based).

External links

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