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.
BACK-STORY: The movie is based on the best-seller by Nicholas Monsorrat. Monsorrat was a Lt. Commander in the Royal Navy in the North Atlantic so the novel was semi-autobiographical. The HMS Compass Rose was played by the HMS Coreopsis which was on loan to the Hellenic Navy and was due to be disposed of. The Royal Navy had already disposed of all its WWII era corvettes. Scenes were shot in the English Channel and the water tank at Denham Studios. The movie was the biggest hit of 1953 in Great Britain and a surprise hit in America.
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.