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Classic British Thriller.
on May 20, 2008
Released in 1950, "Morning Departure" is an excellent dramatic thriller from the UK that can still have an impact on a modern audience, thanks to fine performances and a solid script.
John Mills stars as Lt. Cmdr Armstrong, the Captain of a submarine, who is happily married and contemplating leaving the Navy to accept a job running one of his father-in-law's factories. He is taking his submarine out on manouevers for perhaps the last time before entering the business world. While World War II may be over, it is clear that His Majesty's ships and--in this case--boat must remain in first-class working order !
The Sub's crew consists of an interesting cross-section of people, from officers to lower-ranked seamen. Lt. Manson ( an aristocratic Nigel Patrick ) seems like a shallow womanizer at first, but there is more to this character than meets the eye. Then we have Stoker Snipe, a neurotic claustrophobic ( a young but rivetting Richard Attenborough )--the last guy who should be on a submarine ! It seems that he volunteered for submarine service because the pay was higher--he has an irresponsible young wife who "likes to go shopping !" A number of other fine British character actors make up the rest of the crew, including James Hayter, George Cole and Victor Maddern.
You won't be surprised to hear that something goes terribly wrong for this sub and her crew, and a rescue mission has to be organized by the "brass" on shore--"stiff upper lip" roles here for a "Pre-M" Bernard Lee and--soon to be a major British star--a young Kenneth More.
John Mills is terrific in the lead, but this comes as no surprise to those of us who have followed "Sir John's" long, illustrious career. The film is a roller coaster of triumph, tragedy, cowardice, bravery, suspense, humour and a whole gamut of emotions as the plight of our trapped sailors becomes more desperate by the hour.
The picture is full-screen, black and white, with mono sound. I had no problems with the quality.
"Morning Departure" may start slowly and comfortably, but it soon progresses to a very intense experience and an unforgettable finale. It is a shining example from the golden age of British cinema. Recommended.