Sink the Bismarck! (1960)
I’ve seen this in the TV listing time and time again, not really taking any notice of it. Until I decided to give this WWII classic a chance, a chance I should have taken much sooner with Sink the Bismarck (1960). I guess after seeing another sea-faring war film The Battle on the River Plate (1956) that shares the action of warfare between the war room and the field of battle. Then also in glistening Technicolor that depicted the chase on the Latin American seas. This later entry is presented in black and white that reminds of the images of the time of the conflict, as it blends stock footage and new that creates this tense search and destroy mission.
With news of the most dangerous warship in the German Navy the Bismarck, the pride and glory of the Nazis as we saw at the beginning of the film. To the Allies, mainly Britain on our own against a fallen Europe we must take out the most dangerous ship to weaken their strength at sea.
At the centre of these dramatised events we are split between war room deep underground in London, under the leadership of Captain Shepherd (Kenneth Moore) a cold man who is driven by the discipline of the navy. Whilst out in the Atlantic the action is split between a number of ships that are at the will of Naval headquarters as they order them about the dangerous seas.
I thought at first it would be a game of cat and mouse from the comfort of giant maps and model ships moved around by sticks. My perceptions were soon blown out of the window as we tracked down the Bismarck as it emerged from the fog of Norway to sink more convoys crippling the allies efforts. More importantly to affirm the glory of the Nazis.
It’s a constant game of engaging the deadliest that the enemy can throw at us. Gradually we make dents in the armour of this robust ship that takes very little damage, even less to their crew who can only think of glory and pummeling the enemy. Whilst at home in the U.K. all the navies energy is directed toward the destruction of the ship, even more so when Winston Churchill orders them to use all necessary force. In these early years of the war alone with no involvement of the then neutral U.S. who we only see for N.B.C. radio with Edward R Murrow acting as a narrator.
The tension on dry land mounts especially for Shepherd who has shut himself off emotionally to cope after losing his wife to the London bombings. Only having his son in his life, stationed on a carrier that is involved in the action. He only begins to soften up with his assistant Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) who wants to help the emotionless man in the thick of war. Make him understand that everyone is hurting during the conflict. An internal battle he must win to survive the war. When all is said and done it’s really all about that warship that keeps fighting back, coming out of each encounter with a few scratches, It had to go down, sometime, somehow, and gloriously it does after taking a few of our ships with her.
- Bismarck Model (wongjasmineblog.wordpress.com)
- The story of the battleship Tirpitz – Bismarck’s sister ship – and the desperate British efforts to destroy it . (oldsaltbooks.wordpress.com)
- Reeling Backward: “Sink the Bismarck!” (1960) (captaincritic.blogspot.co.uk)
- Sink the Bismarck: Fact and Fiction (bishopmadison.blogspot.co.uk)
- War Movie Wednesday – Sink the Bismarck! (derfeldmarschall.blogspot.co.uk)