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
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 »
Unusual war story with a romantic slant, Sophia Loren as 'unglamorous' woman of convenience...
Jan de Hartog's novel "Stella" becomes interesting, erratic, uneven WWII battle story mixed with romantic melodrama. William Holden, an American sergeant with the Canadian Army (!), is transferred to England to captain a rescue-tugboat in U-boat-infested Atlantic waters; the job inadvertently comes with a flat and a resident girl (Sophia Loren, an Italian by way of Switzerland!). Carol Reed directs the shipboard battle sequences well, but there's too much intricate detail (bombs going off, waves rocking the ships, crews scrambling the decks) that one loses sight of the main characters. Holden has some wonderful moments early on--fearful of his new position, nervous about his first day on the job--and his gaining respect from his men is one of the highlights of the picture. Loren has much less to work with...and in much less time; every so often she has a frightening premonition, or she's cooking, cleaning, or getting out of the tub. The bit with the apartment key near the end (passing it along before a treacherous assignment) is pure balderdash, and even talented Holden can't make the final scenes work. Very nice cinematography from Oswald Morris, sumptuous scoring by Malcolm Arnold; yet, overall, the picture is a minor one. ** from ****
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