7.7/10
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56 user 26 critic

The Cruel Sea (1953)

Approved | | Drama, War | 19 August 1953 (USA)
The World War II adventures of a British convoy escort ship and its officers.

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(by), (screenplay)
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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
...
Ferraby
...
Morell
John Warner ...
Baker
...
Bennett
...
Tallow
...
Watts
...
Julie Hallam
...
Elaine Morell
...
Doris Ferraby
...
Tallow's Sister
...
Yeoman Wells
...
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

Taglines:

Monsarrat's brilliant best seller comes surging to life

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 August 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Det grymma havet  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)| (Gaumont Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, Lt Lockhart removes a tarpaulin to reveal the body of a sailor not out of his teens, awaiting burial at sea. This is a nod to the scene in the book when he was confronted with the bodies of several young Wrens (Women's Royal Navy) who die when the ship transporting them to Gibraltar is sunk. See more »

Goofs

Just after the repair in the Mediterranean is completed and Compass Rose gets underway, another ship can be seen on the horizon. See more »

Quotes

Lockhart: [after a battle] Are you all right?
Capt. Ericson: No, I don't mind telling you I'm not!
See more »

Connections

Featured 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb unsentimental rendering of North Atlantic Action in W.w.II
20 June 2002 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

I first read this book when I was 14 (and had my father take it back from me when I had to ask "what's 'urinate' mean, dad?"). Monserrat is a master at the depiction of men at war - from his extraordinary technical knowledge to his ability to convey the fatigue, the cross feelings living in close quarters, the bitterness, the moments of triumph or relief.

This film does Monserrat justice. This movie is the opposite of the "boys' own adventure" sorts of movies. There are no striking heroics - just the very real feeling of people performing onerous often dangerous duties as well as they're able - which is heroic itself. The movie does not skimp on the danger either - the shocking losses of ships in convoys that the corvette "protects", the extreme difficulty of finding and sinking U-boats, almost gives one the feeling, "what's the point of convoys?" (Imagine all surgeons operating with an average 3% survival rate - well, 3% recovery is better than none - but imagine the wear on the surgeons).

The film is gritty, and just has the feel of the 1940s in its bones. The sounds, the movement, the look of cities and harbors, the clothes - it's as if one's uncles' tales have all come to life.

Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden are wonderful - almost always (and necessarily in wartime) stiff upper lip. The movie's moral dramas (bearing upon decisions the captain must make) are wonderfully conceived and executed.

This is truly a superb movie - a great credit to all who worked on it - a memorial to many. It's a completely different - and superior - genre to such movies as Pearl Harbor. I even prefer it to its natural rival, In Which We Serve - good though the latter is.


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