Thunder Bay (1953)

Thunder Bay (1953), directed by Anthony Mann.

Just out of the Navy, two wildcatters want to get back to their dream of off-shore oil drilling. They have bar fights with the colorful Louisiana shrimp fisherman, but also romance with their young women. Can they bring in a gusher before (a) their backers cut them off, or (b) the townspeople blow up the rig?

It's not a deep story, but interesting for the people involved and also for the genre: you don't see many industrial adventures any more. Off-shore oil drillers in the Gulf as heroes? Unlikely these days. (Well, Armageddon...) The moral: this is Progress, and You Can't Stop It.

James Stewart is your can-do American engineer, thoughtful man of action. Dan Duryea, often a snotty villain, is his wisecracking but otherwise decent partner. Gilbert Roland: extra "ethnic" and loving it.

Joanne Dru is always lovely, but her character is unpleasantly brittle and hostile through most of the story.

Filmed on location and with real boats and drilling gear.

Originally shot in 1.37 ratio, but cropped to 1.85 for theatrical distribution. This is the version we have on the DVD, and I would have preferred the original. The cropped image is often not framed quite right and has a "zoomed" look.

The Technicolor registration needs work in some scenes, and I see a sort of "pulsing" of the saturation from time to time.

First stereo film for the studio, and the original plan was for 3D, which didn't happen.