5 May 2013 | bkoganbing
American Know How
I doubt that Henry J. Kaiser on whom the lead character is based ever had all the problems that Michael O'Shea has in this film. He's the Man From Frisco a hard driving construction boss who has a brand new idea for building ships in mass quantity which in the years before our entry into World War II we knew we would need.
O'Shea has modified the assembly line that Henry Ford developed for the automobile and he wants to try his experiment in a sleepy Pacific coast town where the main employer is shipyard owner Gene Lockhart. Lockhart considers himself a craftsman in an industry increasingly not attuned to his ideas.
It takes Pearl Harbor to wake these people up and they reluctantly get behind O'Shea. Lockhart still has his doubts as does his right hand man Dan Duryea who is interested in Lockhart's daughter Anne Shirley. So is O'Shea which gives things a personal twist as well. Younger brother Tommy Bond is all for O'Shea.
The best scenes are those of the construction work done on what became known as Liberty Ships. Part of those scenes are narrated by Stephanie Bachelor who has a small role as a woman with a child who comes west to support her husband overseas in his war. She is the prototype for the Rosie the Riveteer character from those war years although in this instance riveting is out, welding is in. Incidentally Bachelor's quiet understated performance is the best in the film by far.
Man From Frisco might have been a better film had it not been hampered with a silly romantic subplot.