Lloyd Bacon’s Action in the North Atlantic (1943) is a thrilling WWII sea adventure. The film stars Humphrey Bogart as Lt. Joe Rossi, first mate on a battleship that goes down in flames with some of its crew. Other survivors include the Captain, Steve Jarvis (Raymond Massey) and faithful gunner, Boats O’Hara (Alan Hale). After being rescued and reunited with sweethearts and loved ones on the home front, the call of the ocean and duty beckon the boys back into action. Joe quickly meets and marries local nightclub singer, Pearl (Julie Biship). The captain says goodbye once more to his beloved loyal wife (Ruth Gordon).
The mission: participate in a great convoy and diversionary decoy bound from Halifax to Murmansk against an onslaught of German U-boats. However, after a particularly aggressive assault, Capt. Jarvis and his crew become separated from their convoy and are forced to make the treacherous crossing alone, constantly stalked by danger from enemy gunners and bombardiers.
This is one of those WWII propaganda movies that became so instrumental in gaining American support for the war effort. It’s action laden and quite thrilling throughout – tugging at the arm of patriotism until all one can do is give a proud salute and smile for those gallant boys in blue. Bacon keeps a taut tension over the proceedings, heightening the audience’s anxieties by mixing up the fighting with moments of quiet nail-biting. Truly, this is one rousing war movie.
Warner Home Video’s DVD is a tad below par. Though the B&W image can be quite stunning at times, overall the contrast appears to be a bit lower than it ought, resulting in an image that is quite dark with an inherent loss of fine details during the night scenes. Overall, gray tonality is accurately represented with a hint of age related artifacts. Edge enhancement is also present sporadically and throughout. Overall, this is just a middle of the road presentation with a mono soundtrack. Extras include short subjects and theatrical trailers as well as a new featurette on the ‘northern pursuit.’ Overall then, recommended for content and entertainment value.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)