Hell Divers

Hell Divers

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Hell Divers

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Hell Divers is a 1931 movie starring Wallace Beery and Clark Gable as a pair of competing chief petty officers on board the USS Saratoga . Beery is the old-timer looking to trip up the young Gable, both on and off duty; the story is conventional but the acting is superb.

The movie features considerable footage of operations on board the Saratoga, with dramatic shots of takeoffs and landings of the Curtiss F8C "Helldivers", biplane dive bombers after which the movie was named. (The particular model seen in the movie saw little operational use, but was frequently used by the Navy for publicity.) Scenes include an exercise in which the Helldivers sink an old battleship within a few minutes, a harbinger of what was to happen at Pearl Harbor just ten years later.

It's noteworthy that in 1931 the US Navy (which reportedly had never permitted film crews aboard a carrier) considered its equipment top secret. Most of the footage showing aircraft landing aboard the ship has the lower part of the screen blacked out to hide the tailhook engaging the arresting wires. However, by that time Britain and Japan both had been operating carriers for years.

Other actors appearing include Conrad Nagel, Dorothy Jordan, Marjorie Rambeau, and Marie Prevost. Robert Young made one of his first appearances in a movie, as one of several uncredited pilots.

Hell Divers was filmed before Gable began wearing his famous moustache. Gable had appeared in a minor supporting role in another Wallace...
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