THE GALLANT HOURS —-very low-key 1960 tribute to Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey, documenting his awesome responsibilities, frustrations and successes in the South Pacific during WW2, focusing on the lethal back & forth contest around Guadalcanal in 1943.
Directed by Robert Montgomery (an old Navy hand), it has no action (as in zip), being all talk, mainly set-bound. Enthusiasts of military history will find much of it interesting if not exciting, but the slow pace and 115 minutes get wearying. Others will navigate for port. James Cagney is the whole show—his acting here is the most restrained of his career; the usual energy replaced with subtlety, all of the customary sincerity intact. Halsey was a much saltier old salt in real-life, and had some damning controversy (sailing a fleet head-on into a typhoon just one example) that this frankly adoring piece ignores. Music score is made up of chorale arrangements of naval hymns and this unusual melodic background is occasionally quite effective.
Many familiar faces look in—Dennis Weaver, Richard Jaeckel, Les Tremayne, Carleton Young, Raymond Bailey, Carl Benton Reid, Walter Sande, Vaughan Taylor, William Schallert, Karl Swenson.