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The Dam Busters (1955)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 16 July 1955 (USA)
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.

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Writers:

(book), (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead") (as Wing Comdr. Gibson) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
...
Mrs. Wallis
...
...
Captain Joseph (Mutt) Summers, C.B.E.
Ernest Clark ...
...
Group Captain J. N. H. Whitworth, D.S.O., D.F.C.
...
Doctor
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
Edit

Storyline

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 <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 July 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dambusters  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Clips of this film were used in Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982). See more »

Goofs

In two shots of flights of three Lancasters taking off on the mission, each has a gap in the ventral fuselage where the bomb should be. Later shots of the bombers in flight have the weapon showing as a semicircular bulge in the same place - the silhouette of the bomb was presumably added in post-production, with the take-off sequence forgotten about. See more »

Quotes

RAF Officer at trials: [after another failed test of the full-sized bomb] Well, it's a bad business isn't it?
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: Yes, I'm afraid it is.
RAF Officer at trials: What are you going to do?
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: I think I know the trouble, I must work on it again.
RAF Officer at trials: Well, here we are on the 22nd of April. The deadline date for the raid the 19th of May. That's barely four weeks.
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: Give me a few more days. A week at most.
RAF Officer at trials: If you go and change the design. the factories will never do it in time...
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: I shan't change the design. I must just strengthen the casing and try a new ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in QI: History (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

The Dam Busters
March
by Eric Coates
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A Very British Kind of Movie.
23 July 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There is a fundamental difference between British and American war movies of the 1950's and 60's. Where as Hollywoods output tends to have gung-ho heroes gun in each hand, knife in the teeth, winning the war for Uncle Sam and getting the girl to boot, the British war movie tended towards a more factual almost documentary style. Almost as if British cinema was saying 'something of great importance has recently happened, so lets document the facts for future generations lest we forget.' Hence we have films like Dunkirk, Sink The Bismark, Battle of The River Plate and most famously of all The Damn Busters.

Coming back to this movie 54 years after it was made and over 60 since the events portrayed this movie can at time seam rather odd. The acting is stilted and dialogue clipped, but this is a stylistic thing rather than bad acting, after all the same style of acting can be witnessed in Ealling Comedies, the proto-hammer horror films and any number of 'The Blue Lamp' type police films. The bulk of the cinematography is also nothing special, being straightforward 'one' or 'two' shots with lighting that can be described as bog standard.

However this film really scores on two fronts. Firstly the use of real true to era aircraft (Leased from the RAF who still used Lancasters as trainers at the time) flown by genuine RAF bomber crews and filmed using the various lakes around Cumberland and West Yorkshire where the real 617 squadron trained for the real mission. And secondly it's dogged sticking to historical detail, or at least as much that could be adhered to without breaking the official secrets act!! There is no Pearl Harbour rewriting of history here. What you see is as near as damn it what really happened. Even now the a comparison of the attack as portrayed on film and the most recently published accounts of the raid as released by the British ministry of defence show very few factual flaws.

Also it must be born in mind that the early 1950's were not a pleasant time for the UK populous. The nation was still crippled by US war debt, many items were still rationed and the teething pains of the change that would lead to the welfare state and the cultural and economic boom of the 1960's were still cutting deep. So it is hardly surprising that a film showing a heroic and resourceful Britian would strike such a strong chord with its viewers.

I must be said some aspects of this film haven't aged well compared to some of the other Brit war flicks of the time ('Battle Of The River Plate' springs to mind), but as a historical document and comment on Britian in the immediate post war era it stands tall as one of the most important films of its time.


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