Cast & Crew
While piloting a light plane to report the location of a hurricane to the U.S. Navy Hurricane Watch Center in Miami Beach, Willard Francis Slattery remembers the events that have brought him to this point: When out on a date with his girl friend, Dolores Greeves, Will bumps into Lt. F. J. "Hobby" Hobson, a pilot with whom he flew during the war. Hobby is now flying for the Navy's Weather Squadron and invites Will along on a hurricane early warning mission, during which they fly into the dead calm of a hurricane's eye. When Will and Dolores later invite Hobby and his wife out to dinner, Hobby's wife Aggie turns out to be a former girl friend of Will's, but she makes it clear to him that she is not interested in resuming the relationship. Will invites Hobby and Aggie for a flight in the private seaplane, a Grumman Mallard, he now pilots for candy manufacturer R. J. Milne. Dolores, who suspects that Will knew Aggie earlier, also works for Milne, although Milne's partner, Gregory, wants to fire her. Milne, however, realizes that she knows too much about their other business, drug smuggling, to let her go. Later, while Hobby is away on a mission, Will invites Aggie to dinner, and she accepts believing that Dolores will also be there. Despite Aggie's best intentions, she and Will end up embracing. Dolores is concerned about Will's interest in Aggie but is equally anxious for him to stop flying for Milne and tells him that she intends to quit. When Will tells Dolores that he desires Aggie, she tells him that she hates him for what he is doing to his friend. Later, Milne tells Will that Dolores has disappeared, but he makes no effort to find her. Milne then asks Will to fly him to a small island, where he says he is going to visit a planter friend. While there, Milne has heart trouble and on the return flight, collapses. When Will has to administer amyl-nitrate, he finds a packet of drugs taped to Milne's chest, and before they can get back to Miami, Milne dies. When Dolores sees the newspaper headlines about Milne's death, she phones Will to warn him to get out before Gregory can destroy him. However, Will gets drunk and, when he returns to the Milne estate, finds a letter from the Navy belatedly awarding him the Navy Cross for meritorious conduct during the war. Soon after, Gregory and his associate, Frank, come looking for the package of drugs Milne was transporting, and Will hands it over but tells them he wants more money and that he has a letter detailing all of Milne's and Gregory's activities in a safe deposit box in case anything happens to him. Dolores attends Will's award ceremony but when she goes to congratulate Will, Aggie is already by his side. As Will and Aggie then leave together, Dolores collapses. Later, after Will learns that Dolores has been placed in a psychiatric ward, a doctor tells him that she was very much in love with him and depended upon him for help. Will visits her ward, leaving his medal on her pillow and telling her that he will try to make up for the things he has done and will return for the medal when she gets better. Meanwhile, Hobby has found out about Will and Aggie, but Will assures him that Aggie is still in love with him. The Navy base then phones Hobby with an order for an emergency flight, but as Hobby has been drinking and would be court- martialed if he showed up inebriated, Will knocks him out and goes to take Milne's plane up in Hobby's place. During the flight, Will radios in vital information about the position of an approaching hurricane, enabling evacuations and preparations to take place. However, Milne's plane was not built to fly in hurricane conditions and Will loses an engine. Realizing that he may not make it back, Will radios that there is information about Milne's drug smuggling activities in his bank's safe deposit box. On the ground, meanwhile, Hobby and Aggie reunite. As Will is about to land, his other engine fails but he survives the crash landing. In Will's honor, the base commander then names the hurricane Slattery. Later, Will rejoins the Navy as a flyer. A recovered Dolores comes to see him off on an assignment and offers to return his medal, but he asks her to keep it for him and says that he will be coming back to her.
Joseph De Santis
John W. Adams
Charles G. Clarke
Edwin "buddy" Cole
James P. Johnson
F. E. Johnston
Arthur L. Kirbach
Capt. Howard T. Orville U.s. Navy
Maurice De Packh
Paul Van Loan
Darryl F. Zanuck
Charles A. Zimmerman
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
Born in Mako, Hungary to the son of a civil engineer, De Toth showed an early artistic bent, having his first exhibit of paintings and sculpture at age 14 and seeing his first play produced at age 18. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Budapest, he began acting, writing and working as a cameraman for cinematographer Istvan Eiben. In 1939, he went to England, where he worked as a second unit director for Alexander Korda on The Thief of Bagdad and other films. De Toth immigrated to Hollywood in the early '40s, and worked with Korda on The Jungle Book (1942) and several other films.
He made his Hollywood directing debut with the 1943 feature, Passport to Suez, a propaganda thriller about the Nazis wanting to bomb the Suez Canal.
Impressed with his ability, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, put the director under contract for one film and the result, None Shall Escape (1944), launched his Hollywood career. This tense, sensitive drama about a Nazi officer made to examine his actions was fascinating in its structure: Set after the war's end, the film centers around the trial of a Nazi butcher, Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), in Poland and makes excellent use of flashbacks illustrating the prosecution's testimony to form the bulk of the film. In a way, the film predicted the Nuremberg Trials after the war.
de Toth earned considerable critical acclaim with the taut, intense noir thriller Pitfall (1948) which he co-wrote. Starring Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott and Raymond Burr, this story of a bored insurance salesman who embarks on an affair because he feels stifled in his picture-perfect home (a devoted wife, son, nice house, successful career, etc.) was striking as one of the first films to examine the American dream gone sour. De Toth followed that with a shared Oscar nomination with William Bowers for Best Original Motion Picture Story for The Gunfighter (1950), a haunting character study of a killer (Gregory Peck) trying to live down his past.
