7.5/10
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62 user 27 critic

The Cruel Sea (1953)

Approved | | Drama, War | 19 August 1953 (USA)
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2:17 | Trailer
The World War II adventures of a British convoy escort ship and its officers.

Director:

Charles Frend

Writers:

Nicholas Monsarrat (by), Eric Ambler (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Hawkins ... Ericson
Donald Sinden ... Lockhart
John Stratton ... Ferraby
Denholm Elliott ... Morell
John Warner John Warner ... Baker
Stanley Baker ... Bennett
Bruce Seton ... Tallow
Liam Redmond ... Watts
Virginia McKenna ... Julie Hallam
Moira Lister ... Elaine Morell
June Thorburn ... Doris Ferraby
Megs Jenkins ... Tallow's Sister
Meredith Edwards ... Yeoman Wells
Glyn Houston ... Phillips
Alec McCowen ... Tonbridge
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Storyline

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. Atmospheric sea footage. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Surging to Life on the Screen! See more »

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 August 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Det grymma havet See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)| Mono (Gaumont Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, Lt Lockhart removes a tarpaulin to reveal the body of a sailor not out of his teens, awaiting burial at sea. This is a nod to the scene in the book when he was confronted with the bodies of several young Wrens (Women's Royal Navy) who die when the ship transporting them to Gibraltar is sunk. Update: The individual in this scene is revealed at 00:36:39 and is actually a female. See more »

Goofs

The ship used to represent HMS Compass Rose in the film is actually not a pre-1940 Flower-class corvette. Those corvettes had mast before the bridge. The modified Flower-class corvettes which were developed and ordered after 1940 were slightly larger, slightly better armed and the mast was moved behind the bridge. See more »

Quotes

Bennett: What sort of gun have we got?
Ferraby: Four inch.
Bennett: Four inch what? Breech-loading, quick-firing, mark IV, mark VI, fixed ammunition?
Ferraby: Four inch... I... I don't know.
Bennett: Find out! I'll ask you the next time I see you. Get to the dock office, and start mustering the confidential books!
LockhartFerraby: Yes sir!
Bennett: I'm the first lieutenant around here. And don't you forget it!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest War Films (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chestnut Tree
or "The Spreading Chestnut Tree" (uncredited)
Author unknown, perhaps traditional song
Sung by the sailors in the raft to keep awake
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Superb unsentimental rendering of North Atlantic Action in W.w.II
20 June 2002 | by trpdeanSee all my reviews

I first read this book when I was 14 (and had my father take it back from me when I had to ask "what's 'urinate' mean, dad?"). Monserrat is a master at the depiction of men at war - from his extraordinary technical knowledge to his ability to convey the fatigue, the cross feelings living in close quarters, the bitterness, the moments of triumph or relief.

This film does Monserrat justice. This movie is the opposite of the "boys' own adventure" sorts of movies. There are no striking heroics - just the very real feeling of people performing onerous often dangerous duties as well as they're able - which is heroic itself. The movie does not skimp on the danger either - the shocking losses of ships in convoys that the corvette "protects", the extreme difficulty of finding and sinking U-boats, almost gives one the feeling, "what's the point of convoys?" (Imagine all surgeons operating with an average 3% survival rate - well, 3% recovery is better than none - but imagine the wear on the surgeons).

The film is gritty, and just has the feel of the 1940s in its bones. The sounds, the movement, the look of cities and harbors, the clothes - it's as if one's uncles' tales have all come to life.

Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden are wonderful - almost always (and necessarily in wartime) stiff upper lip. The movie's moral dramas (bearing upon decisions the captain must make) are wonderfully conceived and executed.

This is truly a superb movie - a great credit to all who worked on it - a memorial to many. It's a completely different - and superior - genre to such movies as Pearl Harbor. I even prefer it to its natural rival, In Which We Serve - good though the latter is.


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