Rare World War II Naval Film
Based upon the true story of H.M.S. Campbelltown
and the renowned raid on the Dock Gates at St. Nazaire
". . . this fine piece of craftsmanship is in the tradition of
`In Which We Serve'"
TV Times Film & Video Guide
TREVOR HOWARD and RICHARD ATTENBOROUGH star in this powerful story of a Royal Navy destroyer and her officers and crew during the early years of the Second World War. HMS Ballantrea is an ex U.S. Navy destroyer - one of fifty lent by the Americans in 1940 to a desperate Royal Navy fighting to keep the Atlantic sea-lanes open. The ship was old and desperately in need of a major refit, but is almost immediately pressed into service on convoy escort duty. Her new captain, Lt. Commander Fraser (Trevor Howard) struggles to keep her operational, while dealing with problems arising from his own, chequered past. The crew are mostly new recruits, raw, inexperienced and unused to navy discipline. Somehow, Fraser must shape them into a formidable fighting unit as they run the lethal gauntlet of U-Boats and German bombers . . .
Just as HMS Ballantrea seems to have overcome her problems, she is selected to play a vital role in one of the most daring commando raids of the entire war - a mission from which the ship is intended never to return . . .
With a fine supporting cast including Bernard Lee, Dora Bryan, Sid James, Sonny Tufts, Joan Rice and James Donald, GIFT HORSE offers an authentic and moving portrayal of life on board a Royal Navy ship during World War Two. It was made with the full cooperation of both the Admiralty and the St. Nazaire Society, and is broadly based upon dramatic, real life events.
DVD (Region 2) PAL ~ Certificate PG
Running Time Feature Approx. 95 minutes
©1952 British Lion/Romulus Films - All rights Reserved
Licensed by Granada Ventures Limited
Packaging and Distribution DD Home Entertainment ©2006
Catalogue Number: DD22838
MONOCHROME: Black & White
HALLIWELL'S REVIEW & RATING: ONE STAR
In 1940 an old U.S. destroyer is given to Britain and an officer reluctantly takes charge of it. Conventional, popular seafaring war adventure . . . Halliwell's - A fine and very unromantic telling of the famous story of derring-do, the Raid on the dock gates at St. Nazaire. The film deals well with the hope, aspirations and human frailties of the officers and other ranks manning this old lend-lease destroyer - well worth watching.
Plot Summary for
Gift Horse (1952)
The captain of an old destroyer in 1940 struggles with his crew as well as the Nazis
This is the story of one of the old moth-balled American fourstack destroyers, left-overs from WW I, which were turned over to the British in the early, desperate days of WW II, as part of the "Lend-Lease" program before American was in the war. The crew is saddled with an overage "gift horse", prone to mechanical tantrums and even complete engine failure in moments of high crisis. The story follows the exploits of the ship, officers and sailors from the time they take command of this "lemon" in Halifax until the last, heart-breaking night when they scuttle the ship in German-held French harbour. Episodic and understated. - Summary written by Les Adams
Never Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth, 30 July 2004
Viewer Comment by: Author: bkoganbing
This is the only film I know that dealt with Anglo-American destroyers for naval base leases trade that Roosevelt and Churchill made before America entered World War II. Monetary transactions were forbidden by the Neutrality Act so FDR came up with the idea to give up 50 aged American destroyers in turn for leases on naval bases the British had in the Western Hemisphere. This was the precursor of Lend Lease.
Trevor Howard plays the captain of a crew taking over one of these ships and remembers the ships are old. But as he said addressing his crew it was good to remember that old expression about never looking a gift horse in the mouth. He plays the part well in the best stiff upper lip tradition. Supporting Howard are James Donald, Richard Attenborough and over from America, Sonny Tufts.
Good easy to take war film about a little remembered historical event
and the old gift horse does meet a gallant end.
CAST & CREW INCLUDES
Trevor Howard as Lt. Cmdr Hugh Algernon Fraser - Richard Attenborough as Dripper Daniels - James Donald as Lt. Richard Jennings, No. 1 - Charles Lloyd Pack as Ship's Doctor - Bernard Lee as A. S. 'Stripey' Wood - Dora Bryan as Glad Flanagan - Meredith Edwards as Jones - Hugh Williams as Captain David G. Wilson, Division Commander - Robin Bailey as Lt. Michael Grant, Pilot - John Forrest as Appleby the Captain's Steward - Patric Doonan as Petty Officer Martin - Sid James as Ned Hardy, Owner Golden Bull - Tony Quinn as McConalog the Bartender - Peter Hobbes as Daniels - James Kenney as John A. Fraser, Hugh's Son - George Street as Court Member - Harold Ayer as Lt. Cmdr Carson - Sonny Tufts as Yank Flanagan - Peter Bathurst as Morgan, Ship's Engineer - Anthony Oliver as Works Manager - John Brooking as Crewman - Robert Moore as Crewman - Olaf Pooley as Crewman - Alan Rolfe as Crewman - Tim Turner as Crewman - David Oake as Crewman - John Clevedon as Crewman - William Russell as Crewman - Hugh Hastings as Crewman John Wynn - Joan Rice as June Mallory, WREN Cipher Clerk - James Carney as Bone - Michael Ashlin as Duncan - Harold Siddons as Adm. Bartlett - Ann Wheatley as WREN - Gwenda Wilson as Waitress - Cyril Conway - Lyn Evans - John Gabriel - Glyn Houston - Michael Mulcaster - Harry Towb - John Warren
~ et al . . . ~
Directed by Compton Bennett
Script by William Fairchild & Hugh Hastings adaptation by William Rose
from the story Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts
Director of Photography Harry Waxman - Music by Clifton Parker & Eric Rogers