7.7/10
3,187
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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Director: George More O'Ferrall
Stars: Jack Hawkins, Michael Denison, Andrew Osborn
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ericson
...
Lockhart
...
Ferraby
...
Morell
John Warner ...
Baker
...
Bennett
...
Tallow
Liam Redmond ...
Watts
...
Julie Hallam
...
Elaine Morell
...
Doris Ferraby
...
Tallow's Sister
...
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

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  »

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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

If you look carefully, you will see that the rank insignia on Ericson's (Jack Hawkins') sleeves are in a different "font" from those of the other officers on his ship. This is because Ericson is RNR (Royal Navy Reserve: men who had been discharged from the regular navy but were retained as reservists - and indeed the novel makes it clear that Ericson had served at Jutland before joining the Merchant Navy), whilst the other officers are RNVR (Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve - men who joined after the outbreak of the war). See more »

Goofs

The ship used for HMS Compass Rose is clearly too old to be a brand new ship. 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.
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Connections

Featured in Forever Ealing (2002) 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
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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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