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The Ash Can Fleet (1939)

Story of Colonial American David Bushnell, inventor of the submarine and depth charge.


Fred Zinnemann


Herman Hoffman (original screenplay)


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Uncredited cast:
James Bush ... David Bushnell (uncredited)
Lester Dorr ... Newsman (uncredited)
Gladden James ... Newsman (uncredited)
Claude King ... Instructor (uncredited)
Ferdinand Schumann-Heink Ferdinand Schumann-Heink ... Submarine Commander (uncredited)
William Tannen ... Submarine Navigator (uncredited)
Robert Warwick ... Von Hindenberg (uncredited)
Frank Whitbeck Frank Whitbeck ... Narrator (voice) (uncredited)


Story of Colonial American David Bushnell, inventor of the submarine and depth charge.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Biography | War


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Release Date:

9 September 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ash-Can Fleet See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
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Did You Know?


Anchors Aweigh
(1906) (uncredited)
Music by Charles A. Zimmerman
Lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles and R. Lovell
Played during the opening credits
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User Reviews

Good Short
25 May 2013 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

The Ash Can Float (1939)

*** (out of 4)

Nine-minute documentary short from MGM tells the story of Connecticut farm boy David Bushnell who would attend Yale and eventually come up with the submarine. We see how he came up with the plans to build the first one and in an re-enactment we see it put to use for the first time. The last couple minutes of this short show some important moments in history where the submarine was used to American's benefit. THE ASH CAN FLOAT starts off with narrator Frank Whitbeck talking about the final World War and I guess it's somewhat weird to watch now considering how close we were to yet another one. With that said, film buffs should enjoy this film even if it might not be 100% accurate. I thought all of the re-enactments were rather entertaining and especially the one dealing with the first time the sub was used in battle. I thought there was some nice details given and there's no question that director Fred Zinnemann at least keeps things moving at a very good pace.

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