|Directed by||Peter Yates|
|Produced by||Michael Deeley|
|Screenplay by||Stirling Silliphant|
|Based on||Murphy's War|
by Max Catto
|Starring|| Peter O'Toole |
|Music by|| John Barry |
|Edited by|| John Glen |
Frank P. Keller
Michael Deeley-Peter Yates Films
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|January 13, 1971|
|Country||United Kingdom/United States|
Murphy's War is an Eastmancolor 1971 Panavision war film starring Peter O'Toole and Siân Phillips. It was directed by Peter Yates, based on the 1969 novel by Max Catto. The cinematography was by Douglas Slocombe.
Murphy's War is set in South America, in the backwaters of the global conflict (World War 2). it focuses on a stubborn survivor of a sunken merchant ship who is consumed in his quest for revenge and retribution against the German submarine which had sunk his ship. It is one of a series of novels and/or films from the period following broadly similar themes about personal or community resistance to Nazi forces, and the moral relevance between them, including famous novels like The Secret of Santa Vittoria along with less recognized works like Kramer's War , and others.
In the closing days of World War II, Irish crewman Murphy (Peter O'Toole) is the sole survivor of the crew of a merchant ship, Mount Kyle, which had been sunk by a German U-boat and the survivors machine-gunned in the water. Murphy makes it ashore to a missionary settlement on the Orinoco in Venezuela where he is treated by a pacifist Quaker doctor, Dr Hayden (Siân Phillips).
When he discovers the U-boat is hiding farther up river under the cover of the jungle, he sets about obsessively plotting to sink it by any means, including using a surviving Grumman J2F Duck floatplane from the Mount Kyle. The floatplane had been recovered, but the wounded pilot later being shot dead in his hospital bed by the U-boat captain in order to preserve the secret of the sub's location and, presumably, their war-crimes actions in shooting survivors in the water.
Murphy learns how to fly the aircraft in the most daring way, getting it out on the choppy waters of the river and discovering how the controls work by trial and error. Murphy soon finds the U-boat's hiding place and attempts to bomb it using home-made Molotov cocktail bombs, which fails. Later, word comes that Germany has surrendered, but Murphy is obsessed with revenge and makes plans to ram the U-boat with a floating crane owned by the friendly Frenchman, Louis (Philippe Noiret). This also fails as the U-boat dives under him. However, the submerged U-boat becomes stuck in a mud bank. Murphy uses the crane to recover an unexploded torpedo fired earlier from the U-boat and drops it on the trapped crew, killing them. Murphy is also killed as the explosion from the torpedo causes the crane jib to pin him to the deck as the floating crane sinks to the river bed.
Peter Yates wanted to make the film. In 1969 Frank Sinatra was going to star but he dropped out
Paramount Pictures agreed to provide half the finance of the film in exchange for world distribution rights.The other half of the budget came from London Screenplays, a finance company. Michael Deeley says that he and Peter Yates turned down the chance to make The Godfather (1972) to make this film.
Director Yates said he was particularly interested in "the way in which three people — Murphy, a doctor and a Frenchman left in the backwash of war — are really brought together by circumstance and how each character plays on the other and makes them do things that they wish they hadn't and things they sometimes feel proud of."
Siân Phillips, who played the love interest, was appearing opposite her then-husband O'Toole.The married couple had previously appeared together in the 1964 film Becket and the 1969 musical film Goodbye, Mr. Chips .
Filming began on 23 February 1970, and was completed with location filming in Malta on 5 July, having filmed at a number of locations in the regions of Puerto Ordaz and Castillos de Guayana on the Orinoco River in Venezuela, as well as set filming at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath and Twickenham Film Studios, Middlesex, England .Deeley described the shoot as the toughest of his career and it led to the breakup of his partnership with Peter Yates, with whom he had made several films.
