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Cruel Sea [DVD]
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on 6 July 2015
I never bonded with my father(whilst he was alive, at least);he served in the Atlantic theatre, on a flower class corvette,and I remember, whilst watching this film on T.V in the 1960's, taking furtive nsidelong glances at him, while this film played out, for him this was very authentic,jaw clenching stuff! I came away from that film with a newfound respect for my father and his Navy peers!
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on 15 September 2015
When you start with Eric Ambler converting Nicholas Monserrat's fine book into a taut and understated screenplay and then add a cast that includes Jack Hawkins (was there ever a more persuasive screen presence?) plus Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliot, Stanley Baker, and Virginia McKenna, directed by Charles Frend, filmed at sea aboard a Royal Navy corvette for much of the footage -- well, with all this chemistry, you have a stunning portrayal of the British seamen who, though matter-of-fact in manner, heroically guarded the North Atlantic convoys from the U-boat threat as they crossed between Britain and Canada and the USA. Just how perilous that submarine threat was and what a close thing the battle proved to be is also told in Paul Kennedy's book "Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned The Tide in the Second World War," which makes a good companion to this movie. Monserrat's opening line sums up what the film captures: "This is a story of the Battle of the Atlantic, the story of an ocean, two ships, and a handful of men. The men are the heroes; the heroines are the ships. The only villain is the sea, the cruel sea, that man has made more cruel..." The Cruel Sea is one of the very best wartime service epics to be filmed. (Some may disagree, but it far surpasses the more famous 1942 "In Which We Serve" with Noel Coward's theatrically stiff-upper-lip, rather propagandistic portrayal of a Mountbattenesque destroyer captain -- wags of the day dubbed it "In Which We Sink", perhaps in reaction to its tone of restraint so self-conscious as to be, paradoxically, OTT). Black and white was just the right choice for "The Cruel Sea"; and the electronic version offers a good quality transfer. The extras on the DVD include interviews with Donald Sinden, a man of great charm. Sixty or more years on from its 1953 release, the movie has lost nothing and may have gained luster.
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on 30 December 2016
The film has been edited cutting some memorable scenes, i.e. the Russian port of call, an amusing discussion about hot drinks laced with rum... Why cut out various original scenes?
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on 14 August 2017
A superb film. My father was a captain on the North Atlantic convoys and he took me to see 'The Cruel Sea' when it first came out. He said it was a true reflection of what it was like. I watched it recently with my grandson and it is still a really entertaining, interesting and moving film to sea. My grandson enjoyed it also and kept asking lots of questions. A true classic. The fact that it is in black and white only made it better.
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on 4 February 2016
Another great dvd to watch. I love these ww2 films & this one is no exception. Jack Hawkins plays the troubled captain of the ship sent to defend the convoys in terrible conditions. This is very moving as we know it's based on true stories of just how cruel the sea can be. A very young, good looking Donald Sinden plays the captain's no 1 The dvd is excellent quality, i'm proud to own it, we should never forget what our brave young men went through.
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on 5 January 2015
Great story,cast and cinematics as we watch the horrors of the war unfold on the high seas. We see the raw recruits grow as they play cat and mouse with their unseen enemy, the German U-boats.
Death is ever present and the tensions and stresses are slowly, but beautifully built up. Jack Hawkins as the Captain and Donald Sinden as his second in command are the central characters, but we get gritty below decks drama amongst the crew,also.
Never patronising, unrealistic or jingoistic this film manages to portray the realities of these brave souls as they fight for their very survival. Their World shrinks to the physical boundaries of their ship and we become part of that as well.
An unflinching, great film that deserves to be seen by a wider audience toady.
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on 19 February 2013
What can I say about this film that hasn't already been said? It's reputation as a classic is well-deserved and anyone who wants to see a film that is close to how the Battle of the Atlantic must have been should definitely buy a copy. Indeed, it's almost like a dramatised documentary at times.

While some action scenes are a little dated with what are clearly model ships, they're realistic enough to suspend disbelief and this was filmed in 1953 after all. It's also obvious when real-life footage from the Second World War is employed, which I think adds a great deal to this film. The acting is utterly convincing with fine performances by Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden and Stanley Baker among others.

The short interview with Sir Donald Sinden was very interesting and amusing at times. I wondered how accurate his recollections were at time and whether he was embellishing the tale at times but it's well worth a look.

This is a great film, which provides a good history lesson as well as an exciting story. I can't recommend it enough.
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on 29 March 2018
Faithful to the book by Nicholas Monsarrat it displays courage, gallantry and sacrifice by the servicemen of the Royal Navy during WW2. Excitement from beginning to end and an insight into life ìn those times. À true icon of its era.
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on 5 May 2018
One of my favourite British WW2 movies. Excellent script and beautifully delivered perfomances from all the leadsd. Very good picture transfer to blu-ray, but the sound is poor, bordering on muffled in parts, compared to the DVD version. If you dont have hifi standard cinema surround sound you'll probably find it acceptable through a single/double speaker.
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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 September 2009
This war film is a cut above the rest. A story of a newly commissioned corvette (the Compass Rose) and the men assigned to her, this is almost a documentary rather than a fictional film. It is a totally gripping character study, showing how ordinary people adapt to extraordinary circumstances, and the effects the war had both on them, and their lives.

The film is carried largely by the exceptional performance of Jack Hawkins, the Captain who starts off as a generally decent chap, but is forced by the war to do unspeakable things (the men in the water during the submarine hunt is a particularly disturbing example) and becomes harder and haunted as the film progresses.

Plaudits must also go to Denholm Elliot as the sub Lieutenant, and Donald Sinden as the number one. Two newly commissioned officers with no sea experience and 5 weeks at naval college, they are forced to learn on the job and mature quickly. The change in all the characters is marked, and portrayed well.

It's not all about character study though, there are some tense and thrilling scenes, especially the night when the engines break, and the submarine hunts.

A truly great film, which shows the realities of war with a stiff British upper lip. Much better than overwrought American attempts at realism, such as Saving Private Ryan. A film which should be shown to school kids in history lessons, both educational and truly gripping to watch.
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