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The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)

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


José Ferrer


Bryan Forbes (screenplay), Richard Maibaum (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
José Ferrer ... Major Geoffrey Stringer
Trevor Howard ... Captain Hugh Thompson
Dora Bryan ... Myrtle
Victor Maddern ... Marine Sgt. Craig
Anthony Newley ... Marine Clarke
David Lodge ... Marine Ruddock
Peter Arne ... Marine Corporal Stevens
Percy Herbert ... Marine Lomas
Graham Stewart Graham Stewart ... Marine Booth
John Fabian John Fabian ... Marine Cooney
John Van Eyssen John Van Eyssen ... Marine Bradley
Robert Desmond Robert Desmond ... Marine Todd
Walter Fitzgerald ... Gestapo Commandant
Karel Stepanek ... Assistant Gestapo Officer
Beatrice Campbell Beatrice Campbell ... Mrs. Ruddock


A Royal Marine Reserve Major must work with a veteran Captain and a group of incorrigible recruits to attempt what is generally regarded as a suicide mission: the covert destruction of an entire German shipyard in occupied France. Written by Anthony Hughes <husnock31@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Ten Brave Men Started Out on the Most Desperate Adventure of the War!


Action | War | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »





English | French | German

Release Date:

27 March 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cockle Shell Heroes See more »

Filming Locations:

Portugal See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warwick Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The closing epilogue states: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given to them in the making of the film by the Royal Marines and other branches of the Royal Navy." See more »


The German soldiers guarding the dockyard drive American jeeps. See more »


Captain Thompson: Keep the line straight, Boys.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue 1: The Marines were formed 28th. October, 1664. On 29th. April, 1802, His Majesty, King George III, directed that they should be styled THE ROYAL MARINES See more »


Featured in Idol on Parade (1959) See more »


The London I Love
Music by George Posford
Lyrics by Harold Purcell (uncredited)
Sung by Yana (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the Must See War Movies
9 October 2005 | by rudge49See all my reviews

This is one of my all time favorite war movies, first saw it in the 1950s. During what I call the "afterglow" of WWII we kids always played "Army" (any kid who didn't was probably considered a "pinko"), anyone who had served in WWII was 10 feet tall in our eyes. I grew up in an Anglophile family, so I was aware of Britain's war effort, and the fact that for nearly a year they carried the Allied war effort by themselves. Naturally when I reached adulthood and read the actual history I found this "Hollywierd" version hoked things up, unnecessarily in my opinion. The actual unit involved was called the RMBPD-Royal Marine Boom Patrol Detachment, that being a cover name of course. The actual commander was Major H.G. Hasler, nicknamed "Blondie" for his golden tresses (though at age 28, when the action occurs, he was prematurely bald.). Why Hispanic looking ( as he actually was ) Jose Ferrer was cast as Major Hasler-? Though Major Hasler served as a technical adviser to the film and he and Jose Ferrer hit it off, I have seen pictures of them together. The actual raid was called "Operation Frankton", Major Hasler had organized and trained his unit for such deep penetration raids both to inflict material damage on the Germans and to show them there were no safe havens for them. Why the names of the actual men were not used, I don't know, since only Hasler and his canoe mate Marine Sparks made it back to England, the others deserve to be memorialized. The scenes where the prospective members are required to land in German uniforms and then make their way back to the base is pure fiction, as is the Trevor Howard character of the embittered regular officer forced to play second fiddle to what the British call a "Territorial" (Reserve) or HO-Hostilities Only officer. Major Hasler was a career Royal Marine officer, had been on active duty since 1934 or so. I suppose a convention in WWII movies you have the hardened but Wise Old Regular and the Eager But Inexperienced Newcomer. Likewise the scene were one of the officers stand guard while one of the men beats up his cheating wife's paramour-another cliché.

That said, it is a great action movie, see it for that alone, then read the history, the movie will let you visualize the action better and appreciate the bravery of "Our Boys".

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