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British War Collection (The Cruel Sea/The Ship That Died of Shame/Went the Day Well?/The Dam Busters/The Colditz Story)

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Mar 22, 2005)
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$190.99 $75.99
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Editorial Reviews

Experience all the explosive drama of a nation at war by land, sea and air. The five classic films in this collection – starring such screen legends as Michael Redgrave, Richard Attenborough, John Mills, Jack Hawkins, Stanley Baker, Robert Shaw and more – are now presented uncut and fully restored, depicting the men and women of Great Britain at their most compassionate and courageous. These are British war movies’ finest hours.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, John Mills, Eric Portman, Christopher Rhodes
  • Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, Michael Anderson
  • Writers: Basil Dearden, Angus MacPhail, Diana Morgan
  • Format: Box set, Black & White, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French, German
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: March 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 535 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00076YPBM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,948 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "British War Collection (The Cruel Sea/The Ship That Died of Shame/Went the Day Well?/The Dam Busters/The Colditz Story)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As someone who was born in Britain and spent his childhood there in the fifties, I remember being taken by my parents to see several of these films when they were released, particularly "The Dam Busters" and "The Colditz Story". So I do appreciate this collection of British World War II films by Anchor Bay, and the memories that came flooding back.

All five films are a crisp black and white, full-screen, mono sound, but--apart from a nice booklet--the DVDs have no extras. As of this writing, Richard (now Lord)Attenborough, Sir Donald Sinden and Richard Todd are still "with us", so their comments would have been fascinating. Some extras--comments on these films and the British war film genre in general--would have been a "nice touch", to say the least.

"The Cruel Sea"--quite simply one of the finest and most realistic films about naval warfare ever made. As the captain of a corvette assigned to protect supply convoys from German U-boats, Jack Hawkins gives one of his best performances--you will not forget the scene where he must decide the fate of some stranded sailors--this is real war, where good people must make heart-breaking decisions. Mr. Hawkins receives fine support from Donald Sinden and Denholm Elliott. A real classic.

"The Dam Busters"--that superb actor, Michael Redgrave, stars as British scientist/engineer/inventor Barnes Wallis, who fought an uphill battle with the British military (and far too much "red tape")with his innovative plan to destroy dams in Germany's Ruhr Valley, and cripple Hitler's industry. After various setbacks, he proves that his "bouncing" bomb does indeed work.
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Format: DVD
Went the Day Well? (1942) is probably the least known of the movies in this collection. It is one of the British war movies made during WWII that were meant to strengthen morale and inspire steadfastness.

The little English village of Bromley End welcomes a large number of Royal Engineers who are to work on a secret project. However, the Royal Engineers in reality are English-speaking German soldiers in British uniforms, parachuted into England to set up a counter radar apparatus which will disrupt England's radar network. Gradually the villagers begin to suspect things aren't right, and then realize what they're dealing with. The Germans cordon off the village, show their true colors and prepare to set up their equipment. The villagers need to break through the cordon to alert authorities and get help. They also decide they must take action themselves to stop the Germans. This is complicated because the village houses a traitor. The climax is the Battle of Bromley End, with British Home Guard troops arriving while the Germans, attacking the manor house where they must set up their stuff, are held off by the men and women of the village.

If you're fond of older British movies you'll recognize some fine actors: Leslie Banks, David Farrar, Thora Hird, Basil Sydney, Mervyn Johns. The film is a well-constructed piece of stirring, patriotic wartime propaganda. The DVD I've seen has a good transfer, especially considering the age of the film.
The Colditz Story (1955) was one of a number of movies the British made during the Fifties which relived the victories and bravery of their armed services during WWII. Often these movies starred John Mills. The Colditz Story is based on fact.
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Format: DVD
As other reviewers have noted, these are excellent movies, worthy to be savored by fans of WWII films or British cinema. Four are genuine classics, and The Dam Busters and The Cruel Sea are masterpieces of documentary-style realism. The Ship That Died of Shame is an odd choice, since most of its action takes place after the war. I'd have preferred something like The Captive Heart or The Way Ahead, but I've grown used to the curveballs that Anchor Bay usually throw into their boxsets. My personal favorite is Went the Day Well?, which is remarkably violent and stylish for a 1940s propoganda picture. And by the way, only three of these films were made at Ealing: Went the Day Well?, The Cruel Sea, and The Ship That Died of Shame. The Dam Busters and The Colditz Story were made by Associated British and Britsh Lion, respectively.

The transfers are excellent. They're clean and crisp, much like the discs in Anchor Bay's earlier Alec Guinness Collection (also recommended). There are occasional scratches and scenes with heavy grain, but nothing distracting. Even Went the Day Well?, the oldest in the set (1942), looks beautiful. I hope Anchor Bay maintains a good relationship with Studio Canal, the company that owns the rights to these and other superb British films, because they make a good team. Studio Canal keeps their film stock in great condition, and Anchor Bay's remastering jobs and transfers are solid.

The real let-down is the lack of extras, especially considering the high price. I'm not the kind of person who demands a commentary on every DVD; I'm more concerned about getting a good transfer. But these are such key films in the history of British cinema that I expected more.
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