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


Michael Anderson


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





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 ... Committee Member
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


The British are desperate to shorten the length of World War II 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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Drama | History | War


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Did You Know?


An estimated 1,600 civilians - about 600 Germans and 1,000 mainly Soviet prisoners of war - died in the raid. See more »


When Barnes Wallis meets Summers and they decide to approach Bomber Command, outside the testing chamber is a Fiat 'Topolino' (the original version of the Fiat 500). This is very unlikely to have been imported to Britain before the War and certainly it would have been impossible during it, Italy being an enemy nation. Possibly it was chosen as an authentically 1930s style car that was readily obtainable in 1955. See more »


[Last lines]
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: [Morning after the raid] Is it true? All those fellows lost?
Gibson: Only two aircraft went down in the attacks. That was Hopgood's over the Moehne and Maudsley's at the Eder. Astell got it soon after crossing the coast. And Dinghy Young was shot down over the sea, on his way home. The rest we don't know about. They've been calling them since midnight, but they haven't answered. The flak was bad. Worse than I expected.
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.: [upset] Fifty-six men... If I'd known it was going to be like this, I'd ...
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Alternate Versions

Prints distributed in the United States by Warner Brothers added a shot from Desperate Journey showing an early model B-17 Flying Fortress crashlanding in a forest. See more »


Referenced in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) See more »


The Dam Busters
by Eric Coates
See more »

User Reviews

Stirring wartime movie stuff
2 May 2009 | by ady123See all my reviews

Entertaining and enjoyable stuff for those of us brought up surrounded by the people who went through WW1 and WW2. I feel I should mention that those people I knew who went through the realities of WW1 and WW2 actually never ever watched war movies, I always had to immediately switch the TV over whenever a war film came on, for both granddads, far too many bad memories.

For those who criticise the special effects, sweets were rationed until 1953, Britain of the early 1950s was struggling with post WW2 austerity. Rationing finally ended in 1954, a year before this film was made. In the early 1950s people were more concerned with things like Tuberculosis and polio, not special effects.

This film is stirring stuff, portraying an uphill battle and a race against time to complete an almost impossible task. I've watched Dambusters many times and find it hugely enjoyable, the music in particular, really pumps you up and sucks the viewer in, while the acting performances are all good, particularly Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

Gibsons dog ni99er is a bone of contention nowadays amongst those who are concerned with irrelevant minutiae, but that's because there's actually not very much else to worry about nowadays. This I feel would actually be hugely reassuring for those people who fought in the war.

What really struck me when I watched Dambusters recently was that the 19 planes on that mission were actually the only planes over the whole of Europe on that particular clear moonlit night. It was almost a suicide mission because those guys were up against the entire German night defence system, who were very very capable by 1943. Normal bombing operations were considered far too dangerous for that night and the film skips over this pretty smartly during the briefing.

All in all a fitting tribute to a group of very brave men.

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Release Date:

16 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Dambusters See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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