Monday, January 12, 2015

In Harm's Way

Copyright 1965 Signa Productions
I watched In Harm's Way (IMDB) last night. It is about the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. Famous at the time for the rape scene between Kirk Douglas and Jill Hayworth it was also the last black and while movie made staring John Wayne. It is also long by the standard of today's movies - some 2 hours and 40 minutes.

What struck me was the prewar social scene in the Navy. The movie opens with a dance at the Officers' Club attended by a large group of people. They are all smoking and drinking and dancing to big band music. By the time I became an officer these gatherings were long gone (if they ever existed outside the movies.) The Officers' Clubs had become quite seedy and sparely attended. Events, if any were rare. The "dirty shirt bar" (the Officers' Club where one could arrive in working uniform direct from your ship or the docks) were the on base hangout for the junior officers. Most, however, preferred to go off base to drink.

The situation is today's military is quite different. Pretty much all of the Officers' Clubs, the Chiefs' Clubs, the Acey Deucey Clubs (for first and second class petty officers) have been shut down. We now have "all rank/rate" clubs (Seaman Recruit through Admiral) that are ghost towns. One can no longer smoke and drinking is not only frowned upon but is a good way to end one's career. With somewhere between 80% an 90% of members of the military married the last place you want to be at the end of the day is the gate where the traffic jams from everyone leaving base and going home are horrendous.

Central to the story line are three relationships: between (Admiral) John Wayne and (Lieutenant) Patricia Neal; between (Admiral) John Wayne and his son (Ensign) Brandon De Wilde; and the three way relationship between (Captain) Kirk Douglas, (Ensign) Brandon De Wilde, and (Ensign) Jill Hayworth. In today's military this is called "fraternization" and will get you in big trouble. Most military men now avoid relationships with military women as a simple accusation of harassment (without proof) is career ending even though statistically at least 40% of such accusations are false. Now officer - officer relationships are not strictly prohibited - only when they are contrary to "good order and discipline" but I am sure that a relationship between an Admiral and a Lieutenant or a Captain and an Ensign would be seriously frowned upon.

How the military world has changed...

Fair winds and following seas :)

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