7.4/10
8,574
99 user 40 critic

The Dam Busters (1955)

Approved | | Drama, History, War | 16 July 1955 (USA)
Trailer
2:42 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

The story of how the British attacked German dams in WWII by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.

Director:

Michael Anderson

Writers:

Paul Brickhill (book), Guy Gibson (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead") (as Wing Comdr. Gibson) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

633 Squadron (1964)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An RAF squadron is assigned to knock out a German rocket fuel factory in Norway. The factory supplies fuel for the Nazi effort to launch rockets on England during D-Day.

Director: Walter Grauman
Stars: Cliff Robertson, George Chakiris, Maria Perschy
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Biopic of RAF Group Captain Douglas Bader who, after having lost both legs, flew a British fighter plane during WW2.

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kenneth More, Muriel Pavlow, Lyndon Brook
Dambusters (TV Movie 2003)
History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
Director: Gary Johnstone
Stars: Matthew Butler-Hart, Patric Deony, Sam Peter Jackson
The Cruel Sea (1953)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

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

Director: Charles Frend
Stars: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, John Stratton
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Allied prisoners of various nationalities pool their resources to plan numerous escapes from an "escape-proof" German POW camp housed in a Medieval castle.

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: John Mills, Eric Portman, Christopher Rhodes
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

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

Director: Lewis Gilbert
Stars: Kenneth More, Dana Wynter, Carl Möhner
Adventure | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

During WW2 in North Africa, a medical field unit must cross the desert in their ambulance in order to reach the British lines in Alexandria.

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: John Mills, Anthony Quayle, Sylvia Syms
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

In 1940, the British Royal Air Force fights a desperate battle to prevent the Luftwaffe from gaining air superiority over the English Channel as a prelude to a possible Axis invasion of the U.K.

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: Michael Caine, Trevor Howard, Harry Andrews
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

James Holland presents an analysis of the legendary 1943 Dam Busters raid.

Director: Aaron Young
Stars: James Holland, John Canmore, Daniel Godward
Action | War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During World War II, German ships are "safely" docked upriver at Bordeaux, but the British send a team of kayakers to attack them.

Director: José Ferrer
Stars: José Ferrer, Trevor Howard, Dora Bryan
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

As the Allied armies close in, the Germans decide to blow up the last Rhine bridge, trapping their own men on the wrong side. But will it happen?

Director: John Guillermin
Stars: George Segal, Robert Vaughn, Ben Gazzara
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The attack by British submarines on the German battleship "Tirpitz" in a Norwegian fjord during the Second World War.

Director: Ralph Thomas
Stars: John Mills, John Gregson, Donald Sinden
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Todd ... Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C.
Michael Redgrave ... Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
Ursula Jeans ... Mrs. Wallis
Basil Sydney ... Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris (now Marshal of the Royal Air Force) G.C.B., O.B.E., A.F.C.
Patrick Barr ... Captain Joseph (Mutt) Summers, C.B.E.
Ernest Clark ... Air Vice-Marshal The Hon. Ralph Cochrane (now Air Chief Marshal) G.B.E., K.C.B., A.F.C.
Derek Farr ... Group Captain J. N. H. Whitworth, D.S.O., D.F.C.
Charles Carson ... Doctor
Stanley Van Beers Stanley Van Beers ... Sir David Pye, C.B., F.R.S.
Colin Tapley ... Doctor W. H. Glanville, C.B., C.B.E.
Frederick Leister Frederick Leister ... Committee Member
Eric Messiter Eric Messiter ... Committee Member
Laidman Browne Laidman Browne ... Committee Member
Raymond Huntley ... Official, National Physical Laboratory
Hugh Manning Hugh Manning ... Official, Ministry of Aircraft Production
Edit

Storyline

The British are desperate to shorten the length of WW2 and propose a daring raid to smash Germany's industrial heart. At first the objective looks impossible until a British scientist invents an ingenious weapon capable of destroying the planned target. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The dramatic true-life story of the men who broke the Nazis' back! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dambusters See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film premiered 12 years to the day from the original raid. See more »

Goofs

After the first failure of the full size test bomb, Guy Gibson, Bob Hay and Barnes Wallis are saying goodbye to each other. Bob Hay's mouth moves but what he says to Barnes Wallis is not heard. (at around 25 mins) See more »

