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4.2 out of 5 stars77
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 14 April 2005
A truly realistic wartime drama. Based upon a true story of men sent out in canoes, dropped at night from submarines, to sink enemy shipping by placing limpet mines on the ships hulls in enemy ports. A fascinating film that l watched as a boy when the film first came out over 40 years ago and it hasn't lost it's edge.Wonderfull acting, made when the 2nd world war was still fresh in the minds of the scriptwriters and directors.
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The film is based on real events that took place during WW2 in 1942.
This a superb WW2 'gem'
It tells the story of a small team of 'Royal Marines' who are volunteered
to perform a Top-Secret Mission.
After a process of illumination just eight resourceful marines are selected
to undergo intense training over a twelve month period.
'Major Stringer' and 'Sgt Craig' with the eight selected will proceed with
the mission when training has been completed.
'Captain Thompson'(Trevor Howard) who commands the unit has several
run-ins with 'Major Stringer'(Jos'e Ferrer) being old-school having his own
opinion on the training methods adopted by the Officer he has now having
to take orders from.
The dangerous and seemingly suicidal mission is to kayak seventy five miles
of heavily guarded territory with the aim of planting depth charges on Battle-
Ships in a German occupied French port.
The Battleships having caused havoc with supply-lines heading for Britain.
Things don't entirely go to plan, of the Ten only a few will again return home.
Many familiar faces from yester-year are among the cast-list including 'Anthony
Newley' 'Victor Maddern' 'David Lodge' and 'Christopher Lee'
'Trevor Howard' gives his familiar upper-lip performance.
Plenty of light hearted moments that will make you smile during the early stages
of the film, during training.
This is a Typical British-Made War-Drama depicting the true story of The Cockleshell
Heroes.
An oldie but Goody.
Decent picture and sound quality on the 1954 movie.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 December 2012
When you find out that the director of the film (Jose Ferrer, also the star) walked out on it part-way through, it probably says something about the film. Ferrer had the original script re-written, and left when the studio had the re-write revised, apparently because there weren't enough comic moments. Not every film can be a Great Escape, River Kwai, Cruel Sea, or even a Dam Busters. Nevertheless, whilst this is distinctly of the second-rate, that's in the old naval terms (which went down to sixth-rate). It's a perfectly enjoyable film, albeit one you'll probably only be inclined to pull off the shelf every few years, rather than more frequently.

One point very strongly in its favour is that it cleaves very close to reality. Without wanting to give much away about plot, a few examples should show how determined the script was to stick to the source; a feature few Hollywood directors appear to give a fig about. The one major dramatic liberty taken is the role of Trevor Howard. In Operation Frankton, on which the film is based, the second-in-command was a Lieutenant, not a Captain, but more to the point, he certainly doesn't join the mission in the fashion shown. However, this is still only a cosmetic change; it doesn't materially affect the plot. If the film ignores the 6th canoe entirely (damaged unloading from the submarine, the crew left behind on the sub), it would hardly have made for thrilling viewing. On the other hand, such minor points as who returns & who doesn't, and what happened to the 5 canoes is entirely true to life.

The cast is a solid enough one - any casual afficionado of films of the period will instantly recognise names & faces; Percy Herbert, David Lodge, Victor Maddern, never mind Trevor Howard & Jose Ferrer. The performances are all workmanlike; the result, a decent enough film, typical of its period, when the story mattered far more than the star names or the special effects. As I've suggested above, it's not a film I watch that often, but it's not one I regret buying either!
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on 22 August 2007
WOW, if you want to see the way the war was won, the skills and bravery, and sheer brilliance of the people who fought it, I'd highly recommend this film. There is also alot of humour in this film too.. as in real life you need humour to get through the horrors. I can't recommend this film highly enough.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 January 2013
The story told in this film was inspired by Operation "Frankton" (7-12 December 1942), an incredibly daring raid by Royal Marines against German blockade runners anchored in Bordeaux. Those ships were large and fast transports travelling (frequently under false flags) from France to Japan and back, carrying sophisticated industrial tools and optic and electronic equipments to the Japanese and bringing back supplies for Nazi war effort, mostly rubber, tin, tungstene, other very rare metals (precious even in limited amounts), as well as silk, quinine and opium.

