The film begins with Richard Arlen traveling the rails. He's a hobo with a secret--and a very patriotic hobo at that. It's just after Pearl Harbor and Arlen has a fight with his fellow 'bos about the war and volunteering. Soon, Arlen meets up with Guinn Williams (in one of his better roles) and the two go off to volunteer with the US Navy. Williams was a retired navy man and Arlen seems to have some knowledge of the navy BUT he also has a secret. What it is and why he's posing as someone else is something you'll have to see for yourself---if you care.
The film is only occasionally entertaining, but to me finding out Arlen's secret wasn't worth time I invested in this WWII propaganda film. Aside from Williams' nice part, the rest of the cast just seemed pretty dull and the story was, at best, lackluster--showing the earmarks of a B-movie produced by a third-rate studio. Made during American war-effect of World War 2. This war-time patriotic movie was mediocre, at best. Directed by William Berke, Minesweepers tells the story of Richard Houston (Richard Arlen) a former Naval Officer who went AWOL, because of his past gambling problems. Hoping to redeem himself and serve his country; he re-enlists under an assumed name, Jim 'Tennessee' Smith and is assigned to a minesweeper unit in the Pacific, where he has to perform hazardous duties at sea. However, his trouble past, might play a factor, in his overall performance. Can Jim AKA Richard keep his real identity a secret, or will his problems, become a danger, not only to him, but the people, around him? Watch the movie to find out, if you want! Without spoiling the movie, too much, I have to say, the story given here, is really hard to believe. After all, when a person joins the military. Fingerprints are taken and filed with them. Surely, the U.S Navy would find out who Tennessee Smith really was, sooner than later with all the background security and criminal check, they do. It's really hard to believe, that Richard thought, he would get away with it. Another problem with the story material is how cheesy, and golly gee sensitive, it was. You would think, this movie about gambling addiction, would have a lot of depth. Sadly, it has little to none. I know, a lot of critics would love to defend this movie on the belief that the war-time films of the 1940s were so uber conservative, that filmmakers couldn't get away with a lot due to the Hayes Code; but that's far from the truth; films like 1945's The Lost Weekend shows that films about addiction can work, if the filmmakers honestly put some sophistical into their subject matter. Since, the movie rarely focus on it, I really found the whole gambling problem of Richard Houston, a bit, add on, late here. Even, the minesweeper plot, seem secondary at times. The movie seem more focus and wrapped around the subplot of Richard fighting over the love of a girl, Mary Smith (Jean Parker) than anything else. I really didn't like it, because Jean Parker and Richard Arlen barely show any chemistry with each other. It seem to be, a little forced. Another problem with the actors, this movie has chosen, is that none of them, seem like the right age to be, consider for war-time enlistment, so soon after the Pearl Harbor attack. It wasn't until late 1942, where the age bracket was increased to include males aged 18 to 45, due to demand. It's really hard to believe, that they were able to serve, due to the fact that the actors look past their prime. A good example of this, was when they were doing, P.T. & rifle drills. I have to say, the stupid acting and dialogue, they were given in this movie, didn't help them, seem believable. Honestly, what middle age serviceman reads a grade school joke book, during intense military training!? If you thought, that was dumb. Just wait, until the scene, where the 'so-call trained' Minesweepers, try to disarm a weapon, by whacking at it. I found all of them, to be very clueless in their jobs. The acting in this movie didn't help. None of them, really stood out. Richard Arlen was probably one of the worst. He reads lines, without much delivery. His character was also very forgettable. I really couldn't remember, anything, he say or done, in the film. The only actor that kinda shine in this film was Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams as Ichabod Ferdinand 'Fixit' Smith. Still, the only reason why I remember his presence in the film, is because he remind me of Larry the Cable Guy mixed with President George W. Bush, both in look and in his Southern accent. There was just something really odd about him. Unfortunate, the actors weren't the worst thing, about this film. I have to say, the action scenes were. Most of the underwater disarming shots were a little too dark for audience to see, what's going on. It made the film, somewhat unwatchable. They were so badly done, that the only thing, I can describe it; was, as if I was listening to a radio manual at midnight with no lights on. Also, the failure of Paramount Pictures to renew the film's copyright resulted in this film falling into public domain. It means that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of this film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film are not very good, so viewing it, involves accepting some distractions such as poor video/audio quality, due to the fact, that it has been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. Overall: It's still pretty hard to sweep all the problems of this movie, just for that reason, alone. The movie was still, somewhat dull and boring, when it first came out. For a movie about disarming bombs. It wasn't the best. I was still somewhat disappointed. However, it's still watchable if you really want to, but it's better off, to find, your entertainment, somewhat else.
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