The Fighting Seabees

Produced and released in 1944 by Republic Pictures Corp., 35mm black and white, mono sound, 100 minutes. The film tells the story of the creation of the Seabees at the start of World War II. The Navy first relied on civilian contractors to build advance bases on Pacific islands starting in 1940, but after the fall of Wake Island it became important to train construction workers to also be soldiers. See the World War II Timeline Seabees page for the origin of the real Navy Seabees in 1942.

poster from John Hall
"As part of efforts to publicize the newly formed Seabees, Hollywood produced an action-packed motion picture. Filmed at Pt. Hueneme, Point Mugu, and Camp Pendleton, California, rather than in the South Pacific, The Fighting Seabees starred John Wayne and Susan Hayward. The film's release in 1944 made Seabees a household word. This picture also began a relationship between John Wayne and the Seabees that lasted for more than three decades ending with what was 'The Duke's' last production, Home for the Seabees, a documentary film in 1977 at the Naval Construction Battalion Center, Port Hueneme, California. The original story outline for The Fighting Seabees differed from the film in many ways. Changes from this draft included the elimination of a role by Thomas Mitchell as John Wayne's father. Mitchell had co-starred with the Duke years earlier in Stagecoach." (quote from The Civil Engineer Corps and Seabee Museum, Naval Construction Battalion Center, Port Hueneme, California)


poster from IMDb
Directed by Edward Ludwig
Written by Borden Chase
Produced by Albert J. Cohen
Original music by Walter Scharf and Roy Webb
Cinematography by William Bradford
Film Editing by Richard L. Van Enger
Art Direction Duncan Cramer
Costume Design by Adele


John Wayne as Wedge Donovan
Susan Hayward as Constance Chesley
Dennis O'Keefe as Lt. Commander Robert Yarrow
William Frawley as Eddie Powers
Ben Welden as Yump Lumkin
Grant Withers as Whanger Spreckles
Tom London as Johnson
Wally Wales as Seabee
Paul Fix as Ding Jacobs
William Forrest as Lt. Kerrick
J.M. Kerrigan as Sawyer Collins
Leonid Kinskey as Johnny Novasky
Jay Norris as Joe Brick
Duncan Renaldo as Juan
Addison Richards as Capt. Joyce Charles Trowbridge


revised 11/11/02 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes |