This is a WWII submarine story. A submarine commander P.J. Richardson, played by Clark Gable, survives the destruction of his submarine during operations against the Japanese in the Bungo Straits. The Japanese destroyer responsible, called the Akikaze, had previously destroyed at least four submarines and Richardson is determined to have his revenge. Richardson thinks he has figured out how to defeat the Akikaze and he convinces the navy to give him command of another submarine, the Nerka. The Nerka’s executive officer, Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe, played by Burt Lancaster, has been disappointed in not being given the command, but he cooperates with Richardson and acts to convince the crew that the unorthodox and frustrating tactics that the commander puts them through are legitimate.
The commander brings the Nerka into the Bungo Straits and using his knowledge of the Japanese tactics he successfully engages a Japanese destroyer and destroys it. But when he goes after the Akikaze the Japanese seem to know in advance of his presence and the Nerka is nearly destroyed, several men are killed and Richardson is badly injured.
But when Richardson orders Bledsoe to prepare for another attempt to destroy the Akikaze, he relieves Richardson of command based on medical disability and says that he will return the Nerka to base. But Bledsoe changes his mind and attacks and destroys the Akikaze. But during the attack Richardson realizes that the Akikaze was working with a Japanese submarine to destroy American submarines. He alerts Bledsoe and the danger is averted and the Japanese sub is destroyed. But Richardson dies of his injuries and the Nerka buries him at sea.
This is a fairly straight forward war movie. But the principal actors Gable and Lancaster make it a very memorable film. Some of the other actors do a good job. Jack Warden is a veteran actor and is probably the standout among the supporting characters. There is one amusing detail in the ship life. The crew has a pin-up picture of a girl which they each pat on the butt before they go into battle. This amusing and lifelike touch adds obvious interest for the natural audience of this movie. Highly recommended.