Don’t Go Near the Water (1957): Service Comedy, Starring Glenn Ford and Gia Scala

Don’t Go Near the Water, a screen adaptation of William Brinkley’s 1956 novel of the same name, stars Glenn Ford and Gia Scala.

Grade B- (**1/2* out of *****)

Don’t Go Near the Water

Theatrical release poster

This is one of several service comedies Glenn Ford made after the huge success of The Teahouse of the August Moon, in which he starred opposite Brando.

Lieutenant (j.g.) Max Siegel (Ford) and other US Navy personnel are stuck in a public relations unit far from the fighting. Lieutenant Commander Clinton T. Nash (Fred Clark), their commanding officer and a stockbroker in civilian life, refuses to allow anyone to transfer out.

Much of Siegel’s time is spent showing war correspondents (like obnoxious Gordon Ripwell (Keenan Wynn)) and visiting Congressmen around the island.

When Siegel spots the beautiful local schoolteacher Melora Alba (Gia Scala), he begins to court her. However, they break up when he wants to live in New York for his career, while she is needed on the island.

Siegel’s yeoman, Adam Garrett (Earl Holliman), falls in love with Navy nurse Alice Tomlen (Anne Francis), which is serious breach of Navy regulations, as Tomlen is an officer while Garrett is an enlisted man.

However, Siegel pretends to be dating her himself in order to give Garrett the opportunity to spend time with her. This couple also fall in love. When Nash finds out, Siegel suggests a fitting punishment would be a transfer to a fighting unit.

Nash then comes up with the idea to send an ordinary sailor on morale-boosting tour, and chooses Farragut Jones (Mickey Shaughnessy). But Jones turns out to be foul-mouthed and heavily tattooed, not exactly what Nash had hoped for.

When Siegel has to escort another war correspondent, the sexy blonde Deborah Aldrich (Eva Gabor), she makes her way aboard a heavy cruiser on its way to a combat operation, to Admiral Junius Boatwright’s (Howard Smith) disapproval.

Mary Wickes shines as Janie, a nurse who enjoys the attention based on her being one of few American women on the island.

At the end of the war, Siegel realizes that he cannot live without Melora, and decides to remain on the island.

A commercial hit, the movie earned $4,265,000 in the US, and $1,875,000 elsewhere, resulting in profit of $1,004,000.

Glenn Ford as Lieutenant (j.g.) Max Siegel
Gia Scala as Melora Alba
Earl Holliman as Adam Garrett
Anne Francis as Lieutenant (j.g.) Alice Tomlen
Keenan Wynn as Gordon Ripwell
Fred Clark as Lieutenant Commander Clinton T. Nash
Eva Gabor as Deborah Aldrich
Russ Tamblyn as Ensign Tyson
Jeff Richards as Lieutenant Ross Pendleton
Mickey Shaughnessy as Farragut Jones
Howard Smith as Admiral Junius Boatwright
Romney Brent as Mr. Alba, Melora’s father
Jack Straw as Lieutenant Commander Gladstone
Robert Nichols as Lieutenant Commander Hereford
John Alderson as Lieutenant Commander Diplock
Jack Albertson as Rep. George Jansen
Charles Watts as Rep. Arthur Smithfield


Directed by Charles Walters
Screenplay by Dorothy Kingsley and George Wells, based on Don’t Go Near the Water, 1956 novel by William Brinkley
Produced by Lawrence Weingarten
Cinematography Robert J. Bronner
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Music by Bronislau Kaper
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: November 14, 1957

Running time: 107 minutes
Budget $2,495,000
Box office $6,140,000