Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

 

 

 

Director:  Lewis Gilbert.

Starring:  Kenneth More (Capt. Jonathan Shepard), Dana Wynter (Anne Davis), Carl Mohner (Capt. Lindemann), Laurence Naismith (First Sea Lord), Geoffrey Keen (A.C.N.S.), Karel Stepanek (Adm. Lutjens), Michael Hordern (Commander on King George), Maurice Denham (Cmdr. Richards), Michael Goodliffe (Capt. Banister), Esmond Knight (Captain, Prince of Wales), Jack Watling (Signals Officer), Jack Gwillam (Captain, King George), Mark Dignam (Captain, Ark Royal), Ernest Clark (Captain, Suffolk), John Horsley (Captain, Sheffield), Peter Burton (Captain, 1st Destroyer), John Stuart (Captain, Hood), Walter Hudd (Admiral, Hood), Sydney Tafler (Workman), Edward R. Murrow (Himself ).

Black and white film. 

 

A drama using some real footage of the destruction on May 27, 1941 of the Germans' most powerful battleship (launched 1938).

It's not a great movie, but it's pretty good.  The movie effectively portrays the near fear the British navy had for the mightiest battleship on the water, the German Bismarck.  The British navy control room was located 200 feet below ground level.  The previous head of the control center is leaving, to be replaced by Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More), who is an almost unfriendly commander who strictly makes everyone follow every rule.  Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) proves invaluable to the new captain in tracking the movement of the British navy and that of the Bismarck

The control room receives information from coastal watchers that a large ship with an escort is moving through the Baltic Sea.  The movement is confirmed by a Norwegian coastal watcher putting himself in great danger in German occupied Norway. 

Two cruisers, Nassau and Suffolk, confirm the identity of the battleship.  They trail the Bismarck to keep it in sight.  The British Navy needs time to get the best ship in their navy, the Hood, to the scene.  But it's going to take a little more than just the Hood to tame the Bismarck

The film also follows shows the German side of the struggle to sink the Bismarck, concentrating on the reactions of Capt. Lindemann (Carl Mohner) and Admiral Lutjens (Karel Stepanek).  Hitler himself is very proud of his battleship and personally follows its career.  Admiral Lutjens seems a little foolish as he insists that no one can touch the Bismarck.   After all, air planes off of air craft carriers could readily sink any German ship afloat.  Ah, but we like our little illusions. 

In the search for the Bismarck we learn why Captain Shepard has been so emotionally distant from his staff, so we become a little more sympathetic to him.  This is followed by a possible flowering of a relationship between the Captain and his aide, Anne Davis. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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