Making the Grades
It's a fish. It's a boat. No--it's The Frogmen!
During World War II, the United States Navy put together an elite group of swimmers to aid the battle in the South Pacific. These covert, underwater agents could paddle behind enemy lines, collect data and destroy submerged ammunitions. Due to the amphibious nature of their work, they were nicknamed, "The Frogmen."
UDT4 (Underwater Demolition Team, Number 4), is one such unit. Traveling aboard a boat full of regular officers, the tight knit troop mixes poorly with their fellow shipmates; partly because of their superior attitude and partly because of the grief they feel over the recent death of their beloved team leader.
Lt. Cmdr. John Lawrence (Richard Widmark) finds himself trying to fill big flippers after taking charge of the unruly men. His often-cold professionalism and devotion to the greater good doesn't help to endear him to his subordinates either. When he makes an unpopular command decision to leave behind two stragglers, the ranks begin to rebel.
Feeling like he is waging two wars, Lawrence tries to complete the assigned military missions, while keeping a lid on the simmering mutinous mutterings. Although begrudgingly, the officer and his men work shoulder-to-shoulder to blow up a ring of underwater mines, disarm an enemy torpedo, and attack a submarine harbor. The dangerous efforts give each side has an opportunity to understand the conflict from the other's perspective.
The main storyline of this film revolves around earning respect and creating working relationships, but the action comes from the battle for the sea. Viewers will find themselves holding their breath as the UDT4's plant explosives on "concrete hedgehogs," cut through underwater defenses and sneak onto the beach of an enemy-held island. Of course, these operations aren't undertaken without casualties. Comrades are killed in an explosion, gunshots are shown striking a serviceman, and a knife fight between opposing forces results in bleeding wounds and death. The silent, underwater world, where air bubbles exhaled by scuba divers accounts for the only sound, adds to the suspense of some scenes.
Depictions of violence, although not overly graphic, will be the greatest concern for family audiences. Other content issues include the abundance of cigarette smoking, instances of name-calling, a racial slur, gambling and a couple of references to finding a Hula girl with whom to share shore leave.
What parents will appreciate are the inclusions of consequences for reckless behavior, a charter who tells the truth in a difficult situation, loyalty to others even in the face of personal peril, and the importance of respecting authority. These many positive messages are taught (and learned) by some very human superheroes.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Frogmen.
When Lawrence learns one of his men has been injured because he participated in a grandstanding stunt, he accuses him and his accomplice of having the wrong kind of bravery. What does he feel are the differences between courage motivated by “brains” verses the kind resulting from “guts?” How can you distinguish between the two?