Quotes

Gibson: Well, the sixpenny bombsight works and the spotlamps work. We've flown two thousand hours, and dropped a good many more than two thousand practice bombs. The specially converted aircraft start arriving tomorrow. So, from now until the word "go" I want you to practice flying them at your all-up proper weights.
[indicates Young]
Gibson: You can work that out, Dinghy. Don't forget that some of the armour's been taken out. And don't exceed 63,000 pounds or otherwise we shan't get off.
[looks around]
Gibson: Any ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version released in the United States by Warner Bros. cuts aprox. 15 minutes, bringing the film's running time to 104 minutes. This version also changes the dog's name from 'Nigger' to 'Trigger,' but since the name is dubbed out, it's a very noticeable change. The uncut 119 minute version is available on DVD in the UK. See more »

Connections

Featured in Good Morning Britain: Episode dated 16 May 2018 (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

The Dam Busters
March
by Eric Coates
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

"I Might Almost Say Fantastic!"
13 February 2000 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

In the spring of 1942, the English design engineer, Barnes Wallis, is working on a revolutionary new bomb, capable of breaching Germany's hydro-electric dams. This film, with its unforgettable "Dam Busters March" by Eric Coates, recounts the story of the development of the bomb and the devising of special tactics for attacking Germany's industrial heartland. It is also a tribute to the genius of Wallis and the courage and skill of the men who made the concept work.

The great dams of western Germany, harnessing the energy of the rivers Moehne, Eder and Sorbe, were an important power source for the Nazi war effort. If the dams could be breached, then the loss of electrical energy and the collateral flooding would, it was hoped, cripple German industry and shorten the war.

As the film opens, Wallis is pondering the one central problem associated with bombing a dam. Any explosion in the water (and direct hits on the dam wall are too much to expect) is cushioned by the fluidity, and no structural damage results.

We see Wallis eagerly experimenting in his back yard, surrounded and assisted by his adoring children. His brilliant idea is this - if a bomb can be delivered at the correct shallow trajectory and the right high speed, it will 'skip' along the lake's surface like a pebble on a pond, strike the dam and slide down the wall. A depth-sensitive trigger could then detonate the bomb where it would do maximum damage.

The idea is a daring and imaginative one, and predictably enough, the various government departments are slow to see its merit. Wallis spends many disheartening hours waiting to speak to unsympathetic civil servants. In a lovely piece of ironic humour, a Whitehall mandarin points out to Wallis the difficulties inherent in obtaining a Wellington bomber for tests, and Wallis quietly suggests that his own role as the creator of the Wellington might be of some assistance.

Wallis is constantly being told that resources are scarce, that the communal effort requires sacrifices, and so forth. There is, he is told, "a very thin dividing line between inspiration and obsession". However, the eccentric genius persists, and eventually Churchill gets to hear of the idea. From that moment on, the project gathers momentum. 'Bomber' Harris, the chief of Britain's Bomber Command, sets up trials. The 'bouncing bomb' is at last a reality.

Major disappointments accompany the trials. The casing of the bomb has to be drastically re-designed, and it transpires that the aircraft will need to approach the dam considerably lower and faster than had been envisaged. The RAF's standard altimeters are useless at heights of 50 feet, and the resulting danger to crews of flying blind at almost zero altitude are unacceptable.

At this point, Commander Guy Gibson, the pilot who will lead the raid, has his own flash of inspiration. The spotlights in a variety theatre give him the idea of two converging light beams, shining downwards from aircraft to water, which will fix the plane's altitude precisely. If this all sounds a little 'Heath Robinson', it is nothing compared to the viewing gadget which is cobbled together to enable crews to align on the twin towers of the dam.

The climax of the film, the actual attack on the German dams, is rather a disappointment. Anti-aircraft tracer coming up from the German defenders is superimposed on the photographic matrix in the most amateurish of ways. The sound of the ground batteries is unrealistic, staying at a constant pitch and volume however the aircraft manoeuvre. The explosions are the poorest efforts of all, being no more than scraps of film and drawings, patched unconvincingly onto shots of a model dam.

Michael Redgrave does a commendable job of 'creating' Barnes Wallis for the screen, quintessentially English and understated, with his runner beans and his cricket jokes. The man's boyish enthusiasm comes across. In this respect the bathtub in the yard, the setting for his primitive experiments, serves two cinematic purposes, showing us the simple, unprepossessing genius of the English people, and explaining in visual terms exactly how the bomb will work.

Good use is made of genuine Air Ministry film of the bouncing bomb tests. If the ultimate effect on Germany's war capacity is exaggerated, this can be forgiven.

Richard Todd is terrific as Gibson, the tough little leader of the mission, the emotional man who is able through intense self-discipline to keep his feelings in check and do his duty. The powerful ending is almost too much to take, with the empty seats in the officers' mess, and Todd striding off in stiff-upper-lip fashion to 'write a few letters'. No English heart can fail to be stirred by that marvellous theme tune.


35 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 99 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Comedy Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular comedy titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed