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The Cruel Sea [VHS] [1953]

Jack Hawkins , Donald Sinden , Charles Frend    Parental Guidance   VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Product details

  • Actors: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, John Stratton, Denholm Elliott, John Warner
  • Directors: Charles Frend
  • Writers: Eric Ambler, Nicholas Monsarrat
  • Producers: Leslie Norman, Michael Balcon
  • Language: English
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 4 Jun 2001
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CILW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,711 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description


Nicholas Monsarrat's novel is an unflinching, realistic and emotionally involving account of naval life during the Second World War in which the "heroes" are the men, the "heroines" the ships and the "villain" is not so much the German U-Boats lurking below as "the cruel sea" itself. This 1953 film has become a classic of British cinema largely because it is a straightforward, no-frills adaptation of the book and retain's much of the original's compelling yet almost understated dramatic focus. On convoy duty in the North Atlantic, the crew of HMS Compass Rose face as a matter of routine the threat of destruction from U-Boats as well as a constant struggle against the elements. The convoys themselves are Britain's only lifeline and their loss would lead to certain defeat, but in the early years of the war the ships sent to protect them can do almost nothing to prevent the U-Boat attacks. Jack Hawkins gives one of his finest performances as Captain Ericson, the commander who has to balance destroying the enemy against saving the lives of the men under his care. In one unforgettable scene--a crucial turning point for all the characters--he must decide whether to depth charge a suspected submarine despite the presence of British sailors in the water. As with the book, the individual officers and their lives are carefully delineated, helped by the strength of a cast of (then) young actors (notably Donald Sinden and Denholm Elliot). Ultimately what makes The Cruel Sea such an undeniable classic is that it has neither the flag-waving jingoism nor the war-is-hell melodrama so common to most war movies: instead it relates in an almost matter-of-fact way the bitterness of the conflict at sea fought by ordinary men placed in the most extraordinary of circumstances. --Mark Walker

Product Description

World War Two drama, based on the best-selling book by Nicholas Monsarrat, starring Jack Hawkins. Lt. Commander Ericson (Hawkins) has already lost one ship to an enemy attack when he is given command of the frigate Saltash Castle. A subsequent confrontation in the North Atlantic tests Ericson's leadership to the limit once again, as he risks sacrificing the lives of his crew for the greater good.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu-ray excellence 21 Oct 2011
The Cruel Sea [Blu-ray] [1953] I have owned this masterpiece in all its formats, from Monsarrats book to VHS to DVD and have just taken delivery of, and test-run, the Blu-Ray version. I always thought that DVD was going to be as good as it gets, but Blu-Ray has moved the high-bar even higher on this wonderful, un-glamorous story of life(and death)of British sailors and ships at sea in WW2. After watching this story, it is easier to envisage what life was like in those terrible times at sea and on land. The soundtrack hasn't changed from mono 2.0, but picture clarity is greatly enhanced, and is another one of those black and white movies which has managed the transition to HD very well as a result of its re-mastering. Worth every penny! And being region B, it is now available to most of the English speaking world. It also comes with a couple of extras, but I have not explored these yet.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I had been waiting forever for this film to be released on DVD and once it was, I was "in like Flynn" with my pre order. The Cruel Sea is as perfectly understated and as moving as you would expect from a great English film of the fifties. The performance of Jack Hawkins was mesmerising, Donald Sinden and Virginia McKenna had memorable debuts, Moira Lister was perfect as the unfaithful self centred wife, as was Stanley Baker as the first lieutenant with the chip on his shoulder.
The Cruel Sea manages to convey the dedication to duty, the uncertainty of life, the cynicism of planning for a future, the self doubts and insecurities of men making life deciding decisions and trying to keep their private lives in tact as well.
The "Compass Rose" was sent out to track and destroy enemy submarines and ships.She was a corvette,and played hide and seek herself sitting at the bottom of the sea as depth charges from above seek them out.
One of the Compass Roses officers cracks under the strain and has to be hospitalised,whilst another goes home on leave to find his spoiled wife
(played brilliantly by Moira Lister) is more concerned with her social life and her friends than she is of a husband home on leave.
The Cruel Sea is one the great British movies, certainly every bit as good as it's main rivals for the title, The Third Man,The English Patient,and Lawrence of Arabia.For me,it's the best of all British films,thanks largely to the performance of Jack Hawkins.Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cruel Sea on BluRay 9 July 2011
I first read the book more than fifty years ago and saw the movie in the cinema also many years ago.
The BluRay release is superbly done and very sharp and the sound is as the original in the cinema. Mono but clear.
A movie with a great story line and I really enjoyed watching the movie again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great naval war story 23 May 2009
Much more than the stereotypical war movie of the 50s, The Cruel Sea has tension, drama and an interesting examination of character. The cinematography is surprisingly good for the era: the sea itself has a strong visual impact. Jack Hawkins plays the role he always plays - the upright moral British officer but in this drama he shows more depth and nuance than usual. Overall, an engaging drama that holds the attention throughout as long as you're not expecting the hi tech special effects of today's movies.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
The Cruel Sea is, in my view, one of the best movies yet made dealing with naval men at war in WWII. It's the story of the Compass Rose, newly commissioned in 1940 as a convoy escort, and the officers and men who served on her. Her captain (Jack Hawkins) was fresh from the merchant marine; her new officers had seen almost no sea duty. They learned on the job as they protected convoys in the North Atlantic and then in the run to the Mediterranean.

