HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Assassin
Die, Mommie, Die!
All the Money in the World
Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, The
Black Panther
Children's Hour, The
Mayhem
Sphere
Guyver, The
Night School
Loveless
Ragtime
Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters
Murders in the Rue Morgue
Wound, The
Scalawag
Let's Get Harry
Girl with Green Eyes
Sunchaser, The
Tom Jones
Downsizing
Defiant Ones, The
Centerfold Girls, The
Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Police Academy 3: Back in Training
Safe Place, A
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Cargo
Entertainer, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
Hell is a City: Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver
Boris Goes Bonkers, Bela Goes Bats: The Old Dark House and Mark of the Vampire
Charles Bronson's Mid-70s: Breakheart Pass and Others
Kids in America: The Breakfast Club vs Metropolitan
80s Dance-Off: Staying Alive vs Murder-Rock vs Breakin'
The Cinematic Darkside of Donald Crowhurst
Dutch Courage: The Flodder Series
Coming of Age: Boys on Film 18 - Heroes on DVD
Country and Irish - The secret history of Irish pop culture
   
 
  Western Approaches Propaganda with feelingBuy this film here.
Year: 1944
Director: Pat Jackson
Stars: Eric Fullerton, Duncan MacKenzie, W. Kerr, Eric Baskeyfield, Dick Longford, Bart Wadham, H.S. Hills, P.J. Pyecraft, Chief Engineer Russell, Fred Armistead, Jim Redmond
Genre: Drama, Action, War, Documentary, Adventure
Rating:  0 Votes
Review: Don't bother trying to find other films made by the cast of this film. They were all non-professionals, genuine merchant seaman selected by Pat Jackson to appear in a documentary-style drama set in the Battle of the Atlantic.

The part played by the Merchant Navy in the Allied victory in World War Two is one of the most unappreciated in history. Sailors who took part in the Arctic convoys to Russia had to wait until 2013 (sixty-eight years after the end of the war) before being given any kind of award or medal – the Arctic Star.

Pat Jackson's film goes some way towards illustrating the conditions and dangers faced by ordinary sailors on convoy duty. It was very well made, under difficult conditions, and can easily stand alongside The Cruel Sea, San Demetrio London, and other wartime naval dramas.

The story centres on the crew of the merchant ship 'Jason' which has been torpedoed in mid-Atlantic. Twenty-two men (including the captain) have found refuge in a lifeboat. They plot a course for the west coast of Ireland, three weeks' sailing distance away, measure out the rations, and set the sail.

In parallel to this we see a convoy being prepared in New York and given its sailing orders. These are some of the weakest scenes, full of exposition so we know how the convoy system works, and with very awkward 'performances' from the US Navy officers. Once at sea things liven up considerably, as the British convoy leader tries to communicate with a French ship making too much smoke - “Defornce de fumay, see voo play!” (The comedy is intentional.)

The weather takes a turn for the worse, forcing a ship to detach from the convoy and speed up in order to be able to keep under control. All the while, the men in the lifeboat are increasingly desperate, calculating their chances of survival and hoping the radio operator can somehow raise a friendly ship with their small transmitter before the battery dies. The detached ship does catch the last dying signal and sets out to the rescue.

In a twist, however, a U-Boat is shadowing the lifeboat just hoping for another kill when rescue arrives. When it is spotted by the survivors they have to decide to sail away from the rescue ship in order to prevent her falling victim to a torpedo. Of course, all turns out well in the end, but not without some sacrifice.

The film was made by two units. One filmed the convoy scenes, the other the lifeboat. Different qualities of film stock made for a very hard job of editing, and the joins do show, but they are not obtrusive. The lifeboat was actually filmed off the coast of Anglesey, north Wales, and made for a very uncomfortable shoot with the huge Technicolor camera and lighting rigs.

Yes, this film is in colour, and shot by a master of the medium, Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus). Cardiff makes the endless grey of the sea an almost living thing, especially when the tiny red sail of the lifeboat is set against it. He also does an outstanding job of capturing the craggy, weathered faces of men who have spent their lives at sea.

The performances of the cast are, indeed, non-professional, but they are heartfelt and can be genuinely moving. The lone watchman's first glimpse of the rescue ship is a case in point and is emphasised by Clifton Parker's excellent score (is it being an island race that makes British sea music so good?).

This film is now available from the Imperial War Museum (with an excellent commentary by Pat Jackson) and is probably the best film about the war at sea made during the war itself.
Reviewer: Enoch Sneed

 

This review has been viewed 1409 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
  Jamie Nichols
Andrew Pragasam
George White
Darren Jones
  Butch Elliot
   

 

Last Updated: