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The Sea Chase (1955)

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

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Writers:

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

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Action | Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 June 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der See-Fuchs  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Valentine's Day (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
No Sparks between Luscious Lana and Stoic Duke on the High Seas
26 May 2006 | by (Alexandria, VA) – See all my reviews

John Wayne as the captain of a German ship during the early days of World War II? The same John Wayne who rode tall in the saddle, saved a doomed airliner, and led the Green Berets? All right, he does not support German policies, but, nevertheless, casting Wayne in the part of Captain Karl Ehrlich was a bizarre choice. The Duke does not even attempt a German accent, and he actually mispronounces the only German words that he utters, "Auf Wiedersehn." Perhaps the lure of starring opposite the luscious, if decidedly petite next to Wayne, Lana Turner was reason enough to ignore the mediocre script and listless direction by John Farrow.

Whatever Wayne's motives for appearing in "The Sea Chase," he plays John Wayne relatively well and outmaneuvers the pursuing British in the grand heroic style he pioneered. Of course, why the audience should be pulling for the Germans to escape the British during World War II is a moral dilemma with which to wrestle. However, somewhat akin to "Das Boot," only one dastardly German serves among the otherwise apolitical crew, and a Nazi flag only appears once and briefly.

As Ehrlich, Wayne sails from Sydney just after hostilities begin in Europe, and, with a British ship in pursuit, which is captained by an officer that Wayne managed to insult over a woman, the glowing Ms. Turner, Wayne maneuvers his ship through the South Pacific towards safety in Valparaiso. Just before leaving Sydney, the German counsel tells Captain Ehrlich that he will be carrying a passenger, a spy who also seeks refuge in Valparaiso. Of course, the increasingly stunning Lana Turner is the passenger, who has managed to escape Sydney with only one bag. And what a bag that must have been, because, throughout the voyage, she has endless changes from one glamorous costume to another. Her makeup is never less than perfect, and the hairspray alone to keep her immaculately coiffed must have weighed a ton. How she maintained the perfection of her platinum blonde hair without a dye specialist on board remains a mystery. Of course, "The Sea Chase" is pure Hollywood hokum, and such questions of logic should never be asked.

Unfortunately for the film and perhaps for Wayne, there appears to be little chemistry between the Duke and Turner. In the one kissing scene, Wayne seems to be biting Turner's jugular while holding his breath rather than exuding any passion. Turner does not turn up the heat either. In spite of her famous looks and figure, Lana exudes a chill towards most of the men in the film, although she tempts the sex-starved crew with tightly filled sweaters from her private deck. The decidedly non-Teutonic actors in the supposedly German crew include such familiar faces as James Arness, Tab Hunter, Claude Akins, Paul Fix, and Alan Hale, and each is decidedly superior to the lines they are forced to recite.

Although the film is a supposedly a chase, there is a shortage of action, and the film plods along with little suspense other than that provided by Turner's wardrobe changes. John Wayne fans likely will want to see "The Sea Chase," if only for the curiosity value. Others perhaps should steer clear unless it is a particularly rainy day with absolutely nothing else but reruns of "My Mother the Car" on the tube.


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