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The Dam Busters
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The Dam Busters (1955) More at IMDbPro »

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The Dam Busters -- True story of how the British attacked German dams in WW2 by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.

Overview

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Director:
Writers:
Paul Brickhill (book)
Guy Gibson (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead")
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Dam Busters on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 July 1955 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
The dramatic true-life story of the men who broke the Nazis' back! See more »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 3 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
"I Might Almost Say Fantastic!" See more (89 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Michael Redgrave ... Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
Ursula Jeans ... Mrs. Wallis
Charles Carson ... 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
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 ... Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris (now Marshal of the Royal Air Force) G.C.B., O.B.E., A.F.C.
Ernest Clark ... Air Vice-Marshal The Hon. Ralph Cochrane (now Air Chief Marshal) G.B.E., K.C.B., A.F.C.
Derek Farr ... Group Captain J. N. H. Whitworth, D.S.O., D.F.C.
Laurence Naismith ... Farmer
Harold Siddons ... Group Signals Officer
Frank Phillips ... B.B.C. Announcer

Richard Todd ... Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C.
Brewster Mason ... Flt / Lt. R. D. Trevor-Roper, D.F.C., D.F.M.
Tony Doonan ... Flt / Lt. R. E. G. Hutchison, D.F.C. (as Anthony Doonan)

Nigel Stock ... Flying / Off. F. M. Spafford, D.F.C., D.F.M.
Brian Nissen ... Flt / Lt. A. T. Taerum, D.F.C.

Robert Shaw ... Flt / Sgt. J. Pulford, D.F.M.
Peter Assinder ... Plt / Off. G. A. Deering, D.F.C.
Richard Leech ... Squadron Leader H. M. Young, D.F.C.

Richard Thorp ... Squadron Leader H. E. Maudslay, D.F.C.
John Fraser ... Flight Lieutenant J. V. Hopgood, D.F.C.
David Morrell ... Flight Lieutenant W. Astell, D.F.C.
Bill Kerr ... Flight Lieutenant H. B. Martin, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C. (now Wing Commander)

George Baker ... Flight Lieutenant D. J. H. Maltby, D.S.O., D.F.C.
Ronald Wilson ... Flight Lieutenant D. J. Shannon, D.S.O., D.F.C. (later Squadron Leader)
Denys Graham ... Flying Officer L. G. Knight, D.S.O.
Basil Appleby ... Flight Lieutenant R. C. Hay, D.F.C.
Tim Turner ... Flight Lieutenant J. F. Leggo, D.F.C.
Ewen Solon ... Flight Sergeant G. E. Powell
Harold Goodwin ... Wing Comdr. Gibson's Batman
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

John Breslin ... Crew member (uncredited)
Edward Cast ... Crew Member (uncredited)
Richard Coleman ... RAF Officer (uncredited)
Peter Diamond ... Tail Gunner (uncredited)
Gerald Harper ... Mocking RAF Officer (uncredited)
Arthur Howard ... RAF Pay Clerk In NAAFI (uncredited)
Lloyd Lamble ... Collins (uncredited)
Philip Latham ... Flight Sergeant (uncredited)

Patrick McGoohan ... Guard on Door (uncredited)
Jack McNaughton ... Waiter (uncredited)
Nina Parry ... Barnes Wallace's Daughter (uncredited)
Edwin Richfield ... RAF Officer (uncredited)
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Directed by
Michael Anderson 
 
Writing credits
Paul Brickhill (book)

Guy Gibson (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead") (as Wing Comdr. Gibson)

R.C. Sherriff (screenplay) (as R. C. Sherriff)

Original Music by
Leighton Lucas (music score)
 
Cinematography by
Erwin Hillier (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Richard Best 
 
Casting by
Robert Lennard 
G.B. Walker 
 
Art Direction by
Robert Jones 
 
Makeup Department
Hilda Fox .... hairdresser (as Hilda Winifred Fox)
Stuart Freeborn .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Robert Clark .... director in charge of production
Gordon Scott .... production manager
W.A. Whittaker .... production supervisor (as W. A. Whittaker)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
John Street .... assistant director
Frederic Goode .... assistant director: location (uncredited)
Jeremy Summers .... second assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Bill Beavis .... scenic artist (uncredited)
Peter Glazier .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Wallis Smith .... draughtsman (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Leslie Hammond .... sound recordist
Harold V. King .... recording director (as H. V. King)
Arthur Southgate .... dubbing editor
Eric Bayman .... boom operator (uncredited)
H. Blackmore .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Len Shilton .... dubbing crew (uncredited)
Hugh Strain .... assistant boom operator (uncredited)
Jim Whiting .... sound camera operator (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
George Blackwell .... special effects
Gilbert Taylor .... special effects photography
 
Visual Effects by
Ronnie Wass .... optical effects (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Erwin Hillier .... aerial photography
Norman Warwick .... camera operator
Steve Birtles .... electrician (uncredited)
Bob Penn .... still photographer (uncredited)
Kelvin Pike .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Kelvin Pike .... focus puller (uncredited)
Ronnie Pilgrim .... still photographer (uncredited)
Val Stewart .... camera operator: second unit (uncredited)
Brian West .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Tony White .... focus puller: second unit (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Philip Barnikel .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Joan Warwick .... assembly cutter (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Louis Levy .... musical director
 
