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The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)

 -  Action | War | Drama  -  27 March 1956 (USA)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 914 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 3 critic

During WW2, German ships are "safely" docked upriver at Bordeaux, but the British send a team of kayakers to attack them.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Major Stringer (as Jose Ferrer in closing credits)
...
...
Myrtie
Victor Maddern ...
Sgt. Craig
...
Marine Clarke
David Lodge ...
Marine Ruddock
Peter Arne ...
Marine Stevens
...
Marine Lomas
Graham Stewart ...
Marine Booth
John Fabian ...
Marine Cooney
John Van Eyssen ...
Marine Bradley
Robert Desmond ...
Marine Todd
Walter Fitzgerald ...
Gestapo Comdt.
Karel Stepanek ...
Assistant Gestapo Officer
Beatrice Campbell ...
Mrs. Ruddock
Edit

Storyline

A Royal Marine Reserve Major must work with a veteran Captain and a group of incorrigible recruits to attempt what is generally regarded as a suicide mission: the covert destruction of an entire German shipyard in occupied France. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Ten Brave Men Started Out on the Most Desperate Adventure of the War!

Genres:

Action | War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

27 March 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cockle Shell Heroes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie's budget was considered expensive during the era in which it was produced. See more »

Goofs

When one Marine is on a bridge about to jump onto a train, he is wearing the German uniform used in the exercise. When he lands inside one of the carriages, he is suddenly wearing a brown jacket. See more »

Quotes

Captain Thompson: Your men give the impression of being an ill-disciplined rabble. And they'll never get to Bordeaux that way.
Major Stringer: Thompson, I'm training these men, not you. I'm the one who is responsible for the success or the failure of this project, so if you don't mind, we'll do it my way. It may not be the right way, or the Marine way, or the professional way, but it is my way and that's the way I want it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Prologue 2: At a critical stage of the war, fast Merchant ships operating from Bordeaux were seriously endangering the British blockade. For political reasons saturation bombing was rejected: the Navy was unable to penetrate the defences without air cover. The Royal Marines were given the job. PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND-MARCH, 1942 See more »

Connections

Featured in Breakfast: Episode dated 31 March 2011 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

A Life on the Ocean Wave
(uncredited)
Music by Henry Russell
Arranged by John Addison
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Cheers For The British Royal Marines
22 August 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The Fifties were Jose Ferrer's peak years as an actor and he was getting acclaim for all kinds of roles he was trying out. Ferrer has never been thought of as an action hero, but in a film in which he directed himself The Cockleshell Heroes, Ferrer is outstanding in a part that someone like Clint Eastwood would have been more identified with.

This was one impossible mission given to the Royal Marines. I'm sure rowing crew at Oxford would have gotten one a starring birth on this squad. The idea here is to demolish German ships in the port of Bordeaux and render the harbor useless. The problem is that Bordeaux ain't on the coast, it's up the Gironde River.

In an amphibious operation the idea is for a picked bunch of Royal Marines to row kayak like canoes up the river after having been landed by submarine at the coast under cover of darkness. The canoes are there to insure silence so that no unaccounted for motors are heard on the river. Then the Marines are to attach mines to the various ships and hopefully they will blow up and the Marines would escape inland with the help of the French Resistance.

Sounds absolutely impossible, but it really did happen. The film takes us through the training and the mission and most of the Marines are killed.

This was typical back in the day, get a known American star for a British production to insure international distribution. In Ferrer's case having one of the great speaking voices ever in film, he could be acceptably British for the audience.

Ferrer the director got some great performances out of Ferrer the actor and the rest of his cast, particularly Trevor Howard as his second in command and administrative officer. Howard was the best in the cast, a tough man with a deep secret, he failed under fire just as World War I was ending and has a black mark on him. He gets a second chance 25 years later in another war.

Also to be noted is David Lodge the young Royal Marine who goes AWOL to settle some trouble back home with an unfaithful wife in Beatrice Campbell.

The film bears some resemblance to The Dirty Dozen and The Devil's Brigade, American productions from the next decade. But these Royal Marines weren't misfits made into a fighting force. They were some of the best of that generation who went on a mission impossible knowing that they most likely would not come back.

And it's to them and the rest of the Royal Marines that this American dedicates this review to.


8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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