The scenes filmed in Malta depict the burning of the merchant ship, after it has been torpedoed by the U-boat. For these particular scenes O'Toole was called upon to swim through water afire with oil and with explosives going off right and left of him. "I used to do all my own stunts when I first started" he said. "I made it a principle. Everything in Lawrence of Arabia I did myself. But after suffering a paralyzed hand, a bad back, broken ankle and countless knocks, I decided never again. It was stupid. Films employ stunt men (for a reason!). They can do these things far better than I. I refused to do any more stunts. [Then] I thought, well, just one more time. So I talked myself into it. In Venezuela I even fly a seaplane. If you want to see a picture of sheer terror have a look at the shots of me when I first fly that seaplane."
Several of the sequences were extraordinarily photographed by Douglas Slocombe, including the scenes of Murphy piloting the floatplane and the visuals along the Orinoco River. Especially notable is a spectacular airborne shot of a flock of scarlet ibises in flight along the shore of the river during the closing credits. The extensive flying scene involves many shots of the floatplane veering sharply to avoid buildings, the jungle and stalling – for that sequence, a camera was strapped to the wing of the aircraft.
Several Peace Corps volunteers serving in towns near the Orinoco River were recruited to play Nazi submariners. The volunteers donated their daily wages to the Venezuelan school districts or other organizations with whom they were working at the time.
The Type IX U-boat was portrayed by the Venezuelan Navy's ARV Carite (S-11); this was the former USS Tilefish, which had been sold to Venezuela in 1960. The floating crane was a former World War II tank landing craft. The OA-12 Duck used in the film was restored and flown by Frank Tallman and is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In the original book, the aircraft was a Fairey Swordfish.
Murphy's War was not well received either critically or at the box office. Roger Greenspun's review in The New York Times centered on the awkwardness of the plot: "The sense of a film in which nothing quite works with anything else pervades 'Murphy's War,' and it extends from such crucial technical details as the sloppy and finally tedious cross-cutting between things (the seaplane, the motor barge, etc.) and the people who are supposed to be operating them, to the playing together of the principal actors."A review in Variety stated, "By no means a film classic, 'Murphy's War' stands out as the kind of good, solid entertainment needed these days to fill houses." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four and called it "an adventure story high in production values but low in suspense." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The story proceeds from the detestable to the improbable by way of the uninteresting. Rarely will you see a major motion picture so flat and devoid of tone or atmosphere. O'Toole's performance is all flash mannerisms and unintelligibly gargled accents." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post called it "a dim, self-defeating adventure movie" with a screenplay "at peculiar cross-purposes with itself ... when the German surrender is announced, the script turns on feisty, vengeful sailor Murphy. All of a sudden it's about the madness of the plan to sink the sub, which, unfortunately, happens to be the raison d'etre of the movie." Although's O'Toole's performance was praised, another review in The New York Daily News called the film a "sluggish action spectacle."
The United States Asiatic Fleet was a fleet of the United States Navy during much of the first half of the 20th century. Before World War II, the fleet patrolled the Philippine Islands. Much of the fleet was destroyed by the Japanese by February 1942, after which it was dissolved, and the remnants incorporated into the naval component of the South West Pacific Area command, which eventually became the Seventh Fleet.
A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing (alighting) on water. Seaplanes are usually divided into two categories based on their technological characteristics: floatplanes and flying boats; the latter are generally far larger and can carry far more. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are in a subclass called amphibious aircraft, or amphibians. Seaplanes were sometimes called hydroplanes, but currently this term applies instead to motor-powered watercraft that use the technique of hydrodynamic lift to skim the surface of water when running at speed.
USS Tilefish (SS-307), a Balao-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the tilefish, a large, yellow-spotted deepwater food fish.
The I-400-class submarine Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) submarines were the largest submarines of World War II and remained the largest ever built until the construction of nuclear ballistic missile submarines in the 1960s. The IJN called this type of submarine Sentoku type submarine. The type name was shortened to Toku-gata Sensuikan. They were submarine aircraft carriers able to carry three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft underwater to their destinations. They were designed to surface, launch their planes, then quickly dive again before they were discovered. They also carried torpedoes for close-range combat.
