In Harm's Way, based on James Bassett's novel Harm's Way, has enough plot in it for four movies or a good miniseries (when it was shown on network television in prime time, it was broken into two very full nights). On the morning of December 7, 1941, a heavy cruiser, commanded by Captain Rockwell Torrey (John Wayne), and the destroyer Cassidy, under acting commander Lieutenant (jg) William McConnell (Thomas Tryon), are two of a handful of ships that escape the destruction of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Under Torrey's command, the tiny fleet of a dozen ships carries out its orders to seek out and engage the enemy fleet. But lack of fuel and a daring maneuver (but tragic miscalculation) by Torrey causes his ship to be seriously damaged. He's relieved of command and assigned to a desk job routing convoys in the shakeup following the attack, and his exec and oldest friend, Commander Paul Eddington (Kirk Douglas), is reassigned after a brawl, the result of his anger after identifying the body of his wife (Barbara Bouchet) who was killed during the attack while cavorting with an Marine Corps officer. Torrey's shore assignment leads him to reestablish contact on a very hostile level with his estranged son, Ensign Jere Torrey (Brandon de Wilde), his estranged son from a long-ended marriage, who is also serving at Pearl Harbor; he also establishes a romantic relationship with Lt. Maggie Haines (Patricia Neal), a navy nurse; he also befriends Commander Egan Powell (Burgess Meredith), a special-intelligence officer. Through his son's boasting during their bitter first meeting, Torrey learns of a top-secret offensive called Sky Hook — he figures out enough of it to impress Powell, and when Sky Hook gets bogged down by the indecisiveness of its commander, Vice Admiral Broderick (Dana Andrews), Powell convinces the commander of the Pacific Fleet (Adm. Chester Nimitz, unnamed here but played by Henry Fonda) that Torrey is the man to salvage the operation.