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In 1941, the British Admiralty is worried about the large number of Allied ships being destroyed in the Pacific Ocean by a mysterious enemy vessel. Initially, British Admiral Russell suspects that a German submarine is the culprit. However, the few revealed pieces of the mystery point to a German Navy surface warship.The British don't know it yet but the enemy ship in question is the German raider Atlantis commanded by Captain Rogge.His success in sneaking upon unsuspecting enemy vessels is due in large part on Atlantis' ability to disguise itself in a benign, non-combatant, neutral ship.To achieve this ruse, the Atlantis uses props, camouflage, paint, fake foreign flags and even theatrical costumes for its crew to make itself appear something it's not.When Atlantis is close to its prey, it reveals its true identity and opens fire sinking the duped victim. Finally realizing the truth, Admiral Russell decides to set traps in order to persuade Atlantis to reveal its position to a ...Written by
James Mason and Laurence Olivier were the two front runners for the role eventually played by Charles Laughton. See more »
Near the end, the recon aircraft overflying the ship is a Grumman S2 ASW aircraft. The S2 went into service in the US Navy in the early 1950s, and was retired from the US Navy in 1976. Major clues are the Magnetic Anomaly Detector probe protruding from the aircraft tail, the ESM pod behind the pilot's position, and the floodlight on the outboard on the leading edge of the starboard wing. See more »
"Under Ten Flags" may not be the most exciting war film ever made. It lacks the scope or star power of films like "The Guns of Navarone" or "The Eagle Has Landed". However, it more than makes up for it because unlike most war films, it's historically accurate--at least in all the major details. As a retired history teacher, I really, really appreciate that--as too many films play fast and loose with the facts. In this case, it's interesting enough that it didn't need a lot of embellishment.
The film is about a German ship that harassed British shipping in the Atlantic. It was able to do this so successfully because the ship appeared to be just another merchant ship. And, the title of the film is a comment about how the ship could quickly be changed to look like a boat from many different friendly nations. So, again and again, when British naval ships neared, the German craft changed appearances to make it seem quite innocuous. But, with torpedoes, guns and a crack crew, this was a very lethal ship. The problem for the British is that they needed to find it.
As for the captain of this German ship (played by Van Heflin), he was an interesting fellow. He was, foremost, a professional and not a Nazi party man. This made for many interesting moments in the film, as he tried to fight cleanly--in a manner that minimized deaths--especially to civilians. The contrast of this and some of his blood-thirsty Nazi crew was profound...and real.
Overall, a very interesting film because it was so unusual, thoughtful and well written. Well worth your time--especially if you want to see what WWII was really like.
By the way, being the history buff, I notice little details too--such as the striking blonde who is dressed and coiffed circa 1960--not WWII.
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