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United Kingdom 1960
Directed by
Lewis Gilbert
97 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Sink The Bismarck!

Although looking like a typical British war-time propaganda film this account of the pursuit and sinking of the state-of-art German battleship  Bismarck in May 1941, based on a work by C S Forester, was made in 1960.

As much as it typically replete with romantically sterling English chaps and their selfless heroics, it is nevertheless an engaging film enhanced by the almost quasi-documentary like attention to authenticity, producer John Brabourne being able to use his influence as son-in-law of Lord Mountbatten, then chief of the Defence Staff, to obtain the co-operation of the Admiralty.

Perhaps because it was made under the aegis of 20th Century Fox there are some fictional embellishments such as a member of the Norwegian resistance being shot as he taps out a message about sighting the Bismarck and most notably a burgeoning romance between Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More) and his improbably pretty Second Officer, Anne Davis (Dana Wynter). The film also uses the real Edward R Murrow, the American journalist whose wartime reports from London had helped turn US public opinion in favour of Britain.

The battle sequences with their scale models are quaint by today’s SFX standards but the drowning of the German soldiers on the Bismarck is handled quite candidly and it is revealing to see that the British were still using open bi-wing torpedo planes (known as Swordfish) at this time. 




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