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The Cruel Sea (1953)

 -  Drama | War  -  19 August 1953 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,667 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 19 critic

The World War II adventures of a British convoy escort ship and its officers.

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Title: The Cruel Sea (1953)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ericson
...
Lockhart
John Stratton ...
Ferraby
...
Morell
John Warner ...
Baker
...
Bennett
Bruce Seton ...
Tallow
Liam Redmond ...
Watts
...
Julie Hallam
Moira Lister ...
Elaine Morell
June Thorburn ...
Doris Ferraby
Megs Jenkins ...
Tallow's Sister
Meredith Edwards ...
Yeoman Wells
Glyn Houston ...
Phillips
...
Tonbridge
Edit

Storyline

At the start of World War II, Cmdr. Ericson is assigned to convoy escort HMS Compass Rose with inexperienced officers and men just out of training. The winter seas make life miserable enough, but the men must also harden themselves to rescuing survivors of U-Boat attacks, while seldom able to strike back. Traumatic events afloat and ashore create a warm bond between the skipper and his first officer. Atmospheric sea footage. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

escort | convoy | sea | u boat | survivor | See more »

Taglines:

Monsarrat's brilliant best seller comes surging to life

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 August 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Det grymma havet  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)| (Gaumont Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Donald Sinden was originally supposed to play First Lieutenant James Bennett, until Stanley Baker was cast instead. See more »

Goofs

The U-53, a type VIIB u-boat, was sunk on 23 February 1940 in the North Channel by HMS Gurkha, not late in the war. See more »

Quotes

Watts: [repairing the engine] Come to see the fun, sir? It won't be long now.
Morell: Fine, chief, but the captain's a little worried about the noise. Could you do anything to... tone it down a bit?
Watts: Pretty well finished now, sir. We're just flabbin' up the nuts. Could you hear the hammerin' up top?
Morell: Hear it? There were U-boats popping up from miles around complaining about the racket.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hitler: The Comedy Years (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chestnut Tree
or "The Spreading Chestnut Tree" (uncredited)
Author unknown, perhaps traditional song
Sung by the sailors in the raft to keep wake
See more »

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User Reviews

Superb for 1950's Brit movie
20 August 2004 | by (Newport, RI USA) – See all my reviews

Post British World War II movies helped sustain the ailing British Film industry in the 1950's. There were some truly awful movies made - probably so those who were really there could turn to their girls and say - "you know it wasn't really like that".

The Cruel Sea is an exceptional exception. Firstly it is based on a superb book, secondly it is well cast with Jack Hawkins at the height of his powers playing Captain Ericsson and thirdly it is well abridged. Getting a 500 page novel into 121 mins means that there will be cuts - but they are well done and the narrative thread of the book is not lost. There is also very little "messing with the story" so prevalent in Hollywood.

The Royal Navy obviously thought the movie worth supporting and helped find a real Flower Class corvette. Of all 135 built - 22 had been sunk by the enemy, 13 lost in bad weather and the rest paid off after the war. "Compass Rose" sails across the screen - firing her weapons and throwing her depth charges (you want to see what REAL depth charges are like when they go off - watch this) in beautifully photographed black and white action sequences.

Suspend your historical accuracy regarding true ship detail however - throughout the movie the Flower is in her 1945 paid off configuration with a lantern style radar that wasn't introduced till half way through the war and the continuity switches from moderate weather to flat calm at the flick of a scene as needed when the ship is making turns. Still you want to see heavy weather - there is some real rough stuff with the corvette punching into it and some stock wartime footage very carefully grafted in to give the necessary verisimilitude.

But the real narrative is how the specks of humanity are treated by the war and the cruel sea and it is amply conveyed in the morning after a torpedo'ing. Count how many are INCREDIBLY lucky to be found alive in rafts and remember how many were on the ship that was sunk in the night. It's a grim ratio and a vivid portrayal of the real cost of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Young and upcoming Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliot and Virginia McKenna support this superb movie - it made Donald Sinden.

I hope there is a DVD coming because the photography is clearly good enough to be shown at a higher resolution but this should not stop you watching this now.


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