YOU’RE IN THE NAVY NOW-a 1951 Gary Cooper Movie that’s funny, very funny

Just look at this line-up in the CAST-

I was really enjoying seeing one future Star after another in this Movie. And talk about their being so young. They were that. But what really Caught my attention was how fun this Movie really is. It’s a fun US Navy Movie that is so much fun. And the Predicament is a Hoot. And if you’ve ever served in the Navy, this one gem might put a chuckle in your mouth. But if you can place yourself in their shoes, you’ll enjoy it more. So Pop some Popcorn and Enjoy!

The U.S.S. Texas is the last surviving warship of its kind–powered by
reciprocating steam engines. It was built during a period in which naval
authorities were switching to the newly-developed steam turbine for propulsion,
but were unsure of its suitability. Only one more warship, the New York,
commissioned one month after the Texas, was to be powered by the reciprocating
Such was the state of the art at the time that the Texas¹ engines were
described as “the ultimate in naval reciprocating engine construction.” They
could be rightfully described in these glowing terms, as was shown by their
dependable service from 1914 until after World War II, when the Texas was
removed from the Navy’s active roster.

You’re in the Navy Now was filmed in black-and-white in 1950 on location in Newport News, Virginia,[5] at the Norfolk Naval Yard in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and aboard the PC-1168 based there. Except for stock footage of a boxing match, verisimilitude in the film was high. Aside from PC-1168, ships that appeared prominently in the film were USS Luzon (ARG-2)USS Albemarle (AV-5)USS Marquette (AKA-95)USS Fremont (APA-44)USS Chilton (APA-38)USS Roanoke (CL-145)USS Perry (DD-844),USS Vulcan (AR-5) and USS Mattabesset (AOG-52). With the exception of the Albemarle, all (including PC-1168) were anachronistic to the date of the storyline.

The screenplay was based on the article “The Flying Teakettle” by John W. Hazard, printed in the January 21, 1950 issue of The New Yorker. This humorous piece recounted incidents from Hazard’s own World War II experience as captain of a diesel-powered warship. Though both Hazard and his crew had little experience at sea, they were selected to participate in a Navy experimental program that ultimately ended in failure.[3]

Upon purchasing the rights, 20th Century Fox changed the title to U.S.S. Teakettle. Though neither director Henry Hathaway nor screenwriter Richard Murphy was adept at comedy, the studio relied on the “potential absurdities” of the storyline about inexperienced reservists “guiding an unreliable vessel through treacherous waters” to carry the film.[3]

Critical reviews

The film received positive reviews from critics. Variety called it “rib-tickling filmfare”, noting that the series of adventures aboard ship “are run off smartly and help to disguise fact that there’s practically no plot”. This review also cited Cooper’s performance for “sharpening up the entertainment values”.[6] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised the screenplay, acting, and directing, calling it “the most explosively funny service picture that has come along since the nickelodeon versions of the sinking of the battleship Maine“.[7] Otis Guernsey Jr. wrote in his review for Herald-Tribune: “Gary Cooper is ideally cast. His acting is of the economical and yet clear and versatile type that would make any audience identify itself with his frustration”.[4]

Box office and re-titling

Despite glowing reviews, the film did not attract audiences. Rather than re-edit and re-release the film, 20th Century Fox gave it a new title, You’re in the Navy Now, in March 1951[5] and continued its run.[4] With the new title, the film fared slightly better at the box office.[4] It eventually lodged a net loss of $122,000.[5

Modern reviews

Modern reviews are less complimentary. Craig Butler of AllMovie calls You’re in the Navy Now “a disappointing naval comedy that seems to have played much better when it was originally released. … Seen today, it’s labored and frequently boring”. Butler critiques Hathaway’s direction as “workmanlike and uninspired”, and Cooper’s “attempts at comedy are too often forced”.[8] Erickson agrees: “Viewed today, You’re in the Navy Now doesn’t seem quite as funny as many observers thought it was in 1951, hampered by the cut-and-dried ‘factory’ look common to most 20th Century Fox releases of the era”.[9]

Modern Critics often times don’t take into considerations of the time period. This Movie was coming off the cuffs of WWII. And most movies vomingbout were War Movies that didn’t give the viewers much to laugh about. But this Movie sure does. I loved this Movie. The whole Top Secret Project is a Hoot. But it’s fun to watch too.

USS PC-1168 was a PC-461-class submarine chaser built for the United States Navy during World War IIPC-1168 is notable for being the ship on which the film You’re in the Navy Now, which starred Gary Cooper, was filmed in 1950. The ship was later transferred to the Republic of China Navy, serving from 1954 to 1970 as ROCS Ching Kiang (PC-116).

USS PC-1168
United States
NameUSS PC-1168
BuilderSullivan Drydock and Repair Corporation, Brooklyn, NY
Laid down3 April 1943
Launched3 July 1943
Commissioned3 December 1943
Decommissioned19 May 1954
Fate19 May 1954, transferred to Republic of China Navy
Stricken16 December 1970
NameROCS Ching Kiang (PC-116)
Acquired19 May 1954
Decommissioned16 December 1970
General characteristics
Class and typePC-461-class submarine chaser
Displacement295 tons fully loaded
Length175 ft (53 m)
Beam23 ft (7.0 m)
Draft10 ft 10 in (3.30 m)
Propulsion2 × General Motors 16-278A diesel engines (Serial No. 14240 and 14241), two shafts.
Speed20 knots
Armament1 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal1 × 40 mm gun3 × 20 mm cannons2 × rocket launchers4 × depth charge throwers2 × depth charge tracks