Up Periscope! (1959)

Film Title: Up Periscope!up-periscope

Year: 1959

Studio: Warner Brothers

Silent or Talkie: Talkie

Genre: Drama


  • James Garner
  • Edmond O’Brien
  • Andra Martin
  • Alan Hale, Jr.


Directed by Gordon Douglas, whose career goes all the way back to the 1920’s and includes “The Little Rascals” and one of the many Dick Tracy movies, Up Periscope is chock full of stars and tense moments. The film opens in the confines of a submarine traveling in the South Pacific. The sub is lead by Commander Paul Stevenson (played by Edmund O’Brien, known extensively for his roles in films noir, most notably DOA) and has fallen under a torpedo attack, leaving a member of the crew wounded. Stevenson sends out an SOS, alerting others of his injured mate. Meanwhile, back on land, Kenneth Braden (James Garner) is romancing Sally Johnson (Andra Martin) in the sand. Before long, he is yanked away from his week-long relationship and sent on a crash course of training to join the crew of the submarine. Right from the start, Stevenson’s issues with Braden are evident. He is likely threatened by the young Lieutenant, due to his expertise, when Stevenson himself exhibits signs of cowardice. Nevertheless, he seems hell-bent on seeking revenge against the Japenese for the torpedo attack. Braden’s mission is to accompany the sub on its journey to a japenese-controlled island and then scuba alone to the shore. There is a secret radio code on the island, and Braden must successfully grab it and head back to the submarine, all the while remaining undetected by the enemy. Stevenson’s continued mannerisms imply that he may abandon Braden and take off with the submarine before he returns. With Braden alone in enemy territory, such an act would surely result in his capture. The sub is his only refuge and escape. Though Stevenson is overwhelmed with feelings of retaliation, it frustrates him that he cannot carry it out himself. He knows deep down that a successful mission will put Braden at center stage as the hero. Can he keep his cool long enough to put his personal agenda aside and do what is best for his crew, his new young passenger and his country? Who exactly is Sally Johnson? Is she just a love interest of Braden’s or is she more deeply involved in the entire mission?

Aside from Edmund O’Brien and James Garner, Up Periscope also featured some other familiar faces. Lt. Pat Malone was played by Alan Hale, who is forever immortalized as “The Skipper” he would play a few years later on “Gilligan’s Island”. Frank Gifford also appeared as Cy Mount. Gifford was an extremely talented football player for the New York Giants from 1952-1964. His role here fell right in the middle of his professional sports era. Gifford went on to launch a very successful career as an announcer. Lt. Phil Carney was played by Carleton Carpenter. Carpenter had come a long way from appearing as an uncredited usher in the 1950 Spencer Tracy classic “Father of the Bride”, to playing many bit roles on various television shows before joining the Up Periscope cast. The remainder of his career would be spent once again taking small bit roles. His last appearance was in 1981’s The Prowler. This film was also the debut of Warren Oates. Oates, who played Seaman Kovacs, would go on to be a highly recognizable and intense character actor of the 1960s and 1970s. He usually took to playing off-beat characters, primarily in Westerns, although he did play the title role in the 1973 gangster film “Dillinger”.

On Video

The newly released Warner Brothers DVD gives us a widescreen presentation and a beautiful transfer. The disc includes the theatrical trailer and English and French audio tracks. Garner, O’Brien and a troop of supporting actors who’ve carved their own niche in cinema – mix them into a war film and a teeth-clenching series of events and what do you get? You get Up Periscope!

Click HERE to purchase this DVD!