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Lifeboat (1944)

Not Rated | | Drama , War | 28 January 1944 (USA)
Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.


Alfred Hitchcock


John Steinbeck (by), Jo Swerling (screen play)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 wins. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Tallulah Bankhead ... Connie Porter
William Bendix ... Gus Smith
Walter Slezak ... Willi
Mary Anderson ... Alice MacKenzie
John Hodiak ... John Kovac
Henry Hull ... Charles J. Rittenhouse
Heather Angel ... Mrs. Higley
Hume Cronyn ... Stanley Garrett
Canada Lee ... Joe Spencer


In the Atlantic during World War II, a ship and a German U-boat are involved in a battle, and both are sunk. The survivors from the ship gather in one of the boats. They are from a variety of backgrounds: an international journalist, a rich businessman, the radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor, and an engineer with Communist tendencies. Trouble starts when they pull a man out of the water who turns out to be from the U-boat. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What happens when six men and three women are alone in an open boat ? See more »


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | German | French

Release Date:

28 January 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's Production of Lifeboat See more »


Box Office


$1,590,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


For the German-dubbed version, the challenge was to maintain the tension between the English-speaking majority in the boat vs. Willi and Connie Porter speaking German. This problem was "solved" having Willi pretend to be a Dutch volunteer with the Kriegsmarine, and shifting the Willi-Porter conversation to the Dutch language. See more »


After Gus awakes from his amputation, the nurse has both arms near her at first. Then, she is leaning over Gus with her right arm outstretched in the next shot. See more »


[first lines]
[indistinct shouting]
John Kovac: Ahoy there!
[climbs into boat]
John Kovac: Lady, you certainly don't look like somebody that's just been shipwrecked.
Connie Porter: Man, I certainly feel like it.
See more »


Referenced in Yonimo kimyô na monogatari - Eiga no tokubetsu hen (2000) See more »


Heidenroslein, Op.3, No.3, D 257
(1815) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Schubert
Poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Played on flute by Henry Hull and Sung in German by Walter Slezak
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Intelligent and engrossing picture about some shipwrecked survivors of a torpedoing
2 May 2015 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Lifeboat chronicles the trip of eight passengers after being sunk the ship they were traveling . As during WWII , several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it . They adrift on a lifeboat when they take on a German aboard .

This is a very good film , a highly theatrical experiment similarly to ¨The rope¨ ; dealing with several survivors in lonely lifeboat and it is based in part on a real shipwrecked . However , at film premiere was dumbly panned as an artistic flop by most critics , dismissed for a few embarrassing failures and flaws ; but is , nonetheless , today very well deemed . This sea-going ¨Grand Hotel¨ was filmed in a few takes to provide a seamless of movement but it remains nowadays what it was them a perfect film about shipwrecked survivors . Interesting screenplay , though partially claustrophobic , by Jo Swerling who adapted John Steinbeck's original story . The film was shot entirely on a restricted set in which the boat was secured in a large studio tank . Alfred Hitchcock , always striving for realism , insisted that the boat never remain stationary and that there always be an added touch of ocean mist and fog compounded of oil forced through dry ice . Remarkable performances from a great cast such as tunnel-voiced Tallulah Bankhead as spoiled reporter Constance 'Connie' Porter , the veteran Henry Hull , the beautiful Mary Anderson , a tough John Hodiak , Canada Lee who was allowed to write his own lines , the character actor Hume Cronyn , William Bendix who joined the cast a few days into shooting when the original actor as Gus -Murray Alper- fell sick and special mention for Walter Slezak as astute Nazi in growing suspicion of the other survivors about him . The cast suffered harsh conditions during the hard shooting : actors were soaked with water and oil . Seasickness hit the entire cast at various times during production , and many of them caught pneumonia after constant exposure to cold water which led to two cases of pneumonia for Tallulah Bankhead , an illness for actress Mary Anderson and two cracked ribs for actor Hume Cronyn who almost drowned in a storm scene when he got caught under a large metal water-activator according to his autobiography . Production was temporarily halted twice to allow for recovery of the cast . And look for Hitchcock's photography trademark on a newspaper that the survivors are reading .

Aside from the opening and closing scene , there is no score in this film , the only music is the flute . Evocative and atmospheric cinematography by Glen MacWilliams , though Arthur C. Miller was the initial director of photography but he was replaced after the first two weeks of filming, when Miller became ill . The motion picture was compellingly directed by the great maestro of suspense , Alfred Hitchcock ; only Hitch would face off the challenge of such a flick . Although the film did good business and succeed in New York as well as other big cities , it failed to attract audiences in smaller theatres and rural areas . As a result, it was a rare Alfred Hitchcock film that actually lost money at the box office . Remade as a Sci-Fi movie titled ¨Lifepod¨ (1981) by Bruce Bryant with Joe Penny , Kristine DeBell , Neil Ross , Carl Lumbly and ¨Lifepod¨ (1993) by Ron Silver with Robert Loggia , Jessica Tuck , Stan Shaw , Adam Storke , Kelli Williams and CCH Pounder .

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