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The Sea Chase (1955)

Approved | | Action, Drama, War | 4 June 1955 (USA)
As World War II begins, German freighter captain Karl Ehrlich tries to get his ship back to Germany through a gauntlet of Allied warships.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elsa Keller
Commander Jeff Napier
Chief Officer Kirchner
Cadet Wesser
Cadet Walter Stemme (as Dick Davalos)
Chief Engineer Schmitt
Max Heinz
Lowell Gilmore ...
Captain Evans
Luis Van Rooten ...
Wentz (as Alan Hale)
Counsel General Hepke
Peter Whitney ...
Winkler (as Claude Akin)


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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


JOHN WAYNE - a skipper sworn never to be taken! LANA TURNER - the fuse of his floating time-bomb! See more »


Action | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 June 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der See-Fuchs  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(35 mm optical prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| (35 mm magnetic prints) (RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The part of the "H.M.S. Rockhampton" was portrayed by the real H.M.C.S. New Glascow (FFE-315), a Prestonian-class frigate. Commissioned as a River-class frigate in 1943 (as K320), she primarily performed Atlantic convoy escort duty during World War II, and was responsible for sinking a German U-boat off Northern Ireland in March, 1945. Decommissioned in November, 1945, she was subsequently upgraded to the Prestonian-class and recommissioned in 1954, serving with the Canadian Navy until 1967 when she was sold and scrapped in Japan. See more »


When David Farrar talks about Ehrlich's course options, he says they can rule out the vast Pacific to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east. Sailing from Sydney Australia, the Pacific would be to the East and the Indian Ocean to the West. See more »


Capt. Karl Ehrlich: What do you suggest that I do?
Counsel General Hepke: The Rockhampton is due in Valparaiso tomorrow. There's not a chance that you can leave.
Capt. Karl Ehrlich: I'll take my chances with the British. They won't waste a warship watching this harbor for long.
Counsel General Hepke: Very well, Captain. If you insist. Seamanship is your forte. But I beg to remind you, propaganda's mine. If I assist you, you must help me.
Capt. Karl Ehrlich: I won't lie for you.
Counsel General Hepke: Of course not! I wouldn't think of asking you to lie. You haven't had the necessary diplomatic training.
See more »


Referenced in The Streets of San Francisco: Pilot (1972) See more »


Steh'ich in finstrer Mitternacht
Written by Wilhelm Hauff
English Lyrics by John Farrow
Arranged by Ray Heindorf
See more »

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User Reviews

Vigorous as well as odd war drama set at the outbreak of WWII and with an unusual role by the ¨Duke¨ Wayne
21 September 2016 | by (Santander Spain) – See all my reviews

Exciting flick on the danger waters of the Pacific with Wayne as a seasoned Captain undertaking several adventures and risks . As the Second World War breaks out , -1939- German freighter captain Karl Ehrlich (John Wayne) is about to leave Sydney , Australia , with his his boat , the Ergenstrasse (it was portrayed by the real HMCS New Glascow , a Prestonian-class frigate) , as he is determined to steer his vessel back to Germany . But a suspicious beauty is aboard as the British Commander Jeff Napier's (David Farrar who narrates the tale by voice-in-off) girlfriend , she's called Elsa Keller (Lana Turner) . As Elsa , a mysterious woman , is on board , that's why Ehrlich has been ordered to return to Germany safely along with whatever secrets she carries . Then the brave skipper sails despite an English blockade , being pursued by British and German navies as he abandons Down Under . As Karl must smuggle throughout enemy Oceans plenty of warships and cruisers . When Ehrlich's fiercely Nazi chief officer Kirchner (Lyle Bettger) commits an atrocity , the British chase becomes deadly . As Ehrlich tries to get his ship back to Germany across the Pacific , Atlantic Oceans and through a gauntlet of Allied warships .

This enjoyable picture packs thrills , drama , action , sea pursuits , it results to be pretty entertaining and appear as supporting players a lot of prestigious actors ; however , being overlong . John Wayne's good vehicle , though miscast as an obstinate Prussian skipper . The plot is plain and simple , as World War II begins , at its violent outbreak , a renegade as well as stubborn German freighter captain named Karl Ehrlich escapes from Sidney and must transport a mysterious passenger and arrive in his destination , Germany . Interesting and stirring script from James Warner Bella , John Ford's regular screenwriter , and John Twist based on a novel written by Andrew Geer . This ¨Sea chase¨ or ¨La Cacería¨ bears certain resemblance with "Blood Alley¨ (55) by William A. Wellman , also with a skipper Wayne , along with Lauren Bacall , pursued and surrounded by enemy ships and attempting to escape . The Wayne-Turner combination ignite the sparks you'd expect . Nice acting by the great John Wayne , here he takes an unusual character as Ehrlich , an anti-Nazi but proud German who hopes to outrun or out-maneuver the British warship pursuing him . A German Wayne rivaled only by his infamous Genghis Khan in ¨The Conqueror¨ film directed by Dick Powell , for strange role selection . And aboard his ship is the gorgeous and elegant Lana Turner who sings a wonderful song accompanied by the seamen . However , star Lana Turner and filmmaker John Farrow did not get along well during production , she felt Farrow gave her no direction at all and that he was unpleasant with her and her co-stars . There is a colorful secondary cast that includes Lyle Bettger as second-in-command officer , David Farrar as the British Commander , Tab Hunter as a young cadet , the veteran Paul Fix , the ordinary Alan Hale Jr , Richard ¨Dick¨ Davalos , John Qualen as chief machinist and John Doucette . Furthermore , two notorious support actors : Claude Akins , -Claude' normally dark hair was bleached blond for this character- and Gunsmoke's James Arness ; Akins later appeared on ten episodes of "Gunsmoke". Evocative cinematography in Cinemascope and WarnerColor by William H. Clothier , John Ford's customary cameraman . And thrilling and moving musical score by Roy Webb.

The motion picture was well directed by John Farrow . At his beginning he wrote short stories and plays during his four-year career in the navy ; in fact John was injured while serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy in World War II . In the late 1920s Farrow came to Hollywood as a technical adviser for a film about Marines and stayed as a screenwriter , from ¨A Sailor's Sweetheart¨ (1927). He began directing in 1937 ¨Men in Exile¨ and ¨West of Shanghai¨ (1937). He married Tarzan's Jane , Maureen O'Sullivan , in 1936 and being Mia Farrow's father . John collaborated in the writing of several of his movies and shared the Academy Award for ¨Around the world in Eighty days¨ (56) . John was a good craftsman who directed all kinds of genres as Western : ¨Copper Canyon¨(50) , ¨Hondo¨ (53) with Wayne , ¨A bullet is waiting¨(54) ; Adventure : ¨Five come back¨(39) , ¨Two years before the mast¨(46) , ¨Botany Bay¨ (59) , ¨Back from eternity¨(56) ; Noir : ¨The Saint strikes back¨(39) , ¨The Criminal Court¨(46) , ¨The Big Clock¨(48) ; Crime drama : ¨Unholy wife¨(57) , ¨His kind of woman¨(51) , Historical : ¨John Paul Jones¨ (59) and Warfare : ¨Commandos strike at dawn¨(43) and this ¨Sea chase¨ (55) .

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