7.6/10
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59 user 26 critic

The Cruel Sea (1953)

Approved | | Drama , War | 19 August 1953 (USA)
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2:16 | Trailer

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The World War II adventures of a British convoy escort ship and its officers.

Director:

Charles Frend

Writers:

Nicholas Monsarrat (by), Eric Ambler (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Hawkins ... Ericson
Donald Sinden ... Lockhart
John Stratton ... Ferraby
Denholm Elliott ... Morell
John Warner John Warner ... Baker
Stanley Baker ... Bennett
Bruce Seton ... Tallow
Liam Redmond ... Watts
Virginia McKenna ... Julie Hallam
Moira Lister ... Elaine Morell
June Thorburn ... Doris Ferraby
Megs Jenkins ... Tallow's Sister
Meredith Edwards ... Yeoman Wells
Glyn Houston ... Phillips
Alec McCowen ... Tonbridge
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Storyline

At the start of World War II, Cmdr. Ericson is assigned to convoy escort HMS Compass Rose with inexperienced officers and men just out of training. The winter seas make life miserable enough, but the men must also harden themselves to rescuing survivors of U-Boat attacks, while seldom able to strike back. Traumatic events afloat and ashore create a warm bond between the skipper and his first officer. Atmospheric sea footage. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Monsarrat's brilliant best seller comes surging to life

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Det grymma havet See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)| Mono (Gaumont Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The pendant number on HMS Saltash, F362, is the post-war number of HMS Portchester Castle, which was presumably the ship used for the filming. See more »

Goofs

Liam Redmond plays the part of "Chief Engineering Rating\\C.E.R. WATTS." However, on at least two separate occasions both the ship's Captain Ericson (Jack Hawkins) and later Coxswain Tallow (Bruce Seton - 11th Baronet of Abercorn) clearly call him WATSON. See more »

Quotes

Lockhart: Sir, reports from HQ say that there are five U-boats in this area.
Capt. Ericson: Five? It was good of them to tell us!
Lockhart: [Later that evening] Now they say there are nine U-boats operating around this area.
Capt. Ericson: Nine? Good grief, we must be very popular this evening!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Talking Pictures: Barry Norman (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chestnut Tree
or "The Spreading Chestnut Tree" (uncredited)
Author unknown, perhaps traditional song
Sung by the sailors in the raft to keep wake
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb for 1950's Brit movie
20 August 2004 | by swjgSee all my reviews

Post British World War II movies helped sustain the ailing British Film industry in the 1950's. There were some truly awful movies made - probably so those who were really there could turn to their girls and say - "you know it wasn't really like that".

The Cruel Sea is an exceptional exception. Firstly it is based on a superb book, secondly it is well cast with Jack Hawkins at the height of his powers playing Captain Ericsson and thirdly it is well abridged. Getting a 500 page novel into 121 mins means that there will be cuts - but they are well done and the narrative thread of the book is not lost. There is also very little "messing with the story" so prevalent in Hollywood.

The Royal Navy obviously thought the movie worth supporting and helped find a real Flower Class corvette. Of all 135 built - 22 had been sunk by the enemy, 13 lost in bad weather and the rest paid off after the war. "Compass Rose" sails across the screen - firing her weapons and throwing her depth charges (you want to see what REAL depth charges are like when they go off - watch this) in beautifully photographed black and white action sequences.

Suspend your historical accuracy regarding true ship detail however - throughout the movie the Flower is in her 1945 paid off configuration with a lantern style radar that wasn't introduced till half way through the war and the continuity switches from moderate weather to flat calm at the flick of a scene as needed when the ship is making turns. Still you want to see heavy weather - there is some real rough stuff with the corvette punching into it and some stock wartime footage very carefully grafted in to give the necessary verisimilitude.

But the real narrative is how the specks of humanity are treated by the war and the cruel sea and it is amply conveyed in the morning after a torpedo'ing. Count how many are INCREDIBLY lucky to be found alive in rafts and remember how many were on the ship that was sunk in the night. It's a grim ratio and a vivid portrayal of the real cost of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Young and upcoming Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliot and Virginia McKenna support this superb movie - it made Donald Sinden.

I hope there is a DVD coming because the photography is clearly good enough to be shown at a higher resolution but this should not stop you watching this now.


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