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...
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George P. Cosmatos
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
The tug used in the film was HMS Restive (HMT W 39), a Royal Navy Rescue Tug of the Assurance class. This class of tugs was built between 1940 and 1943. With a 1350 horsepower engine, these tugs could make 14 knots and were powerful enough to haul just about any capital ship back to port. Five (out of twenty-one built) were lost during the war. The ship numbers used in the film (W 83, W 86 and W 88) were not used by any ship of this class during the war. See more »
Later in the movie, when they show "the key" in William Holden's hand, the key is smooth, with no cuts. It wouldn't open any lock, anywhere. See more »
As a master (captain) of salvage tugs I can attest to the incredible reality of the shipboard scenes. I have seen no other film that rivals the scenes shot at sea for this film. I found the film riveting for both the action at sea, and the drama ashore.
The plot develops as the characters develop. Will the ship complete her mission? Will the captain return to the apartment? Will the characters overcome the obstacles before them, both emotionally and physically?
Trevor Howard is the perfect old salt, full of bravado, yet terrified.
William Holden, the optimistic American.
Sophia Loren played the role of Stella perfectly! She is the despondent, cynical, war shocked shell in whom we are drawn to share William Holden's hope.
I was mesmerized to the end.
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