What makes this movie so good is its matter-of-factness. There are no heroics, just men learning their jobs and doing their duty, with some who die and some who survive. The scene where Captain Ericson decides to use depth charges to destroy a suspected submarine hiding below a group of struggling survivors from a torpedoed freighter is harrowing. The DVD I saw has a good but by no means first-class image transfer.

The novel, The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat, is largely forgotten now. It remains one of the most evocative books to come out of WWII. The movie is well worth seeing. The book is certainly well worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best British War Film Ever! 31 Mar 2009
This is my favourite war film, without question. Brilliantly put together. Have watched it countless times and will watch it again and again. The characters are great, especially Jack Hawkins. This is a must for all British film fans, absolutley outstanding.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars v.good 20 Jan 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This is a fantastic, fluent adaptation of the classic post-war bestseller by Nicholas Monserrat. Achieving a superb balance between action and stomach-sickening suspense, it is a fitting tribute to, and education on, those who died at sea in WWII
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best war at sea film ever made. 6 Jun 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This film should be compulsory viewing for all would be film directors looking to make a war film. After watching the much hyped 'Saving Private Ryan' at the cinema my first thoughts on coming out into the light of day 'Not a patch on 'The Cruel Sea'. And it's true 'The Cruel Sea' is a materpiece of the story tellers art faithfully translated on to the big screen, the actors all put in excellent performances with Jack Hawkins managing to out shine everyone. I can't rate this film highly enough, it is an all time great and it deserves to be remembered as the materpiece it truely is.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cruel Sea
A truly magnificent movie. I have watched this film many times over the past 55 years and I never tire of watching it, and no doubt I shall be watching it still more in the future
Published 24 days ago by Derek Swann
5.0 out of 5 stars cruel sea
chose this film as it was recommended so pleased with it . was very good.watched it on a afternoon which was ideal.
Published 1 month ago by Susan Radov
5.0 out of 5 stars War at sea remembered
Chosen for my invalid sister, she loves it ,It is wiling away the time for her. She remembers the second war, you see.
Published 1 month ago by joyce myatt
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good number one
The very epitome of British war movies. Based on the experiences of the original book's author, this tale of men in jumpers at sea, and the loved ones they leave behind, is... Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. P. Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cruel Sea (DVD)
An excellent film. Realistic and with excellent cast. Portrays the war at sea as it surely was, with circumstances constantly changing and life and death decisions having to be... Read more
Published 1 month ago by planechant2
5.0 out of 5 stars A much loved film
The Cruel Sea is a classic. The sea-farers in the family cannot fault the tale, apart from one thing! In the Navy, they don't give the order, 'Attention' they say 'Ho'! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Ann E. Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cruel Sea DVD
:Purchased this for my husband who is an avid fan of films made in this era. Brilliant story and a riveting film - all of the cast are excellent. Very pleased with this purchase.
Published 3 months ago by A. Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars As expected!
It is a great film, which we knew we were going to enjoy and we did just that! A decent film to watch over Christmas!
Published 3 months ago by K.C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine period drama
You have seen this film if a period and slightly gung -ho apporoach to histort is your thing (it is mine) then youl love this Black and white film with ships of the correct vintafe
Published 3 months ago by mark @wigan
5.0 out of 5 stars It's the war, the whole bloody war!
Watching, recently, the blu ray of the Caine Mutiny put me in mind of this almost perfect war film and a comparison between the two. Read more
Published 5 months ago by still searching
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