Transportation Department
Eddie Frewin .... unit driver (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Thelma Orr .... continuity
J.N.H. Whitworth .... technical adviser (as Group Captain J. N. H. Whitworth D.S.O. D.F.C.)
Daphne Paice .... production secretary (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • A.V. Roe Ltd.  the producers wish to acknowledge also the valuable help received from (as Messrs. A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd.)
  • Air Ministry, The  the producers wish to acknowledge the extensive facilities accorded by (as the Air Ministry)
  • Associated British Studio Orchestra  music score performed by (as The Associated British Studio Orchestra)
  • IMS Film & Media Insurance  insurance
  • Members of 617 Squadron  they wish also to record their appreciation of the approval willingly given to the telling of this story by all those represented in it and by the next of kin of, who, from this or later operations, did not return (as the many members of 617 Squadron)
  • Members of the Royal Air Force  the producers wish to acknowledge the extensive facilities accorded by (as members of the Royal Air Force)
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
124 min | USA:105 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono | Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Certification:
Australia:PG | Australia:G (DVD rating) | Canada:14A (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 | Iceland:L | Norway:12 | UK:U | USA:Approved (PCA #17528)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The bombs shown in the movie were the wrong shape because the actual shape (a stubby cylinder) was still secret at the time.See more »
Goofs:
Errors in geography: The train showing being derailed by the flood is running on the left-hand track. British trains do run on the left, but German ones run on the right.See more »
Quotes:
Farmer:Every time one of these Lancasters fly over, my chickens lay premature eggs.See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
The Dam BustersSee more »

FAQ

How important was the raid?
How heavy were the RAF's casualties?
What happened to the characters afterwards?
See more »
32 out of 37 people found the following review useful.
"I Might Almost Say Fantastic!", 13 February 2000
Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England

In the spring of 1942, the English design engineer, Barnes Wallis, is working on a revolutionary new bomb, capable of breaching Germany's hydro-electric dams. This film, with its unforgettable "Dam Busters March" by Eric Coates, recounts the story of the development of the bomb and the devising of special tactics for attacking Germany's industrial heartland. It is also a tribute to the genius of Wallis and the courage and skill of the men who made the concept work.

The great dams of western Germany, harnessing the energy of the rivers Moehne, Eder and Sorbe, were an important power source for the Nazi war effort. If the dams could be breached, then the loss of electrical energy and the collateral flooding would, it was hoped, cripple German industry and shorten the war.

As the film opens, Wallis is pondering the one central problem associated with bombing a dam. Any explosion in the water (and direct hits on the dam wall are too much to expect) is cushioned by the fluidity, and no structural damage results.

We see Wallis eagerly experimenting in his back yard, surrounded and assisted by his adoring children. His brilliant idea is this - if a bomb can be delivered at the correct shallow trajectory and the right high speed, it will 'skip' along the lake's surface like a pebble on a pond, strike the dam and slide down the wall. A depth-sensitive trigger could then detonate the bomb where it would do maximum damage.

The idea is a daring and imaginative one, and predictably enough, the various government departments are slow to see its merit. Wallis spends many disheartening hours waiting to speak to unsympathetic civil servants. In a lovely piece of ironic humour, a Whitehall mandarin points out to Wallis the difficulties inherent in obtaining a Wellington bomber for tests, and Wallis quietly suggests that his own role as the creator of the Wellington might be of some assistance.

Wallis is constantly being told that resources are scarce, that the communal effort requires sacrifices, and so forth. There is, he is told, "a very thin dividing line between inspiration and obsession". However, the eccentric genius persists, and eventually Churchill gets to hear of the idea. From that moment on, the project gathers momentum. 'Bomber' Harris, the chief of Britain's Bomber Command, sets up trials. The 'bouncing bomb' is at last a reality.

Major disappointments accompany the trials. The casing of the bomb has to be drastically re-designed, and it transpires that the aircraft will need to approach the dam considerably lower and faster than had been envisaged. The RAF's standard altimeters are useless at heights of 50 feet, and the resulting danger to crews of flying blind at almost zero altitude are unacceptable.

At this point, Commander Guy Gibson, the pilot who will lead the raid, has his own flash of inspiration. The spotlights in a variety theatre give him the idea of two converging light beams, shining downwards from aircraft to water, which will fix the plane's altitude precisely. If this all sounds a little 'Heath Robinson', it is nothing compared to the viewing gadget which is cobbled together to enable crews to align on the twin towers of the dam.

The climax of the film, the actual attack on the German dams, is rather a disappointment. Anti-aircraft tracer coming up from the German defenders is superimposed on the photographic matrix in the most amateurish of ways. The sound of the ground batteries is unrealistic, staying at a constant pitch and volume however the aircraft manoeuvre. The explosions are the poorest efforts of all, being no more than scraps of film and drawings, patched unconvincingly onto shots of a model dam.

Michael Redgrave does a commendable job of 'creating' Barnes Wallis for the screen, quintessentially English and understated, with his runner beans and his cricket jokes. The man's boyish enthusiasm comes across. In this respect the bathtub in the yard, the setting for his primitive experiments, serves two cinematic purposes, showing us the simple, unprepossessing genius of the English people, and explaining in visual terms exactly how the bomb will work.

Good use is made of genuine Air Ministry film of the bouncing bomb tests. If the ultimate effect on Germany's war capacity is exaggerated, this can be forgiven.

Richard Todd is terrific as Gibson, the tough little leader of the mission, the emotional man who is able through intense self-discipline to keep his feelings in check and do his duty. The powerful ending is almost too much to take, with the empty seats in the officers' mess, and Todd striding off in stiff-upper-lip fashion to 'write a few letters'. No English heart can fail to be stirred by that marvellous theme tune.

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