🎥 Sink The Bismarck – 1960

The Story …

In February 1939, Nazi Germany’s most powerful battleship, Bismarck, is launched, beginning a new era of German sea power.

In May 1941, British naval intelligence discovers Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen are about to sail into the North Atlantic to attack Allied convoys. From an underground war room in London, Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More) coordinates the hunt for the dreaded Bismarck.

The two German warships encounter HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales in the Denmark Strait, and the four warships engage in a deadly gun duel. The battle results in the annihilation and violent disintegration of the Hood, shocking combatants on both sides. Prince of Wales is alone and is fired on by the two German ships. She manages to inflict damage on Bismarck’s bow, but Bismarck returns fire, destroying the Prince of Wales’ bridge.

Prince of Wales emits a smoke screen behind which to retreat. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen also retreat, but they are shadowed by the cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk using radar. Later, Prinz Eugen breaks away and heads towards the port of Brest, in occupied France, while Bismarck turns and fires at the British cruisers to provide cover as she escapes.

The attack forces the cruisers to retreat. An air assault from the carrier HMS Victorious damages Bismarck’s fuel tanks, but the vessel is otherwise largely undamaged.

Back at London’s operations headquarters, Captain Shepard gambles that Admiral Gunther Lütjens, the Fleet Commander aboard Bismarck, has ordered a return to friendly waters where U-boats and air cover will make it impossible to attack. He plans to intercept and attack the German vessel before she reaches safety. Shepard commits a disproportionately large force to the search, and his wager pays off when Bismarck is located steaming toward the French coast.

British forces have a narrow time window in which to destroy or slow their prey before German support and their own diminishing fuel supplies will preclude further attacks. Swordfish torpedo planes from HMS Ark Royal have two chances. The first fails when the pilots misidentify HMS Sheffield as Bismarck, but thankfully their new magnetic torpedo detonators are faulty, with most exploding as soon as they hit the sea.

Returning to the carrier and changing to conventional contact exploders, their second attack, this time on the Bismarck, is successful. One torpedo causes only minor damage; but a catastrophic second hit near the stern jams the German battleship’s rudder.

Unable to repair the rudder, Bismarck steams in circles. During the night two British destroyers attack the crippled battleship with torpedoes. One hits, but Bismarck returns fire, sinking the destroyer HMS Solent.

The main force of British ships, including battleships HMS Rodney and HMS King George V, find Bismarck the next day and rain shells upon her.

Lütjens insists that German forces will arrive to save them, but he is killed when a shell strikes Bismarck’s bridge. The remaining bridge officers are killed and the crew abandon their sinking ship. On board King George V, Admiral John Tovey orders the newly joined cruiser HMS Dorsetshire to finish Bismarck off.

The cruiser fires torpedoes at the German battleship, causing the vessel to sink faster than her crew can escape. The captain of King George V, Wilfrid Patterson, lowers his head as Bismarck disappears beneath the waves. Admiral Tovey orders Dorsetshire to pick up survivors, finally saying tersely “Well, gentlemen, let’s go home.”

Credits :

  • Directed by Lewis Gilbert
  • Screenplay by Edmund H. North
  • Based on The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck 1958 novel by C. S. Forester
  • Produced by John Brabourne
  • Cinematography : Christopher Challis
  • Edited by Peter R. Hunt
  • Music by Clifton Parker
  • Distributed by 20th Century-Fox
  • Release Date : 11 February 1960

Cast :

  • Kenneth More as Captain Jonathan Shepard (More had served as a Royal Navy lieutenant on HMS Victorious during the war.)
  • Dana Wynter as Women’s Royal Naval Service Second Officer (WRNS) Anne Davis
  • Laurence Naismith as First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound. (Naismith served in the Royal Artillery in the war.)
  • Geoffrey Keen as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (A.C.N.S.)
  • Michael Goodliffe as Captain Banister. (Captured at Dunkirk after being shot in the leg.)
  • Maurice Denham as Commander Richards. (Served in the Medical Corps in the war.)
  • Norman Shelley as voice of Winston Churchill (uncredited)
  • Jack Watling as RNVR Signals Officer
  • Thomas Waldron Price as Flag Lieutenant to First Sea Lord
  • Seán Barrett as Able Seaman Brown
  • Victor Maddern as Leading seaman, in closing scene outside Admiralty (uncredited)
  • Graham Stark as Petty Officer Williams
  • Russell Napier as Air Vice Marshal
  • Edward R. Murrow as himself : CBS London radio correspondent in 1941

At Sea …

  • Karel Štěpánek as Admiral Günther Lütjens in Bismarck
  • Carl Möhner as Captain Lindemann of Bismarck (voice: Robert Rietti)
  • Walter Hudd as Admiral Holland, in HMS Hood
  • John Stuart as Captain Kerr of HMS Hood
  • Esmond Knight as Captain Leach of HMS Prince of Wales. (Knight served as a gunnery officer on board Prince of Wales, and was seriously injured and blinded during the battle with Bismarck.)
  • Johnny Briggs as Young Seaman in Prince of Wales (uncredited)
  • Sydney Tafler as Henry, civilian workman aboard Prince of Wales
  • Sam Kydd as civilian workman aboard Prince of Wales
  • Julian Somers as civilian workman aboard HMS Prince of Wales
  • Ernest Clark as Captain Ellis, HMS Suffolk
  • Mark Dignam as Captain Maund, HMS Ark Royal
  • John Stride as Tom Shepard, Captain Shepard’s son, TAG (Telegraphist/Air Gunner) in Ark Royal’s Swordfish squadron (uncredited)
  • Donald Churchill as Seaman on Ark Royal (uncredited)
  • Glyn Houston as Seaman on Prince of Wales (uncredited)
  • David Hemmings as seaman in Ark Royal (uncredited)
  • John Horsley as Captain, HMS Sheffield
  • Peter Burton as Captain Philip Vian, 4th Destroyer Flotilla
  • Jack Gwillim as Captain Wilfrid Patterson, HMS King George V. (Gwillim served 20 years in the Royal Navy, rising to the rank of commander.)
  • Michael Hordern as Admiral Sir John Tovey, C-in-C Home Fleet, in HMS King George V. (Hordern served as a lieutenant commander on HMS Illustrious during the war.)
  • Peter Dyneley as Commander Jenkins (uncredited)
  • Michael Balfour as Able Seaman – Lookout on Suffolk (uncredited)
  • Michael Ripper as Able Seaman – Lookout on Suffolk (uncredited)
  • Walter Gotell as Signals Officer Mueller on the Bismarck (uncredited)
  • George Pravda as Damage Control Officer on the Bismarck (uncredited)
  • Anthony Oliver as Operations Officer on Ark Royal (uncredited)
  • Ian Hendry as Meteorological Officer on King George V (uncredited)
  • Brian Worth as Torpedo Control Officer on First Destroyer (uncredited)
  • Edward Judd as Navigating Officer on board Prince of Wales

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