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As the Second World War breaks out, German freighter captain Karl Ehrlich is about to leave Sydney, Australia with his vessel, the Ergenstrasse. Ehrlich, an anti-Nazi but proud German, hopes to outrun or out-maneuver the British warship pursuing him. Aboard his vessel is Elsa Keller, a woman Ehrlich has been ordered to return to Germany safely along with whatever secrets she carries. When Ehrlich's fiercely Nazi chief officer Kirchner commits an atrocity, the British pursuit becomes deadly. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Prior to the start of filming in Hawaii, John Wayne went scuba diving and developed an ear infection. As a result, he was in severe pain for much of shooting. Many of Wayne's scenes could be shot only on his "good" side, since the infected ear was so swollen, and between takes he had to go lie down to rest from the pain. See more »
The Ergenstrasse's pistols are Walther P-38s, which had only been adopted for military use the year before. It is unlikely that such weapons would be found on an old tramp steamer. See more »
No, John Wayne and his crew don't speak German, but what do you expect of a film from this era? In Ben-Hur the Romans speak with British accents and the Jews speak with American accents. The same line of reasoning applies here. The English have British accents and the Germans have American accents. Accept it and move on. Once one can get past the accent issue, this is really quite a good film. All of the credit in the world goes to John Wayne for making this film. Made in the mid-50's, just ten years after the end of World War II, I would imagine it was not very popular subject matter at the time. It is one of the few Hollywood films to try to show the Second World War from the German point of view. Karl Ehrlich (Wayne) is a man torn between his love for his country and his personal hatred for the ideals of Hitler. He is an officer of the old school Prussian monarchy still loyal to the Kaiser who does not like the new regime. As Jeff Napier (David Farrar) notices, he flies the swastika outside on his ship but still has the old imperial battle flag hanging in his cabin. He must decide whether to allow his ship to be taken or defy the entire British Navy and try to bring the Ergenstrasse back safely to the Fatherland. The flag he flies during the final battle is a telling sign of where his loyalty lies and (in my opinion) is Ehrlich's explanation for his actions. An interesting, intriguing, and thought-provoking war film.
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