During World War II, tug boats conduct what are called salvage missions - picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the... See full summary »
During World War II, tug boats conduct what are called salvage missions - picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the crew working the tugs have precarious lives, many with deep seated emotional problems. Before the Americans join the war, ex-American military man David Ross is assigned to captain a tug for the British military. He is shown the ropes by an old friend, Captain Chris Ford. Chris currently shares a flat with a young beautiful Italian-Swiss woman named Stella, who came with the flat and who lives a reclusive life there. Chris is the latest in a long line of tug boat captains who have lived there, each who has found another person to take over the flat and the associated looking after of Stella if anything is to happen to him. That person is given a key to the flat, the key only to be used if needed. The first in the series was Phillip Westerby, to who Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed... Written by
Sophia Loren shines in a rather somber role as a woman in England who obstinately attaches herself to British naval officers that are involved in some of the most dangerous assignments in the war. Their job is to try to rescue the crews and cargo of ships that have been destroyed by Nazi ships or submarines. Since the Nazis know exactly where the battle took place, they know where the rescue ships are going to be, so the death rate among the rescue teams is very high. The great Trevor Howard gives a wonderfully understated performance, and William Holden also holds his own very well. The film is rather slow, though I prefer to call it casually paced. The wartime atmosphere of southern England is illustrated with good detail, and the action sequences are well-choreographed and suspenseful. It's not a great film, but I prefer it to most of those 'stiff upper lip' wartime melodramas that England and Hollywood produced in the forties.
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