In Harm's Way (1965)
A big sloppy wartime soap opera, director Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way is also a riveting old-fashioned Navy yarn that benefits hugely from a superb cast. The poetically titled film (based on James Bassett's novel) follows the career and personal ups and downs of aging, second-generation Navy man Rockwell "Rock" Torrey (a craggy but solid John Wayne), from disaster at Pearl Harbor through to a major Pacific sea battle. The supporting cast includes an angry Kirk Douglas as a charming and dangerous officer bent on personal destruction; Patricia Neal as a no-nonsense nurse with her sights set firmly on the Rock; Burgess Meredith as a former Hollywood screenwriter turned intelligence officer; Dana Andrews as a cowardly admiral; Brandon De Wilde (all grown up since Shane) as Rock's spoiled PT-boat-pilot son; and Henry Fonda in a cameo as big Navy brass. The drama and action may be geared toward the melodramatic (sex and suicide run rampant amid the sea battles) and the period details are fuzzy (Neal and Paula Prentiss wear distinctively 1960s flip hairdos), but there's a real thrill watching old warhorses like Wayne and Neal strike sparks off each other while the U.S. Navy gives the Japanese hell. Stick around for the stunning closing credits sequence by the master of credits sequences, Saul Bass.