Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Cruel Sea (1953)

Director: Charles Frend

Writers: Nicholas Monsarrat, Eric Ambler

Composer: Alan Rawsthorne

Starring: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, John Stratton, Denholm Elliott, John Warner, Stanley Baker, Bruce Seton, Liam Redmond, Virginia McKenna, Moira Lister, June Thorburn, Megs Jenkins, Meredith Edwards, Glyn Houston, Alec McCowen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Monsarrat's brilliant best seller comes surging to life

Plot: At the start of World War II, Cmdr. Ericson is assigned to convoy escort HMS Compass Rose with inexperienced officers and men just out of training. The winter seas make life miserable enough, but the men must also harden themselves to rescuing survivors of U-Boat attacks, while seldom able to strike back. Traumatic events afloat and ashore create a warm bond between the skipper and his first officer.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I often appreciate British WWII pictures more than American/Hollywood ones for the shear reason that they're usually more thought-provoking or intimate or made from the pain of suffering through the war.  Hollywood films of this type often play the role of propaganda and have high action but with a strong message.  I like those films, too, but I also like to dig into a good British picture that brings with it top notch acting and, as in this case, some reflection without being bombarded with optimism.  I have no idea what I just said but it felt right.  The performances are great and they help carry this picture through the many scenarios.  Don't get too attached to them because most don't survive to the end credits.  Plot-wise this film is all over the place.  We don't just hang out with the fellas on the ship the whole time.  There are a lot of situations these guys find themselves in on and off the sea.  The big moment when Ericson (Hawkins) makes a decision that puts the lives of German U-Boat sailors on the line is a tough moment for him, his crew and the viewer.  The end has him testing his judgment again with satisfying results.  It's strange that after all these years of owning the British War Collection DVD set from Anchor Bay (with 5 very good films), I finally got around to watching the last of them.  It's time re-visit the rest that include THE SHIP THAT DIED OF SHAME, WENT THE DAY WELL? (LOVE this one), THE DAM BUSTERS and THE COLDITZ STORY.  I can't recall if there are any extras on those films but this one had nothing.  It was still a great buy for the films alone.

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