The submarine film is a subgenre of war film in which the majority of the plot revolves around a submarine below the ocean's surface. Films of this subgenre typically focus on a small but determined crew of submariners battling against enemy submarines or submarine-hunter ships, or against other problems ranging from disputes amongst the crew, threats of mutiny, life-threatening mechanical breakdowns, or the daily difficulties of living on a submarine.
A floatplane is a type of seaplane with one or more slender floats mounted under the fuselage to provide buoyancy. By contrast, a flying boat uses its fuselage for buoyancy. Either type of seaplane may also have landing gear suitable for land, making the vehicle an amphibious aircraft. British usage is to call "floatplanes" "seaplanes" rather than use the term "seaplane" to refer to both floatplanes and flying boats.
I-25 (イ-25) was a B1 type (I-15-class) submarine of the Imperial Japanese Navy that served in World War II, took part in the Attack on Pearl Harbor, and was the only Axis submarine to carry out aerial bombing on the continental United States in World War II, during the so-called Lookout Air Raids, and the shelling of Fort Stevens, both attacks occurring in the state of Oregon.
Patrol torpedo boat PT-34 was a PT-20-class motor torpedo boat of the United States Navy, built by the Electric Launch Company of Bayonne, New Jersey. The boat was laid down as Motor boat submarine chaser PTC-14, but was reclassified as PT-34 prior to its launch on 14 June 1941, and was commissioned on 12 July 1941.
A submarine aircraft carrier is a submarine equipped with aircraft for observation or attack missions. These submarines saw their most extensive use during World War II, although their operational significance remained rather small. The most famous of them were the Japanese I-400-class submarines and the French submarine Surcouf, although small numbers of similar craft were built for other nations' navies as well.
Peter James Yates was an English film director and producer. He was born in Aldershot, Hampshire.
I-19 was a Japanese Type B1 submarine which damaged and destroyed several enemy ships during World War II while serving in the Imperial Japanese Navy. During the Guadalcanal Campaign, with a single torpedo salvo, the submarine sank the aircraft carrier USS Wasp and the destroyer USS O'Brien, and damaged the battleship USS North Carolina.
A scout plane is type of surveillance aircraft, usually of single-engined, two/three seats, shipborne type, and used for the purpose of discovering an enemy position and directing artillery. Therefore, a scout plane is essentially a small naval aircraft, as distinguished from a tactical ground observation aircraft, a strategic reconnaissance "spyplane", or a large patrol flying boat.
Short Folder is a generic name often applied to several different Short Brothers' aircraft types designed and built prior to and during World War I. Short Brothers developed and patented folding wing mechanisms for ship-borne aircraft from 1913; the wings were hinged so that they folded back horizontally alongside the fuselage, reducing the storage space required for stowing them aboard ship.
I-17 was a Japanese B1 type submarine of the Imperial Japanese Navy which saw service during World War II. This long-range submarine cruiser spent the early months of the war in the eastern Pacific and was the first Axis ship to shell the continental United States. She later supported the Imperial Japanese Army in fighting around the Solomon Islands and remained active in the southwest Pacific until she was sunk in August 1943.
The aircraft carrier I was the first planned aircraft carrier conversion project of the German Imperial Navy during World War I. The Imperial Navy had experimented previously with seaplane carriers, though these earlier conversions were too slow to operate with the High Seas Fleet and carried an insufficient number of aircraft. I was intended to carry between 23 and 30 aircraft, including fighters, bombers, and torpedo-bombers.
The Japanese submarine I-10 was a Type A1 submarine built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the 1930s.
Ajax is a floating crane built to move and install the canal locks and other large parts of the Panama canal. Ajax also helped in ship repairs and clearing the canal as needed. Ajax and her identical sister crane, the Hercules, were the largest floating cranes at time of completion, able to install the massive Panama Canal locks. Ajax could lift a maximum of 250 tons to a height of 21 feet, with a close reach. At Ajax's far reach she could lift a maximum of 100 tons. Ajax and Hercules were built by Deutsche Maschinenbau AG (1910-1977) . After the Ajax and Hercules, Deutsche Maschinenbau AG later made the Langer Heinrich, or Long Henry in 1915, in use for 100 years.