Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Cruel Sea, The Battleships
Year: 1953
Director: Charles Frend
Stars: 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, Fred Griffiths, Sam Kydd
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: The oceans of the world have always been dangerous places even for the most experienced of sailors, but what happened during World War II when the Allies were trying to get their convoys across the Atlantic while the Nazi U-boats were lurking beneath the waves? That was what Commander Ericson (Jack Hawkins) had to contemplate as he took a Royal Navy corvette out to protect the ships helping the war efforts against the Germans. Today he welcomed two new recruits, drafted from civilian life, but he would find actual battle experience was thin on the ground with his crew...

The Cruel Sea was a bestselling novel by Nicholas Monsarrat before it was a film, but with the British movie industry of the fifties finding war pictures were big business, it was a natural to bring to the screen, and Ealing were the studio picked to do so. They may be better known for their comedies now, but in their heyday they produced just as many dramas and many of those were successes, with this one of the most lucrative of their output, not to mention one of the most respected. This was undoubtedly down to the filmmakers' own respect for the story they were telling, which showed through in every frame.

There may have been the odd lighter moment here, but for most of the time it was a serious business they were portraying and that was what informed the tone. The two new recruits were Lockhart (Donald Sinden in a star-making role) and Theraby (John Stratton), and though Ericson makes it clear they have a lot to learn, he is pleased to have them aboard which is more than could be said for Stanley Baker's Bennett, their superior and Ericson's Number One who is a hard taskmaster and much hated by his men. He actually exits the tale after about half an hour, thanks to being so unpopular it backfires on him, leading Lockhart to replace him in his post.

Thus the Compass Rose, the ship most of the film takes place on, sets out to escort supply ships and with more hope than accuracy sink a few U-boats into the bargain. This proves easier said than done as the Nazis are darned elusive, but manage to put holes in too many of the Allied craft, and Ericson's vessel's first voyage is something of a disaster. Not least because he has to chase after one of the submarines in a desperate attempt to stop it destroying more ships and in one of the most famous sequences, runs over and blows up a number of British sailors floating in the sea, leading him to be accused of murder by his unimpressed crew.

As Ericson, you could not have hoped for a better actor than Hawkins, as he was born to play firm but fair military men and The Cruel Sea was rightly proclaimed as one of his finest performances as he balanced the no-nonsense attitude with a kindliness that hardens into a bitter need to win against the odds. As the trauma of what he is living through starts to get to him, Hawkins has stellar moments as he conveys the feelings of a man who would far rather have avoided all this slaughter, but acknowledges that he must do as much as he can to stop it, even to the point of putting his own life on the line. He was ably backed up with a cast who knew what was expected of them, and Sinden's Lockhart works out to be the kind of rock that Ericson needs in those uncertain times, in spite of his own unsteady moments. The realisation that what had begun as a noble exercise had dwindled into kill as many of them before they kill you is keenly felt, and if variety of incident is not the plot's strong point, its intelligent realism was to its benefit. Music by Alan Rawsthorne.

[Optimum's Blu-ray is the best the film has ever looked for home viewing, clear and crisp with only a few speckles and scratches considering its age. As extras there are an interview with Sinden, a trailer and a behind the scenes gallery.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4108 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: