Watching 1939: Navy Secrets (1939)

In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult. 

1939 film: 
Navy Secrets (1939)

Release date: 
Feb. 8, 1939

Cast: 
Fay Wray, Grant Withers, Craig Reynolds, Wilhelm von Brincken, Robert Frazer, Dewey Robinson, Joseph Crehan, Joseph W. Girard, André Cheron

Studio: 
Monogram Pictures

Director: 
Howard Bretherton

Plot:
After spending his Navy shore leave with Carol Evans (Wray), CPO Jimmy Woodford (Reynolds) is arrested for suspicion of espionage. Not knowing he was arrested, Carol waits to meet Jimmy for a date but is met by his friend CPO Steve Roberts (Withers). While the two spend an evening together, Steve tries to figure out where a suspicious envelope is to be delivered, encountering Navy spies along the way.

1939 Notes:
By the numbers:
– This is the only film Fay Wray was in that was released in 1939.
– Grant Withers was in six films released in 1939.
– Craig Reynolds was in four films released in 1939.

Other trivia: 
• The film was based on a short story by “Shore Leave” by Steve Fisher, published in the August 1938 issue of Hearst’s International Cosmopolitan.
• Anne Nagel was originally slated to star in the film, then titled “Navy Girl,” according to a Nov. 3, 1938, Los Angeles Times news brief, “Movieland Jottings and Castings.”
• Lindsley Parsons was announced as the producer of the film, in the Nov. 3, 1938, Los Angeles Times brief.
• Working title was “Navy Girl.”

Grant Withers and Fay Wray in “Navy Secrets” (1939)

My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
This B-movie starts off intriguing and exciting but ends with a thud.

We begin with Fay Wray, as Carol Evans, and Craig Reynolds, as Navy Chief Petty Officer Jimmy Woodford, leaving each other on what seems like a fun-filled day and romantic day. Jimmy promises to marry Carol when he returns. After he drops her off, we realize Carol isn’t serious about the romance.

I was hooked as soon as Carol dumps an armload of cupie dolls in the trash.

When Carol is supposed to meet Jimmy that night for dinner, she’s met instead by his friend Steve Roberts, played by Grant Withers. The two dine, while Carol exchanges suspicious glances with the staff at the restaurant, all seeming to be working against Steve.

Steve has an envelope that belonged to Jimmy that he feels they need to deliver. The two try to figure out who the envelope should go to.

While the movie started off exciting, it derails while mystery and intrigue take a back seat to the romance between Carol and Steve.

We focus more on the delivery of stamps, rather than the fact that there is a spy ring inside (and outside) the Navy. I’m still not really sure if Jimmy was guilty? I’m guessing he was.

This film is only an hour long and digestible. I’m just a little disappointed that what I thought was going to be an enjoyable surprise ended up a little disappointing.

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