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The Cruel Sea is a (1953) British film from Ealing Studios. It is a strikingly accurate portrayal of the war between the British Navy and Germany's U-Boats from the viewpoint of the British naval officers and seamen who served in escort vessels during World War II, although the screenplay by Eric Ambler omitted some of Monsarrat's grimmest images. The action commences in the early months of World War II before the Battle of the Atlantic becomes the brutal struggle it would later be. Lieutenant Commander George Ericson (Jack Hawkins), after service in the Merchant Navy, is recalled to the Royal Navy and given command of HMS Compass Rose, a newly-built Flower Class corvette intended for convoy escort duties. As in the book, his officers are mostly newly-commissioned and without experience at sea. Despite these initial disadvantages, the ship's crew gains hard experience and becomes an effective fighting unit. The junior officers mature and the crew cross the Atlantic many times, escorting convoys, often in brutal weather, during the course of which they witness the sinking of many merchant vessels they are charged with protecting and the tragic deaths for the civilian crewmen. After close to three years of service, the Compass Rose is herself torpedoed and her men forced to abandon ship. Ericson survives this ordeal along with his executive officer, although most of the crew do not. Together with his now-promoted "number one", Lockhart (Donald Sinden), Ericson takes command of a new ship, HMS Saltash Castle, and they continue the monotonous, but vital duty of convoy escort. Late in the war, they sink one German submarine, Ericson's only confirmed "kill" after six years of fighting at sea. As the war ends, the ship is shown returning to port, as a guard to several German submarines that have surrendered. With the exhaustion brought on by so many years of almost endless seagoing struggle, Ericson concedes at the film's end that the only victor is the "Cruel Sea".

Starring ... Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliott, Virginia McKenna,
Stanley Baker, John Stratton

Director: Charles Frend
Producer: Leslie Norman


Year Released - March 1953

Length - 126 minutes

Music Composer: Alan Rawsthorne

Movie Distributed by General Film Distributors



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