Battle Of The Coral Sea (Columbia 1959 with Cliff Robertson and Teru Shimada)

USA / Columbia / 85 minutes / 1959 made in black and white

Writer: Daniel Ullman, Stephen Kandel (from a story by Stephen Kandel) / Producer: Charles H. Schncer / Director: Paul Wendkos

Cast: Cliff Robertson, Gia Scala, Teru Shimada, Patricia Cutts, Gene Blakely, Rian Garrick, L O Jones, Robin Hughes, Gordon Jones, Tom Laughlin, Eiji Yamashiro, James T Goto, K L Smith, Carlyle Mitchell, Larry Thor, Patrick Westwood

During the early days of the Second World War, US submarine Dragonfish, skippered by Lieutenant Commander Jeff Conway (Cliff Robertson), heads into Japanese waters on a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Conway’s task is to track down and photograph the Fifth Carrier Division of the Japanese fleet using a camera installed in the periscope.

But, as the crew returns with the photographs to safe waters, they are captured and transported to a small island owned by Eurasion, Karen Phillips (Gia Scala). There they are imprisoned along with a number of Australian troops and interrogated by dignified commandant, Mori (Teru Shimada).

At first Phillips (who acts as an interpreter) seems to be siding with the Japanese. But when Mori is replaced by cruel Captain Yamazaki (James T Goto), she risks her life to aid the prisoners’ escape. Helped also by brave Australian nurse, Peg Whitcomb (Patricia Cutts), Conway and two of his officers manage to flee the island on a captured enemy boat and break through Japanese lines. The intelligence information they deliver to the American fleet ultimately ensures an Allied victory at the crucial Battle of the Coral Sea .

Rugged Cliff Robertson was no stranger to the waves, having been a Merchant Marine in the ’40s. He would later be handpicked by JFK to portray him as a raw naval lieutenant in the presidential biopic PT-109 (1963) and went on to win an Oscar for his performance as the mentally retarded Charly (1968).