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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 2,702 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 19 critic

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

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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
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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 All (38) »

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

On boarding the castle class frigate, Ericson and Lockhart question whether there is actually a castle called 'Saltash Castle'. There is a castle in Saltash but it is more correctly called Trematon Castle. See more »

Goofs

Some depth charges are clearly labelled "INERT FILLED." See more »

Quotes

Lt. Cmdr. Ericson: [as Narrator] For us the Battle of the Atlantic was becoming a private war. If you were in it, you knew all about it. You knew how to keep watch on filthy nights, and how to go without sleep, how to bury the dead, and how to die without wasting anyone's time.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Only Fools and Horses....: To Hull and Back (1985) 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

Torpedos off Starboard Bow
19 February 1999 | by (York, England) – See all my reviews

Archetypal British WW2 fare which is very clearly a cut above the rest. Jack Hawkins steers HMS Compass Rose, a small escort ship, through the perils of convoy duty and the ever present risk of U-boats.

Hawkins excels as the exhausted Captain in this no frills account of men battling against a constant and ruthless enemy - the sea. A melancholic soundtrack and the distinct lack of jingoism create a forlorn atmosphere as the ship's company endures periods of grinding boredom interrupted only by the sudden terror of U-boat attacks. In the tensest of scenes, during a rare heady pursuit, the radar gives Hawkins his firmest ever indication of an enemy submarine. "There are men in the water just there" he murmurs, realising that as Captain he is alone in making an agonising decision - whether to drop depth charges and risk killing a group of British survivors floating ahead of him. The attack is pressed home, killing the defenceless men but failing to hit the U-boat, and leads to a moving scene where Hawkins' resolute professionalism crumbles in a brief but heartfelt show of drunken emotion.

The trips to sea are punctuated by tableaux scenes on shore, where the tribulations of officers and crew are no less fraught with threats and worry. In a country under siege there can be no escape from air-raids or even an adulterous wife. "It's no-ones fault" says Hawkins "It's the war, the whole bloody war." A strong supporting cast, includes 'youngsters' Denholm Elliot, Donald Sinden and Stanley Baker.

This is a film that succeeds in telling how dangerously close to the edge the British came during the Battle of the Atlantic and of the enormous impact it had on ordinary individuals. The closing scene leaves the audience with a real sense of how, after five long years of war, a nation was left exhausted and emotionally drained.


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