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In Harm's Way"In Harm's Way" on DVD

Pearl Harbor I

Director Otto Preminger's epic look at Pearl Harbor and its aftermath is an all star cast flick that offers a much different perspective on the US early involvement in WWII than does the summer 2001 Michael Bay effort.

In fact, while the new "Pearl Harbor" uses the raid as its climax, In Harm's Way sees the Japanese attack happen in the first half hour of the 167 min epic.

The rest of the film deals with its aftermath, from the search for scapegoats to the US military's attempts to put the incident behind it and get on with the business of winning the war.

John Wayne stars Rock Torrey, a naval commander whose ship is torpedoed during the Pearl Harbor attack. His sidekick, played by Kirk Douglas, is a haunted man who marches to his own drummer and when Wayne's Torrey is busted to a desk job, Douglas is sent off to the purgatory of the South Pacific in a make work project that's a waste of his considerable skills.

The brass (personified by Henry Fonda) eventually recognizes they've treated Torrey wrongly and promote him to Admiral and assign him to oversee a major South Pacific operation. Reunited with Douglas' character (who, unfortunately, still has his demons possessing him), they get to work trying to rid the area of Japanese forces to make the area safe for the Americans.

There's a lot more to In Harm's Way than this, of course. We get to see an estranged father/son relationship healed, a budding romance between John Wayne and navy nurse Patricia Neal, a romance gone wrong at Douglas' hands, and plenty of naval action.

The battle scenes are very good (there appears to be a bit of authentic footage interwoven in places) and there's plenty of opportunity for heroism and angst from a variety of quarters.

In all, In Harm's Way is a truly epic look at a fairly well known part of US history and in director Preminger's sure hands it's a compelling tale that despite its length never lags.

The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen video (16x9 TV compatible), and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. The black and white picture quality is very good, except for when the authentic footage is stuck in, and the audio is also up to snuff considering the source material.

Extras include a documentary on the making of the film as well as three theatrical trailers narrated by the director.

In Harm's Way, from Paramount Home Video
167 min, black and white, widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 TV compatible, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Particia Neal, Carroll O'Connor, Burgess Meredith,
Written by Wendell Mayes, Produced and Directed by Otto Preminger.


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Updated May 13, 2006