Skip to content

Crest of the Wave (1954)

It seems as if every actor has a credit on their list of roles that seems to be an odd casting. One not in keeping with their accustomed output. Case in point is to see star player and poster boy for the Hollywood musical, Gene Kelly starring here in a Boulting Brothers of England film telling of scientific research and development of a new torpedo for the allied forces.

crest of wave poster

When a British scientific team’s research ends in a tragedy, the only other scientist knowledgeable enough to soldier on is American, Gene Kelly. Gene arrives on a small island off the coast of Scotland to carry on the work set forth by the former team. He brings with him 2 navy men and the trio find themselves looked upon as outsiders by their new mates. Kelly finds himself at odds in the lab with his English counterpart, John Justin while his charges, Jeff Richards and Fredd Wayne are not exactly welcomed by a quartet of British volunteers including Bernard Lee and Sidney James.

“I’m just a scientist, not a flag waving fanatic.” says Gene in response to the jealousies displayed in the lab by Justin who believes this Yank is here to take the credit for what has clearly been an English operation up to this point in time. To keep the fighting men at odds, there is a bit of a stretch in the plot involving Richards married to an English girl who just happens to be the girl that Sid James has been pining for since losing her to some Yank. It’s an excuse to keep some dramatics and fisticuffs in the plot but is a tad unbelievable that these two would cross paths on this tiny island for this particular operation. On the bright side, Sid handles the character perfectly with his gruff voice and grumpy style. Who would have thought that this solid character player would make a living for the next 20 odd years in a series of cult sex comedies.

sid james

With failure to solve the problem of having torpedoes exploding before exiting the submarines imminent, the Navy brass pulls the plug on the operation after another setback results in two more deaths. Thankfully Gene and Justin have made their peace and work together to crack the issue at hand. The navy brass in fine British form are quick to point out, “This seems to put a new complexion on the whole project.” That seems like a line made for Jack Hawkins but alas, he is nowhere in sight.

With a little time and energy, I don’t think it’s a stretch to see Gene and his group of volunteers coming out heroically by the fade out of this 90 minute black and white feature. Mr. Kelly plays this in a very low key fashion of a man who has a job to do that is bigger than both him and his British counterparts. Considering that Kelly stars, Sid James is in here and it’s a Boulting Brothers film, one would almost have to assume you were sitting down to watch a comedy classic as opposed to a tale of scientific discovery aimed at bolstering the military’s power and might. One can almost assume that Kelly has been placed in front of the camera to ensure a box office take in North America. A situation that was fairly common in the early fifties when American film stars headed over seas to star in British and European films. Tax issues and studio monies locked up had plenty to do with these casting choices.

bernard lee and Gene Kelly

Bernard Lee as the aging sea dog turns in a polished performance as a hot tempered volunteer who has little use for the aggressive, much younger spit and polish Petty Officer who Lords over his volunteers with threats of reports and punishment for lack of duties. His final scene opposite the Officer is one sure to leave a lasting smile.

seagulls poster

Crest of the Wave is also known under the title Seagulls Over Sorrento and plays TCM on occasion. It’s also available through the Warner Archive Collection which is how I scored my copy.

5 Comments »

  1. A nice writeup, but I don’t think you can describe this as an “odd casting” of Kelly. As well as all the song-and-dance stuff, he did quite a lot of noir/drama: Black Hand (1950), Christmas Holiday (1944) — despite the festive title, it’s an especially grim noir — and The Devil Makes Three (1952), just for starters. Likewise, Sid James did quite a number of dramatic parts before before becoming almost exclusively a comedian. And I don’t think it’s fair to describe the Carry On movies as “cult sex comedies”; they were bawdy and sometimes very bawdy (usually in the form of interminable doubles entendres), but then so are lots of comedies — they weren’t soft porn with laffs.

    Me, I much prefer Kelly’s “serious” roles to his song’n’dance. The first relevant movie I saw was The Devil Makes Three (1952), and as the opening credits rolled my heart sank. But in fact he was really fine in the part, and thereafter I tended to look out for him.

    Is wot I think.

    • It isn’t that I don’t appreciate Kelly’s work in drama or Sid’s record either. I think as the years have gone by that’s what they are most identified with. Carry on films. Maybe a wrong word to describe them but they have I believe a cult following. I for one would include myself as a fan of them having grown up in a home where my parents always seemed to be tuning in if they were on TV.

      • Myself, I wasn’t much thrilled by the Carry On movies; you’re right, though, that they have a sort of cult status in the same sort of a way that all the old Benny Hill Shows do. But I’d advocate that, like the latter, they’re comedies full of smutty/sexist jokes rather than sex comedies.

        In neither case do I object to the sexism. In the case of Benny Hill, I always felt, anyway, that the humor — as in a lot of Marty Feldman’s work (e.g., Every Home Should Have One) — was based in a derision of sexism, or of the social structures that encouraged it. In the Carry On movies the sexism worked both ways.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

IDENTIKIT

The current online container for the writer Konrad Wardh

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

watching movies

%d bloggers like this: