on December 3, 2011
I really like this movie for an interesting change of pace from a typical WWII battle movie. The story-line is interesting and suspenseful and I understand from other sources is based on a true story. Ralph Richardson is an accomplished London stage actor of the time and appears in many WWII movies. Esmond Knight who lost an eye in WWII and has not recovered vision in the other eye is essentially acting blind in this movie and as such does a great job. I was particularly interested in authenticity as the movie was released in 1943, however, I was pleased as parts of the movie depicted life in the Netherlands during Nazi occupation. This movie has historical significance other than just the story as I understand all information and films released to the public during the war years in Britain came under the scrutiny of the MoI (Ministry of Information). Therefore it is my belief that other than mere entertainment value the movie's purpose was that of a morale booster especially considering D Day was just months away.
VCI Entertainment and The Rank Collection presents "THE SILVER FLEET" (1943) (88 min/B&W) -- Starring: Ralph Richardson, Googie Withers, Esmond Knight, Beresford Egan, Frederick Burtwell, Kathleen Byron, Willem Akkerman, Dorothy Gordon, Charles Victor, John Longden
Directed by: Vernon Campbell Sewell & Gordon Wellesley
(VCI's slant on the synopsis)
Set during the occupation of Holland during World War II, Ralph Richardson, in a very charismatic role, stars as the owner of a Dutch shipyard who pretends to collaborate with the Nazis in order to protect his wife and fellow workers. Inspired by the memory of the Dutch historical hero Piet Hein, he forms a complicated plan to double cross the Nazis and to sabotage the two submarines he's been ordered to build for them.
The Silver Fleet a lesser known World War II film, but very well done with an excellent cast, great direction and a screenplay that has non-stop scenes loaded with tension. Ralph Richardson gives one of his best performances of his career.
A truly rousing and patriotic WWII film, with an ending that is quite moving. This film has long been under appreciated.
Special footnote: ~ Esmond Knight, who had lost an eye during the war, had not yet regained the use of his remaining eye when he played the role of Von Schiffer. Playing his part completely blind, there is only one scene when the audience can guess Knight's disability. It occurs quite briefly when Knight, about to go through a doorway, is gently steered through the door by a fellow actor.
1. Ralph Richardson
Date of Birth: 19 December 1902 - Tivoli Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, UK
Date of Death: 10 October 1983 - Marylebone, London, England, UK
2. Googie Withers
Date of Birth: 12 March 1917 - Karachi, British India. [now in Pakistan]
Date of Death: 15 July 2011 - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
3. Esmond Knight
Date of Birth: 4 May 1906 - East Sheen, Surrey, England, UK
Date of Death: 23 February 1987 - London, England, UK
4. Vernon Sewell (Director)
Date of Birth: 4 July 1903 - London, England, UK
Date of Death: 21 June 2001 - Durban, South Africa
5. Gordon Wellesley (Director)
Date of Birth: 8 December 1906 - Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Date of Death: October 1980 - London, England, UK
Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]
Total Time: 88 min on DVD ~ VCI Entertainment ~ (November 15, 2011)
on January 8, 2013
When my DVD arrived and I saw that the cover was different than that pictured on Amazon, and that the case had no mention of "VCI" or "The Rank Collection" but instead displayed that it was produced by "Inspired Distribution" ("Visit us at: [...]"), and that I had just recently been supremely dissapointed by the quality of transfer for another movie that came from Inspired Distribution (see my review of "Spitfire: The First of the Few", called "Horrible Transfer!"), I then realized I was just about to open another dissapointment. No way! Not a second time! The common denominator is that these products are both sold by "Ocean Breeze Media" out of Miami Beach, Florida. I will not buy another product sold by them! BTW, if you go to the Inspired Distribution website listed on case reverse (see above), you will NOT find either of these products. What's going on with these poor reproductions?
on March 2, 2013
To enjoy this movie there are a few things you need to know up front. This is not an action movie. It is plot driven, somewhat stodgy and slow-paced but no more so than virtually any other movie of this era. This movie may have been intended as a propaganda piece but it is driven by the acting and the writing rather than overt histrionics.
The factual basis for this movie refers to an incident wherein Dutch yard workers seized control of a submarine on its way to the German Navy and instead presented it to the British Navy. From this event the writers /directors Vernon Sewall and Gordon Wellesley crafted a later day version of the Scarlet Pimpernel. In this case Dutch engineer and shipyard operator Jaan Van Leyden (Sir Ralph Richardson) allows himself to be publicly known as a "quisling" or Nazi collaborator while secretly conducting resistance under the name Piat Hein.
The story is told simply with no special effects, making the best of a cast works who work well together and directors who allowed the story to unfold while the drama builds naturally. Of course the Germans are shown as arrogant and incompetent but this is done without caricature or the usual wartime exaggeration.
Allowing for the fact that the pacing is as movie pacing was in the 1940s; the sum quality of the various performances and the ability of the story to build dramatic tension -despite the fact that we think we know what the outcome will be; this movie totals out to a superior product at a reasonable price. This movie is better than just a popcorn movie and as a dramatic performance beats out most World War II "blow `em ups".
In my copy sound and visuals were more than adequate. I was not distracted by any film to disk failures.
on June 3, 2012
Like the title, I'll watch anything WWll...at least once. This is not one of the better WWll movies, but is a story line I haven't heard before. You are conquered, so what do you do. The big driver in this story is that the hero couldn't tell anyone what he was doing so even his family thought he was collaborating with the enemy until after he was dead. None of the submarines built in his shipyard sank a ship. None of the actors are well known but John Wayne/Gary Cooper/Clint Eastwood can't be in every movie. Well worth watching.
on March 28, 2015
I wanted to give this film 4 stars as a very unique and old WW2 story made during that war. However, although the sound is passable, the viewing picture is not, at least on the DVD I purchased through Amazon. It has the "Deer in the Headlights" look. What I mean by this is that as you are trying to watch a scene, it's as if the actors are not in front of a camera, but rather a big truck with it's headlights on them. It's so washed out it's hard to make out peoples faces. You might see eyeballs and mouths, but faces are all too bright white to be considered "Glorious B & W." It looks as if that big truck has it's "Hi-beams or brights" on in most of the scenes and throughout the flick. It's very difficult to follow a movie in which you cannot even see the actors faces properly. Good WW2 drama but I do not recommend buying unless you are a true die hard WW2 history buff like me.
on January 17, 2013
I won't give it away by telling what happened, but I thought it was wonderful in every way. Movie makers today need a lesson in movie making, and quit depending on the special effects to sell the film. This has it all! Great story, great acting, great use of props, and based on truth.