The Cruel Sea


War films

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Time Out says

A sterling, old-fashioned war film of the type too readily devalued these days. Jack Hawkins gives perhaps his most notable performance as the captain of a Royal Navy corvette, suggesting as much life above as below that stiff upper lip, while Eric Ambler's adaptation of Nicholas Monsarrat's book gives the minnows their due as the enlisted men face storms and German U-boats with more courage than experience. Best of all, Frend's documentary style puts us smack in the middle of the Atlantic - the cruel sea indeed.


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Release details

UK release:



126 mins

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It is easy to forget there once was a time when Britain made films of eloquence and understaed grandeur such as The Cruel Sea. Following the exploits of the North Atlantic convoys during the U boat emergency of the second world war, Jack Hawkins gives a rugged yet moving performance as the tortured skipper who has to make a split second decision whether to rescue survivors in the water or atttack the presumed U boat underneath them. His portrait of tortured intelligence has hardly ever been bettered, and he is given terrific support from genial Number 2 played by Donald Sinden. It's an old fashioned, unshowy film about courage, endurance, fortitude and comradeship, all played out against the Atlantic itself. A beautiful, enduring classic.


No jingoism, no "war is hell", just as near to how it was as is possible. If you think you are having a bad day, watch the film or read the book.....