Naval Warfare Movies

The Cruel Sea

Director: Charles Frend
Starring: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliott, Stanley Baker

Published: 1953
Country: UK
Length: 121 min.
Keywords: WWII, Feature

This is the VHS release (see more).


This feature tells the story of the officers of a British convoy escort ship as they battle U-boats and the merciless ocean. Seen from the viewpoint of the ship's captain, the film portrays one man's experience of the Atlantic convoy route from the beginning of the war to its end, illustrating how the Atlantic war's changing tempos and shifting balance of power affected the players and turned hunters into hunted. The turn of the tide in the Battle of the Atlantic is signified by the sinking of the corvette Compass Rose, which falls victim to a U-boat's well-placed torpedo. During the few months that elapse between the rescue of the captain and remainder of the crew from rafts floating in the icy waters, and their return to service on a new ship, technological and strategic developments arise which will eventually tip the scales against U-boat successes. Even so, the wartime sea is still deadly, and the captain in his new vessel is soon faced with a decision that could mean either the destruction of the enemy threat, or the ruin of his convoy.


This feature, which was filmed in a documentary style, received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. Based on the book by Nicholas Monsarrat. All sea action was shot in the studio tank at Ealing.

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