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The Cruel Sea

7.42 h 6 min1953PG
Commander Ericson is made captain of the Corvette Compass Rose, a small escort vessel used to guide and protect convoys travelling through the Atlantic. Ericson must choose between destroying an enemy ship and sparing the lives of his own men.
Charles FrendAlec McCowen
Jack HawkinsDonald SindenJohn Stratton
None Available
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Leslie Norman
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4.7 out of 5 stars

1015 global ratings

  1. 80% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 3% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 0% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 1% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Robert H. ClintonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 12 September 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
I seldom write reviews but....
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I first read the book over 60 years ago and have re-read it several times since, but had never seen the film. I thought this film did justice to one of my favorite war-at-sea stories and followed the book closely. Some of the dialog came directly from the book. My own naval experience was in the US Navy, not the Royal Navy, but I judged the technical accuracy to be good. By today's standards, the special effects were a bit crude but they were effective in showing foul weather and torpedoed ships. There were several scenes inside attacking U-boats in which the dialog was in German. But even though I don't speak German and there were no sub-titles, I was able to follow the action. If you admire the book as much as I do but haven't seen the film, give it a go.
22 people found this helpful
Mr NewmanReviewed in the United Kingdom on 09 March 2019
4.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent war movie, realistic and understated.
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This movie is well worth watching. Filmed on a WW2 era corvette with accurate equipment and uniforms it gives a realistic impression of what it was like to serve on a small escort ship during WW2. Considering the subject matter some may find it surprisingly understated and restrained. However the lack of melodrama or overwrought emotion is a true reflection of the attitudes of the Royal Navy and much of the British population at the time. An interesting insight into a time when people had much harder lives than most of us do today but faced it all with courage and determination - and a lack of self pity that puts most of us nowadays to shame.
17 people found this helpful
James ConnellyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 September 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the very best WW II films: understated, a fine cast, a great screenplay from a fine book
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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.
21 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 December 2016
2.0 out of 5 stars
Heavy handed editing
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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?
13 people found this helpful
BernieMReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 April 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Great film, sad story...
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Four stars, just 4 for one of the greatest films depicting WW2? Yes, and it's sad. I first saw "The Cruel Sea" as a lad in the 1950s. When I saw it again, just recently, I was baffled: it had been butchered, the last 40 minutes or so had been mutilated, and I couldn't understand why. Then it started to come back to me. This wonderful movie had been the victim of a disaster. A fire had broken out - this was yonks ago - at Pinewood or Shepperton, or wherever it had been made - and reels of irreplaceable camera-original had gone up in flames. What we see now is a heroic attempt to sew the remainder back into a working film.

Sadly, it doesn't work. It was never going to. It isn't just continuity that's suffered. The ending doesn't hold together any more, and some of what's gone up in smoke is important. I'm not blaming the distribution company. What's gone is gone. But isn't there somewhere - anywhere - a 35mm release print of the original that could be electronically remastered so that this magnificent movie could be whole again? A lot of movie buffs would contribute, I'd like to think. I'd gladly be one of them.
One person found this helpful
Mark A. RobertsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 January 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finest Jack Hawkins
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My grandmother liked this film. But then my grandfather was a sailor, serving in the Atlantic convoys, so a bit of a family connection. It is enjoyable, there should be more films set aboard ships, there aren't many when you think about it. Well acted, and I enjoy the fact that romance is kept to a minimum, romance intrudes on far to many films that would be better without it. I call this one of my 'comfort films', that I often fall asleep to.
Paul CaseyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 05 May 2018
3.0 out of 5 stars
Great Picture Transfer, But Sound is Poor
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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.
One person found this helpful
cjcReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 August 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
He said it was a true reflection of what it was like. I watched it recently with my grandson and ...
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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.
6 people found this helpful
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