Released – August, 1953
Directed By – Charles Frend
Starring – Jack Hawkins (Ericson), Donald Sinden (Lockhart), John Stratton (Ferraby), Denholm Elliott (Morell), John Warner (Baker), Stanley Baker (Bennett), Virginia McKenna (Julie Hallam).
Description – Based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Monsarrat, this is an impressively accurate account of the British naval officers and seamen who served on escort ships during World War II.
After completing service in the British Merchant Navy, Lt. Commander George Ericson is called upon by the Royal Navy and given command of the HMS Compass Rose intended for convoy escort duties.
Led by mostly inexperienced and newly-commissioned officers the first threat they face is bad weather. Initially, German submarines lacked the ability to strike far into the Atlantic, but after the fall of French ports this all changes. With the advantage of new ports to strike from, the German U-boats can now reach convoys anywhere in the Atlantic.
Months of dangerous crossings of the Atlantic have taken its toll on the crew of the Compass Rose as has the emotional strain of having lost so many convoy ships along with their crew to the relentless German attacks.
Now, the seemingly inevitible happens; the Compass Rose is torpedoed. Most of the crew are lost. Among the survivors are Commander Ericson and First Lt. Lockhart. With the battle for the Atlantic still raging, the Commander and First Lieutenant are given a new ship to command and the vital, but hazardous escort duties must continue.
The Cruel Sea is a gripping adventure filmed in the style of a semi-documentary.
NOTABLE: The Cruel Sea received an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Screenplay.
The film remains true to the novel which were based on the author’s personal experience serving as an escort vessel officer during the war. However, some of Nicholas Monsarrant’s grimmist images were ommitted from the film.