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Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

Approved  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  11 February 1960 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,922 users  
Reviews: 59 user | 17 critic

The World War II story of the British Navy's effort to defeat Nazi Germany's most powerful warship.



(screen story and screenplay), (book) (as C. S. Forester)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Captain Shepard
Anne Davis
Carl Möhner ...
Captain Lindemann (as Carl Mohner)
Laurence Naismith ...
First Sea Lord
Geoffrey Keen ...
Karel Stepanek ...
Commander in Chief (King George V)
Maurice Denham ...
Commander Richards
Captain Banister
Captain (Prince of Wales)
Jack Watling ...
Signals Officer
Captain (King George V) (as Jack Gwillam)
Mark Dignam ...
Captain (Ark Royal)
Ernest Clark ...
Captain (Suffolk)
John Horsley ...
Captain (Sheffield)


Chronicles the breakout of the Bismarck during the early days of World War Two. Seen both from the point of view of the many naval vessels on both sides and from the central headquarters of the British where the search for the super battleship was controlled. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Personal! Powerful! Human! Heroic!


Action | Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

11 February 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sink the Bismarck  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|


(archive footage)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to special effects cinematographer L.B. Abbott, the miniatures were photographed with spherical (non-anamorphic) lenses. This made it easier to force the perspective of the image to make the miniatures appear bigger and further apart. The conversion of the spherical footage to CinemaScope required the use of an optical printer with an anamorphic lens. This method of shooting with spherical lenses, yet converting the footage to anamorphic, is now commonly used and is called Super 35. See more »


The battle of Iceland is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The Bismarck is in the movie fighting over her right side (starboard) and the British battleships over their left side (port). In reality the Bismarck came from the North and had to fight over her port side. The British battleships came from the east and fought over their starboard side. See more »


Edward R. Murrow: This is London, Ed Murrow reporting. This island, which is no stranger to bad tiding, received news today that HMS Hood largest warship in the British fleet and pride of the British navy, has been sunk by the German battleship Bismarck. From the Hood's compliment of 1500 men, there were three survivors.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: LONDON MAY 1941 See more »


Referenced in Irma la Douce (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Still the best depiction of the sinking of Bismarck, despite the flaws.
25 February 2011 | by (Norway now) – See all my reviews

I saw this as a kid when it first came out, and was thrilled by it. Aurora Models came out with a Bismarck kit soon thereafter, and of course Revell and Airfix came out with far better ones.

Overall, the film is excellent - especially the modelwork featuring the blowup of Hood.

Inaccuracies include documentary footage of British pom-pom antiaircraft guns supposedly firing from Bismarck - the American Bofors manned by actors in German helmets was far better and should have been used more.

The Swordfish going out on the recon mission from Ark Royal are carrying torpedoes, while the ones going out for the final aerial attack on Bismarck aren't - someone in the studio mistakenly switched the film sequences.

There is no camouflage painting on the models, although at the time the film was made, that information might have been hard to have.

Others have mentioned the very wrongful depiction of Lutjens as a die-hard Nazi. For dramatic effect, it had its purpose - "Never forget that you are German! Never forget that you are Nazis!" - but an historically accurate non-Nazi Lutjens and zealous Lindemann could have been even better.

As to the fact that not all Germans were Nazis, the decisive majority certainly were, and scenes like in Das Boot where the Germans were questioning why crewmen left on a tanker hadn't been rescued by the beleaguered Royal Navy are hard to tolerate.

As to the human interest angle of CAPT Shepard, his missing in action son, and WREN Davis, his early inquiry into her personal relationships seemed inconsistent and contrived, to say the least, right after his opening emphasis on being impersonal on duty.

(Unhappily, WREN Davis - the beautiful British actress Dana Wynter - just recently died on May 6th of this year, 2011. Basic to Dana Wynter's attractiveness - besides her dark-haired physical beauty - was the luminous intelligence and sensitivity reflecting in her eyes.)

Bismarck was one of the most dangerous battleships of its time - ranking with Yamato, Musashi, slow Rodney and Nelson, and the modern American 16" gun ships - but it had flaws. Typical of WW2 German warships, its tonnage/size was out of proportion to its armament. And armor was not as important as armament: once large caliber shells began hitting and exploding, any ship's fighting effectiveness plunged.

Washington or South Dakota would have sent Bismarck's sistership Tirpitz to the bottom quickly, had they ever had a chance to fight her.

It is my opinion that British gunnery was the best in the world throughout WW2. Renown was scoring early, decisive hits - even a conning tower hit - on Scharnhorst and Gneisenau off Norway in early 1940, which sent S&G fleeing. Heavy cruiser Dorsetshire scored an early conning tower hit on the final battle against Bismarck. Heavy cruiser Norfolk scored an early, decisive 8" hit on Scharnhorst's fire control off the North Cape, Christmas 1943, albeit at the same time getting hit (by 11" duds) in return. KGV-class Prince of Wales scored on Bismarck significantly, and KGV-class Duke of York scored the decisive power plant hit on Scharnhorst at the North Cape.

At the same time it should be mentioned that the 14" guns of those KGV class British battleships chronically malfunctioned throughout the war, although their fire control was so accurate that the fewer shells still scored sufficient significant hits in their battles.

By the way, I have an original 1940 Luftwaffe Allied warship recognition book which cites Hood's weakness - biggest ship in the Royal Navy or not - and somewhere I read that Admiral Holland wanted to position battleship Prince of Wales to be Bismarck's first target rather than battle cruiser Hood, but the encounter went otherwise.

Finally, I might mention that in late June 2011 Airfix is coming out with a 1:1200 Sink the Bismarck set of exquisite tabletop waterline models. Bismarck, Prinz Eugen, Ark Royal, Hood, Suffolk, and 2 of the Tribal class destroyers are included. And I myself am currently trying to design 1:1200 cardstock models of the other ships - Rodney, King George V, Prince of Wales, Norfolk, Dorsetshire, some Tribals, and the J/K/N class Polish destroyer Piorun - to complement the Airfix set, but it is very slow, hard work.

I've now got some of them up on one of my webpages, free to print off (in color even), assemble, and fight battles with.

The more we learn about the Second World War, the better our chances it will be the LAST world war.

Lou Coatney

A postscript:

Fifteen or so years ago, I was photocopying U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence plans to use in designing my cardstock model ships. I was in a large Midwest university library, and an English-born lady - the wife of an elderly chess-playing friend - saw me and was fascinated by what I was doing. I explained, and she said that before World War 2, she and her family went aboard and visited Royal Navy warships and what a wonderful time they had talking with the sailors.

And then she started to cry. Some of those ships - and I gathered one was Hood - had been destroyed and those boys had been killed. I tried to say something to console her, but nothing helped, and she left the library still crying.

I love studying and wargaming World War 2, its ships and other equipment, and such, but we NEVER want another world war ... and our own children and families to go through such horror and grief ... or others'.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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