His biggest commercial hit came with House of Wax (1953), the movie that launched Vincent Price's horror film career and is still regarded as the best of all three-dimensional films to be released during that period. Unlike other directors who seemed to be dabbling with a new technique, De Toth emphasized character and plot over the special effects: Price was a sculptor rebuilding his wax figure collection (destroyed by fire) by making statues out of his murder victims. The one-eyed de Toth was an odd choice to helm a 3-D film as he could not experience the stereoscopic process, having lost an eye in his youth, but he persevered and it was the most successful 3-D film of its day.
De Toth followed that hit with some fine films: Crime Wave (1954), a hostage thriller that boasts some fine performances by Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson and excellent location shooting on the streets of Los Angeles; The Indian Fighter (1955) an exciting Kirk Douglas vehicle about a wagon master leading his train through rough territory that won accolades for depicting the Native Americans with more depth than contemporary directors; and Day of the Outlaw (1959), the stark, stylish, low budget western about an outlaw (Burl Ives) and his gang taking over taking a small town and matching wits with one of its citizens (Robert Ryan). For many, this film best articulated many of the recurring themes in De Toth's work that would be evaluated only decades later by film scholars: survival, betrayal, the capacity for evil and complexities of human relationships.
In the early sixties film work became increasingly scarce for De Toth and he found himself relegated to directing for television: Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip and The Westerner. Tired of the limitations he was finding in Hollywood, De Toth headed to Europe in the '60s, where he found work as an uncredited consultant and location scout on David Lean's extravagant Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He directed a few films abroad, the best of which was the World War II action film Play Dirty (1968), starring Michael Caine, and then he more or less retired from active filmmaking. It was not until recently that De Toth began to receive critical recognition for his entertaining body of work. The last few years have seen several retrospectives and he enjoyed a renewed popularity at film festivals from Scotland to San Francisco. His contributions to film were recognized with the 1995 life achievement prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the publication of his autobiography, Fragments: Portraits From the Inside, as well as an interview book, De Toth on De Toth, by Anthony Slide. De Toth was married for a time to Veronica Lake (1944-1952) with whom he had two children. He is survived by his wife, Ann Green.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
The film's opening titles include the following acknowledgment: "Grateful thanks is extended to the Armed Forces and the Weather Bureau, whose technical information and active assistance were so generously given during the filming of this picture in the Florida and Caribbean areas." According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, writer Herman Wouk was hired in January 1948 to write a treatment of his film story entitled Slattery's Hurricane. Instead, Wouk turned in a full-length novel. which was eventually published in 1956. The studio exercised its option to purchase rights to the work for a total of $50,000 and hired Wouk, for an additional $25,000, to produce a screenplay, which he then completed in September 1948. In addition to credited writer Richard Murphy, A. I. Bezzerides, John Monks, Jr. and William Perlberg also worked on drafts of the screenplay, but the extent of their contribution to the released film has not been determined.
An important element in the original novel that became a major issue between the studio and the PCA involved "Dolores'" characterization as a drug addict. According to documents in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the studio apparently ignored a November 24, 1948 memo from PCA head Joseph I. Breen, which advised that it would be necessary to remove this characterization as it was in direct violation of the Production Code. Later, in January 1949 by which time the film had been shooting for several weeks, the PCA again complained that the revised final script still characterized Dolores as a drug addict, and noted "that there has now been introduced into this script a highly offensive sexuality and adulterous relationship between Slattery and Aggie." The PCA warned Colonel Jason S. Joy, Director of Public Relations for Twentieth Century-Fox, that if the drug addiction was left in the finished picture, it would not be approved by them. Despite the PCA's warning, Dolores' drug addiction was kept in the story, but in April 1949, her hospitalization sequence had to be reshot, and the script rewritten so that the drug problem was replaced with a vague psychiatric condition. PCA records also indicate that in a version of the film screened in mid-May 1949, "Slattery" was killed in the crash of the plane and died a hero.
According to a July 19, 1948 Los Angeles Times news item, Dana Andrews and Tyrone Power were initially considered for the part of Slattery. Shooting started in Miami in late November 1948 and the company returned to Los Angeles on December 13, 1948. Some contemporary sources list actors Ruth Clifford, Maudie Prickett and Norman Leavitt as cast members but their participation in the finished film has not been confirmed. The Variety review incorrectly assigns Morris Ankrum, not David Wolfe, to the role of "Dr. Ross." Although he is credited onscreen for composing the music score, studio documents at UCLA reveal that Cyril Mockridge did not write a note of the sparse score. According to UCLA documents, the main title theme was composed by Hugo Friedhofer. In her autobiography, Veronica Lake, who was, at the time, married to the film's director, Andre de Toth, wrote, "The Navy, proud of Slattery's Hurricane and the salute it gave to Navy pilots, previewed the film in its 90-ton giant aircraft, the Constitution. Eighty-six people made that flight and circled around Manhattan for three hours, ate lunch and watched Slattery's Hurricane. A temporary projection system had been installed as well as a silver screen in the front of the plane... and some writers covering the flight speculated on what use in-flight films might have in commercial aviation. If they only knew." A radio adaptation of Slattery's Hurricane, starring Richard Conte, Maureen O'Hara and Lake, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on March 6, 1950.