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The Cruel Sea

Jack Hawkins , Donald Sinden , Charles Frend    VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Nicholas Monsarrat's novel is an unflinching, realistic and emotionally involving account of naval life during the Second World War in which the "heroes" are the men, the "heroines" the ships and the "villain" is not so much the German U-Boats lurking below as "the cruel sea" itself. This 1953 film has become a classic of British cinema largely because it is a straightforward, no-frills adaptation of the book and retain's much of the original's compelling yet almost understated dramatic focus. On convoy duty in the North Atlantic, the crew of HMS Compass Rose face as a matter of routine the threat of destruction from U-Boats as well as a constant struggle against the elements. The convoys themselves are Britain's only lifeline and their loss would lead to certain defeat, but in the early years of the war the ships sent to protect them can do almost nothing to prevent the U-Boat attacks. Jack Hawkins gives one of his finest performances as Captain Ericson, the commander who has to balance destroying the enemy against saving the lives of the men under his care. In one unforgettable scene--a crucial turning point for all the characters--he must decide whether to depth charge a suspected submarine despite the presence of British sailors in the water. As with the book, the individual officers and their lives are carefully delineated, helped by the strength of a cast of (then) young actors (notably Donald Sinden and Denholm Elliot). Ultimately what makes The Cruel Sea such an undeniable classic is that it has neither the flag-waving jingoism nor the war-is-hell melodrama so common to most war movies: instead it relates in an almost matter-of-fact way the bitterness of the conflict at sea fought by ordinary men placed in the most extraordinary of circumstances. --Mark Walker

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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Authentic WWII Sea Salt Aug. 20 2004
Format:VHS Tape
If I were asked to recommend three great movies about any Allied or Axis army, navy and air force in World War II, they would be "The Desert Fox", "The Cruel Sea" and "Twelve O'Clock High". All three were made in black and white soon after the war, and all have the unmistakable realism of true accounts.
"The Cruel Sea", based on the famous Nicholas Monsarrat novel of the same title, lend its story beautifully to the stark contrasts and subtle mid-tones of black and white film (you don't get all those mid-tones of grey in color film). The story is grippingly personal, tragic and redeeming, gradually and painfully building the intense bond of camaraderie that seems to be particularly strong among navy people - probably because the sea can be the loneliest and most unforgiving place on earth (hence the title). Recalling the names Compass Rose and Saltash Castle, you'll taste the freezing brine of the North Atlantic, smell the mix of diesel fuel, blood and cordite, and hear the cries of your mates drowning in your wake. The real deal in black and white.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Like it was Oct. 16 2014
By Maurice A. Rhodes TOP 1000 REVIEWER
If your feet don't freeze and your heart chill from the ice then you can handle this. The story of the very brave sailors who manned the corvettes in WWII in the battle of the Atlantic. I was fortunate that I also got the real word from my brother, whose corvette was sunk in warmer waters. He was one of only 13 men who survived the sinking of the HMCS Louisburg in an aerial torpedo attack by an Italian torpedo bomber. The only thing he said was good about it was the water was warmer than the Northern Atlantic. When I watched this movie with him he twitched and had to leave the theater. So I guess it was pretty cose to a genuine account.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Classic Nov. 7 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you wanted an idea of what it was like to live through the Battle of the Atlantic, then you want to watch this movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great floc July 28 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A naval classic with a tremendous cast. So many of the older films are simply unavailable in normal retail outlets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 14 2014
Lest We Forget! A Classic movie.
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