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Lifeboat (1944)

Approved | | Thriller, War | 28 January 1944 (USA)
Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Walter Slezak ...
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Canada Lee ...
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Storyline

In the Atlantic during WWII, a ship and a German U-boat are involved in a battle and both are sunk. The survivors from the ship gather in one of the boats. They are from a variety of backgrounds: an international journalist, a rich businessman, the radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor and an engineer with communist tendencies. Trouble starts when they pull a man out of the water who turns out to be from the U-boat. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

What happens when six men and three women are alone in an open boat ? See more »

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

28 January 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Náufragos  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,590,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tallulah Bankhead was noted for her fierce political positions, including a vehement hatred of the Axis powers during World War II. Although co-star Walter Slezak was an outspoken critic of the German government, his Austrian background and the Nazi character he played in the film put him firmly in Bankhead's sites, and she insulted him constantly. When Italy surrendered during filming and Slezak expressed the hope that this would bring the war to an early end, Bankhead spat out "I hope they spill every drop of German blood there is. I hate them all! And I HATE YOU!" All he could say was "I'm sorry about that, Tallulah." See more »

Goofs

A curl of Connie's hair switches from being loose and blowing in the breeze to tightly pinned back between shots during the scene when Connie asks Kovac to fix the clasp on her bracelet. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[indistinct shouting]
John Kovac: Ahoy there!
[climbs into boat]
John Kovac: Lady, you certainly don't look like somebody that's just been shipwrecked.
Connie Porter: Man, I certainly feel like it.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Classified X (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Die Meistersinger: Preislied
(1867) (uncredited)
Written by Richard Wagner
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Your Rescuer Or Your Captor
1 June 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

When David O. Selznick got some loan out money from Darryl Zanuck for Alfred Hitchcock's services for two films (the second was never made), I'm sure Zanuck must have just loved Hitchcock when he told him that he wanted to make a film with just one set. Talk about cost cutting, anyway after a few failed scripts, Zanuck got American premier novelist John Steinbeck to write an original screenplay and since it was timely patriotic, Hitchcock did it.

So for Hitchcock asking for a one set film, the movie going public got Lifeboat. A disparate group of passengers and crew are torpedoed in the mid-Atlantic and wind up together in a lifeboat. After their ship went down however, another ship in the convoy rammed in the U-Boat that sank them. The last one picked up on board is a German.

The crew members include John Hodiak, William Bendix, Hume Cronyn and Canada Lee. Passengers are Mary Anderson, Heather Angel and a dead baby she clings to, and millionaire Henry Hull. And of course playing a Dorothy Thompson like correspondent is the great Tallulah Bankhead.

Lifeboat is a wonderful film not just for the fact that Alfred Hitchcock succeeded in making a one set film that you are never conscious of while watching. But it's the only opportunity to see Tallulah at the height of her fame. She made a bunch of Hollywood features at the beginning of the sound era, but they flopped for the most part. So she went back to Broadway which loved her best and her season box seat at the Polo Grounds where she was the New York Giants most devoted fan. Lifeboat should have rejuvenated a movie career, but she apparently didn't care. Lifeboat even on its own is her best work on film, let alone in comparison to other films.

The villain of Lifeboat is our German, Walter Slezak. He's a devious and cunning individual, he seems stronger and more fit than the other Lifeboat survivors and because of that and in spite of the fact he's hated, he gradually assumes charge. There's a reason for his actions and his fitness and when it's discovered, grave consequences erupt.

Canada Lee, distinguished black actor from the stage, gets a role here that's far from Willie Best or Step N' Fetchit. My favorite scene in Lifeboat is when Hodiak who represents the left on the boat is trying to rouse the rest to just toss Walter Slezak to the sharks when he first arrives, asks Lee for his opinion as he's a member of the party. Lee replies simply he didn't realize he had any vote or say in the matter, a very trenchant observation about how blacks were disenfranchised in a quarter of the USA, some twenty years before the Voting Rights Act.

The Lifeboat survivors are a cross section of the American people and this World War II allegory in microcosm is to show just why these Nazis are as evil as they are and why we have to resist. Even today more than sixty years after it was first made, Lifeboat is still a great cinematic achievement from Alfred Hitchcock.

And it was made so cheaply which Darryl Zanuck ecstatic.


23 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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