Tuesday, January 15, 2019

88. The Cruel Sea (1953)

SYNOPSIS:  “This is a story of the Battle of the Atlantic, the story of an ocean, two ships, and a handful of men. The men are the heroes; the heroines are the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea, that man has made more cruel...”  The first ship is the HMS Compass Rose, a corvette used for escort duty in the Battle of the Atlantic.  Its captain (Jack Hawkins) and crew are going to go through the realistic activities, frustrations, and hardships of convoy duty.

1.  The movie made a star out of Jack Hawkins.
2.  Hawkins saved Donald Sinden from drowning in the water tank in the sinking scene.
3.  Upon returning to port, the cinematic Compass Rose collided with the HMS Camperdown and did significant damage to it.
4.  The scene where Ericson breaks down as he thinks about the controversial depth charging was shot several times with varying amounts of tears.  The movie ended up using the first, weepiest take.

Belle and Blade  =  2.0
Brassey’s              =  4.0
Video Hound       =  N/A
War Movies         =  4.4
Military History  =  not on list
Channel 4             =  #41
Film Site                =  no
101 War Movies   =  yes

OPINION:  “The Cruel Sea” is a good movie. It is not rip-roaring, which makes it a realistic depiction of sometimes boring convoy duty. The sea does play a major role. The weather is the biggest problem the crews face. This is one of the wettest movies ever made. It is a good examination of command and command relationships. It is one of the most realistic naval combat movies ever made, which means it not all about the combat.  Its place at #88 seems about right.


  1. I found this book in the library of my Jr. High School in the mid 1970's and was completely absorbed by it. I think I read it 2 or 3 times in the 9th grade. Can you imagine ANY school library having a copy of this now?

    1. I think I read it from the high school library where I taught. It's the movie that is hard to find.

  2. Can you do a review of "Memphis Belle"?

  3. I consider "The Cruel Sea" the British equivalent to "Das Boot".


Please fell free to comment. I would love to hear what you think and will respond.