The Dam Busters (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  16 July 1955 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 7,220 users  
Reviews: 90 user | 35 critic

The story of how the British attacked German dams in WWII by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.



(book), (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead") (as Wing Comdr. Gibson) , 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
Mrs. Wallis
Charles Carson ...
Stanley Van Beers ...
Sir David Pye, C.B., F.R.S.
Colin Tapley ...
Doctor W. H. Glanville, C.B., C.B.E.
Frederick Leister ...
Committee Member
Eric Messiter ...
Committee Member
Laidman Browne ...
Committee Member
Raymond Huntley ...
Official, National Physical Laboratory
Hugh Manning ...
Official, Ministry of Aircraft Production
Patrick Barr ...
Captain Joseph (Mutt) Summers, C.B.E.
Edwin Styles ...
Observer At Trials
Hugh Moxey ...
Observer At Trials
Anthony Shaw ...
R.A.F. Officer At Trials
Basil Sydney ...


The British are desperate to shorten the length of WW2 and propose a daring raid to smash Germany's industrial heart. At first the objective looks impossible until a British scientist invents an ingenious weapon capable of destroying the planned target. Written by Dave Jenkins <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

flood | bomber | risk | air war | year 1943 | See All (42) »


The story of the "bombs that had to bounce" - and the air-devils who had to drop 'em! See more »


Drama | History | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 July 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dambusters  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When the Lancasters first arrive at Scampton there is a transport aircraft in the background. It is a Handley Page Hastings, which was a postwar type, and it is painted in a 1950s scheme with postwar roundels on the wings. See more »


Gibson and Whitworth are sent off to select pilots for the new squadron. Their first selection is Les Knight, we are shown a photo of the actor Vincent Ball but when we meet the character Les Knight he is actually played by Denys Graham. See more »


Barnes Wallace: Do you know how much water it takes the Germans to make a ton of steel?
Doctor: I haven't the least idea.
Barnes Wallace: One hundred tons. Now just look at this.
[gestures to a map on his desk]
Barnes Wallace: The whole of this great arsenal of war factories in the Ruhr depends for its water on three enormous dams. The Moehne. The Eder. And, the Sorpe. They control the level of the canals and supply a lot of hydroelectric power as well. When those are full they hold four hundred *million* tons of water. Just think of the chaos if we ...
See more »


Referenced in The Thick of It: Episode #1.1 (2005) See more »


The Dam Busters
by Eric Coates
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the great British war movies
30 June 2004 | by (British Columbia, Canada) – See all my reviews

Now that everyone has taken their shots at this magnificent movie, just a couple of comments about it to help put it into context. A) No we didn't see Russian prisoners of war trying to flee for their lives and drowning. We didn't in fact see anybody drowning. But this is war and people die in wars, it's the nature of the beast. B) Seen in its current setting, especially in North America, the use of the name Nigger for the Black Labrador may seem upsetting and racist, explaining why that section of the movie is left out sometimes. But back in Britain in those days, it would not have been regarded as so nasty and derogatory as it now seems here. It was actually a fair common name for Black Labs at the time - though not any more of course. C) Nope, the movie isn't entirely accurate in all aspects - many years after I first saw it back in the UK, a bomber pilot from those days told me that they used not a Lancaster but I think a Halifax to plough into the ground. D) Maybe it did glorify Guy Gibson, but he earned that Victoria Cross, if I recall, for all his diversionary flights to draw off the flak from the other aircraft, who must have felt like sitting ducks the way they had to drop every bomb at precisely the same spot and height, very low over the water. If the movie gives him credit for thinking up the overlapping spotlights, we can take that as artistic licence. Finally, anything which slowed down the German war machine was crucial to Britain. This movie did its best with hardly-developed special effects and produced an exciting and fine picture, made still during the days of rationing in England. I know because I was there at the time. I was just six when this movie was made in 1954 but it's still a real favorite of mine, not least because we were living on the shores of Lake Windermere, England's largest lake, in the English Lake District at the time, and they flew right in over our house for about six weeks that summer to film some parts of it. Remember the scene where after one of the practice runs, they were picking bits of tree out of the undercarriage of one of the aircraft? My father always used to remind that they clipped one of our trees in the filming one day and he used to claim that those bits of branch and foliage actually came from our tree. I guess they probably didn't really and they faked it a bit for the movie, adding that bit of dialogue into the script after the incident because it showed how low they flew. Quite why they showed it in the landing gear I'm not sure, because of course they wouldn't have been flying with their landing gear down, but it is effective in showing how low they flew both in the raid and in the filming. I've always loved this movie though - it's a beaut, as they say - not least because I grew up with Black Labradors. I wept like a baby when Nigger died. Have just watched it for about the zillionth time - have literally lost count. It's still a fine and fitting tribute to the men who gave their lives in the raid all those years ago.

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