Operation "Frankton" was a quite unique thing, as the Royal Marines were brought by a submarine to the mouth of Gironde estuary, then had to travel by canoes to Bordeaux and then attack German ships with limpet mines. Paddling up the Gironde would take four nights (commandos had to hide during the day), and therefore the whole operation lasted from 7 to 12 December. After the attack the Marines were to scuttle the canoes and travel by foot to meet with French Resistance agents, who would help them escape to neutral Spain.

In "Cockleshell Heroes" the story is however a little bit amended. Names of the Royal Marines were changed and their characters were completely rewritten to make this film more interesting - and in some parts also more amusing. The key elements of the real story were respected: the operation takes place in December 1942, the target are indeed German blockade-runners in Bordeaux and the final results of the raid are the same in the film as in the real story. There were however may elements added, especially during the raid itself, to make the story more dramatic.

The description of the selection of participants, their training and other preparations were also amended, but mostly by the inclusion of some of the real practices used to select and train British commandos and secret agents during World War II. Although there is no shortage of tragedy in this film (especially during the raid itself), some elements during the training are absolutely HILARIOUS!

Jose Ferrer, who also directed this film, is excellent as the commander of the raid, but it is Trevor Howard who steals the show, as a bitter, somehow aged Royal Marines captain who was promoted only once in his long career and spend the last 20 years affected only to administrative jobs... Christopher Lee plays a little role in this film, as the commander of the British submarine HMS "Tuna".

This film is not as good as "Dambusters" or "Above us the waves", but still I watched it with pleasure. Some comic elements included during the training can seem strange in a war movie, but I rather enjoyed them. The main reason for taking away one star is that this film lacks the tension and the nail-biting suspense which were so present in the two films mentioned earlier - and also because some elements added to the raid itself were a little bit exaggerated and poorly executed.

Still, it is a film worth watching for all war movies amateurs. Enjoy!
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on 22 July 2010
You have to remember its a film based on real events (its not a documentary), yes the real thing did happen but it was made in an era when "blitz" humour was still in the memory of those alive at the time.

No doubt if it was ever remade it would be American Rangers saving the day!

The theme to the film is still played by the Band of HR Royal Marines
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on 19 December 2009
A classic tale of bravery and currage the royal marines have shown throughout their history! An ausum long forgotten, must see film!
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on 15 May 2010
I really enjoyed this film, it follows the same kind of formula to be followed in The Dirty Dozen twelve years later. The formula is that you get soldiers, train them and then set them on a near impossible mission. Like The Dirty Dozen this film has some humour, which works well. The fact that it is a true story makes it even more interesting, I found it very easy to watch and the colour and sound quality are excellent. It works as a fine tribute to the very brave men of the Marine Commandoes who took part in Operation Frankton. If you are either a fan of war movies or interested in the actual raid then this is highly recommended.
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on 9 January 2008
An excellent picture account of one of the most daring commando raids of the second world war. Some minor uniform mistakes (German), but mostly a very watchable film.
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on 4 May 2016
This film does not do justice to the exploits of the brave men that prepared for and carried out this mission. It does at times exhibit the feeling of an Ealing comedy about it and the much too obtrusive musical score that overwhelms the film is very irritating. BBC Timewatch produced a very good documentary "The Most Courageous Raid of WWII" (with Paddy Ashdown) [...] which gives a much more accurate and realistic account of the events of this mission or read one of the many books on the mission which will reveal (far more than this film) in more depth and accuracy the daring nature of this mission. Overall, alas a disappointing effort I think.
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