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The Final Countdown

The other day I spotted a DVD that I just HAD to buy.

The movie is a World War II classic. It's a retelling of the attack on Pearl Harbor and features John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Carroll O'Connor, Slim Pickens, James Mitchum, Barbara Bouchet, Larry Hagman, Henry Fonda, Patricia Neal, and a bunch of other classic actors. I've seen it once or twice, but never planned on owning it.

Until I saw the cover.

HarmsWayCover.jpg Click To Embiggen

It just stopped me cold. And once I stopped laughing, I had to buy it. (It was only seven bucks.)

Mad Wizbang Bonus Bucks (redeemable for absolutely NOTHING) to anyone who can see what had me convulsing with laughter in the middle of a Best Buy without reading the extended section.

As I said, the movie is set during World War II, in the years 1941-1943 or so. It was filmed in 1965. John Wayne died in 1979.

And the ship featured on the cover is the USS Deyo, DD-989, one of the last of the amazingly useful and versatile and capable Spruance-class destroyers.

Commissioned March 1980, stricken April 2004, sunk in a weapons exercise August 2005.

In fact, if you follow that link to the Wikipedia page, it looks like the artist just took that photo, reversed it (note that the Phalanx mount -- that's the white dome just in front of the mast -- has changed sides from starboard to port), and lowered the angle just a little.

No, I don't think that so easily identifying the ship makes me too much of a Naval geek. The hull number is very clear, and the US Navy has only had a couple of classes of ships reach the high 900's -- destroyers and LSTs come to mind. Further, it's obvious a relatively modern warship -- the single gun on the bow, the aforementioned Phalanx mount (introduced in 1978), the ASROC launcher behind the gun, and the sheer number of antennae and whatnot on the masts clearly demonstrate that it was NOT a World War II-vintage vessel.

The artist obviously just grabbed an image of a destroyer and slapped it on the canvas, not bothering to notice -- or care -- that the ship he chose didn't even exist until almost 49 years after the movie was set, 15 years after the movie was made, and 1 year after the star died.

And, probably, didn't care.

But dammit, I do.


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Comments (19)

Looks like an Arleigh Burke... (Below threshold)
Son of a Pig and a Monkey:

Looks like an Arleigh Burke (?) class destroyer. Wasn't Kirk Douglas in the Final Countdown?

I just saw it for the first... (Below threshold)

I just saw it for the first time last week. Great movie. Besides the warfare scenes, the effects on people who fought it and their families was of greatest interest. A war does effect people in very personal ways.

Good catch on the photo but don't let it distract anyone one from watching the movie.

I love this film as well, b... (Below threshold)

I love this film as well, but I would also recommend THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, TORA,TORA, TORA, DAS BOOT(Extended director's cut), BEACH RED, THE LONGEST DAY, THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE, ENEMY AT THE GATES, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, PORKCHOP HILL and THE BLUE MAX as even more superior war films yet. But John Wayne is hard to beat as a personality.

This is what happens when y... (Below threshold)

This is what happens when you consult Joe Biden to ensure historic accuracy....

Maybe this is some kind of ... (Below threshold)
kbiel Author Profile Page:

Maybe this is some kind of remix release with elements of The Philadelphia Experiment (the movie, not the urban legend/conspiracy theory) mixed in.

In Harm's Way buffs- What d... (Below threshold)

In Harm's Way buffs- What did Kirk Douglas refer to you when he said "When this baby comes your way, look out!"

A= Director Otto Preminger
B- Actress Paula Prentiss
C- The Japanese Battleship Yamato

And this.....Aren't there a... (Below threshold)
SuperDave Author Profile Page:

And this.....Aren't there an awful lot of sailors up on the deck (just watching the bombs burst around them)? I don't think at General Quarters that would be the case.

I'm a retired jarhead - but... (Below threshold)

I'm a retired jarhead - but I've been shaking my head for years over the missed opportunity that In Harm's Way was as a war movie and venue for two titans of the screen. You are correct that it's a Spruance Class destroyer on the cover. But wait 'til you see the movie. Of the real ships that the Navy allowed to be filmed I don't believe any of them actually saw WWII service. Furthermore, the special effects ships are just plain awful. Otto Preminger must've lost faith and gone down budget on it. Furthermore, the acting by Shane/Hud boy-star Brandon de Wilde has not stood the test of time. Poor thing really couldn't act... It actually reminds me lot of the laughable Pearl Harbor as imagined by Ben Affleck. No attempt at realism in either the ship scenes, the actual historical record, nor the laughable acting by Affleck -- who, alas, like Brandon de Wilde, simply can't act.

Kirk Douglas was reportedly... (Below threshold)

Kirk Douglas was reportedly unhappy about how the models of the ships looked way too much like toys and argued with director Otto Preminger(Mr. Freeze on the old 1960's BATMAN series) about this. Indeed the ships do look a little modelike in some scenes in the film. But it's still great entertainment.

Sorry Jay, but it does make... (Below threshold)
Lorie Byrd:

Sorry Jay, but it does make you a Naval geek and I say that lovingly.

Kirk's shower scene bitch s... (Below threshold)

Kirk's shower scene bitch slapping of the political, ass-kissing, commander is one of the best alpha male scenes of all time.

You're right, Jay. You're ... (Below threshold)

You're right, Jay. You're a geek :)

Bill, the answer to your qu... (Below threshold)

Bill, the answer to your question is C: the Yamato. Largest battleship ever built.

The answer to your question... (Below threshold)
peter the bellhop:

The answer to your question Bill is 'C'.

Shame that they did that cover DD that way. What an half ass job they did.

The film is a classic war film, very well done. Weaving fictional persons into historic settings.

Another great one of these was "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance". There's a piece in the second above where one of the leads were being taken to Auschwitz concentration camp by train, scary as hell at the end at night! The camera was placed on the catcher on the front of train, just scary!!!

Hrmmm. First thing I notice... (Below threshold)

Hrmmm. First thing I noticed from the thumbnail was the incongruous outline. First thing I saw after clicking to enbiggen (loved that BTW!) the Phalanx mount! The dish on the mast came second, but what really hit me was that the ship does not seem to be moving, the crew seems to be sightseeing, and it's under attack. Then I saw the hull number, and it seemed weirdly high. All that was too much, and I spilled my coffee before noticing the single gun mount.


Thanks for posting this, and thanks also for the data. I hadn't known the Phalanx had been around since the 70's (for some reason i thought 1980, and I was wrong).

It took me about 20 seconds... (Below threshold)

It took me about 20 seconds, but I thought it was rather obvious...

In Harm's Way buff... (Below threshold)
In Harm's Way buffs- What did Kirk Douglas refer to you when he said "When this baby comes your way, look out!"

A= Director Otto Preminger
B- Actress Paula Prentiss
C- The Japanese Battleship Yamato

The answer is C The Japanese Battleship Yamato I have this movie on VHS. I should really get the DVD and see what parts they added.

Everyone who said C is only... (Below threshold)
Son of a Pig and a Monkey:

Everyone who said C is only half-right. The Yamato (18" guns vs 16" guns on Iowa class) had a sister ship, the Musashi.

Late to the game, but the P... (Below threshold)
Boyd Author Profile Page:

Late to the game, but the Phalanx CIWS (pronounced "SEE Whiz") Close In Weapons System (the white R2D2-looking thing over the bridge on the port side) was the first thing that caught my eye, then all the radars mounted on the various masts, then the realization that DD 989 is a Spruance-class destroyer...

So a quick google on DD 989 reveals that it's the USS Deyo (who had Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song" (Day-O!) as the "ship's song" back in the 80s, by the way).






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