During World War II, tugboats conduct what are called salvage missions, picking up disabled ships. Not well equipped with weaponry, the tugs are sitting ducks for enemy fire. As such, the crew working the tugs have precarious lives, many with deep seated emotional problems. Before the Americans join the war, ex-American military man David Ross is assigned to captain a tug for the British military. He is shown the ropes by an old friend, Captain Chris Ford. Chris currently shares a flat with a young beautiful Italian-Swiss woman named Stella, who came with the flat and who lives a reclusive life there. Chris is the latest in a long line of tugboat Captains who have lived there, each who has found another person to take over the flat and the associated looking after of Stella if anything is to happen to him. That person is given a key to the flat, the key only to be used if needed. The first in the series was Phillip Westerby, to whom Stella was to be married before Phillip was killed. ...Written by
This is a curious film. A gritty, tough realistic movie during the action sequences at sea, but when the story shifts to land and Sophia Loren and the men her life, it's dull and lifeless.
Trevor Howard and Bill Holden are men numbers three and four in refugee Sophia Loren's life. The key is the key to her apartment which the guys make duplicates of and pass on to friends. Right after that's done, the giver is killed at sea.
Howard and Holden are tugboat captains assigned to tugs who go out to the open sea and pick up crippled freighters bringing needed war supplies to Great Britain during World War II and tow them in. The tugs are poorly armed and barely sea worthy and are easy marks for the
Germans. It's hard tough work and director Carol Reed does a superb job showing that. This is one of the least glamorized war movies I've ever seen. The men are fatalistic to say the least, but especially around Sophia as if the Nazis weren't enough to worry about.
Sophia Loren is a lovely thing of beauty and certainly a pleasure to watch, but her scenes with her two male co-stars have absolutely no spark at all.
If you watch this I recommend you fast forward the romance and get to the action.
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