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The Cruel Sea

4.6 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Eight years after the end of World War II, Ealing Studios brought Nicholas Monsarrat's best-selling novel THE CRUEL SEA to the screen, launching the careers of Donald Sinden (Lieutenant Lockhart), Denholm Elliott (Lieutenant Morell) and Virginia McKenna (Wren Hallam), and establishing Jack Hawkins (Captain Ericson) as a star. Comdr. Erickson is made captain of the Corvette Compass Rose, a small escort vessel used to guide and protect convoys travelling through the Atlantic. Ericson had his confidence severely shaken during his last command, in which he lost his ship and most of its men following an attack by a German U-boat. As he leads a new and largely inexperienced crew, Ericson is once again thrown into a life-and-death dilemma that forces him to choose between destroying an enemy ship and sparing the lives of his own men.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Hawkins, Donald Sinden, Denholm Elliott, Virginia McKenna
  • Directors: Charles Frend
  • Writers: Eric Ambler
  • Producers: Leslie Norman
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: LIONSGATE
  • DVD Release Date: March 8, 2012
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H1RFQ4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,635 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cruel Sea" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
A realistic tale of the Second World War at sea This war time drama is played out through the desperate struggle of one man, his crew and their ship. We follow the expliots of a Royal Navy corvette HMS Compass Rose, as she carries out her duty in protecting the vulnerable convoys from the hunting packs of U-boats in the North Atlantic. All the experiences of the war at sea are there, in the faces of the men, the arduous conditions of the rough seas and in the horrors of war like the poor wretched survivors they pluck from the sea, choking and covered in oil. However, the most memorable scene, and one of which is surely equal to any other in cinematic history, has to be when Captain Ericson (Jack Hawkins) is forced to decide whether or not to attack a U-boat or save a group of British survivors that struggle in the water directly above his intended target.
After 1942 this dilemma was turned into a blunt order when the Admiralty instructed anti-submarine vessels to make every attempt to destroy a U-boat thus carrying out their sole duty of protecting the convoy. At that time U-boats were believed to be diving close to the sinking ship so that their presence in the area would be harder to detect by the ship's Asdic radar. This often resulted in survivors losing their lives or being seriously injured from an indiscriminate depth charge attack. In the book by Herbert Gordon Male 'In All Respects Ready For Sea,' there is a true story of such an attack and the author gives such an account.
My father served on a anti-submarrine armed trawler during the war and his experiences were of special interest to the film's main star Jack Hawkins whom he met and became friends with during the completion of the film.
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Format: DVD
This movie is quite faithful to the novel, which was also spectacular. A good example of the interaction of men thrown together on a ship, at war, in difficult conditions, fighting a cruel sea in an even crueler war.

This should be considered one bookend of the many movies covering the Second World War at sea, in the Atlantic, with the other being "Das Boot", covering the same war scenario, from opposite sides of the conflict.

A must see for an understanding and appreciation of the war at sea in WWII.
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Format: DVD
This is a very realistic, semi-documentary account of British convoys in the Atlantic during WW II. We see the men as frightened, lonely, and, above all, dedicated. Jack Hawkins is the captain of the Compass Rose, a ship that gets blown up by a German sub, and from which he and some of his men just barely survive on a raft. He is given another command and we feel most acutely his torment over risking the lives of his men while getting revenge on another German sub. The movie is intelligent and honest, thanks mainly to Eric Ambler's script and top-notch dialogue. Produced in the Ealing Studios and a gem of a movie. Definitely worth a watch.
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By A Customer on January 4, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I have just read the book, and as a WW2 merchantman I just realized how lucky I was to have been sailing in the Pacific where all I had to put up with was an occasional Kamikazi, and "Friendly Fire", because the Japs didn't understand the true use of the subs like their allies, the Germans did.
I have just ordered the movie, and if it gets across the fear that I felt when I had to go below deck to the engine room when I was under attack as well as the book does, it will deserve a five star rating.
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Format: VHS Tape
This war time drama reflects the desperate struggle of one man, his crew and their ship. HMS Compass Rose, a corvette carrying out her duty in protecting the vulnerable convoys from hunting packs of U-boats in the North Atlantic.
All the experiences of war at sea are portrayed here, as if etched on the faces of the men. We see the effects on HMS Compass's crew having to live with the arduous conditions at sea and the horrors of war, rescuing poor wretched survivors from the sea, choking and covered in oil while all the time in fear of the unseen threat of a U-boat attack.
However, the most memorable scene, and one of which must surely be equal to any other in the history of this type of war film genre, has to be when Captain Ericson (Jack Hawkins) is forced to decide whether or not to attack a U-boat or save a group of survivors in the water directly above his intended target.
Historically after 1942 this dilemma was turned into a blunt order when the Admiralty instructed anti-submarine vessels to make every attempt to destroy a U-boat regardless of survivors in the water and thus carrying out its priority to protect the ships in the convoy. In the book by Herbert Gordon Male 'In All Respects Ready For Sea,' there is a true story of such an attack and the author gives his own account of how he and other survivors came under depth charge attack from a Royal Naval corvette.
My late father served on a anti-submarrine armed trawler during the war and his experiences were of special interest to the films main star, Jack Hawkins whom my father met and became friends.. My father always felt that this film was an important one in that it told a more factual story.
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