The Cruel Sea  (1953) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Cruel Sea 1953

The Cruel Sea (1953)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Cruel Sea Photos

Movie Info

With the look and feel of a documentary, this riveting British WW II-set drama centers on the exploits of the Lt. Commander of a corvette, a small but speedy British Royal Navy warship. He is a man consumed with guilt after his ship, the Compass Rose is torpedoed by a U-boat, causing the deaths of many crewmen. Later he is on his new ship when he finds himself faced with a life and death situation upon the ruthless ocean. The plot is based on a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat.


Jack Hawkins
as Ericson
Donald Sinden
as Lockhart
Virginia McKenna
as Julie Hallam
Moira Lister
as Elaine Morell
June Thorburn
as Doris Ferraby
Megs Jenkins
as Tallow's Sister
Meredith Edwards
as Yeoman Wells
Glyn Houston
as Phillips
Alec McCowen
as Tonbridge
Leo Phillips
as Wainwright
Dafydd Havard
as Signalman Rose
Sam Kydd
as Carslake
Barry Steele
as Broughton
Gerard Heinz
as Polish Captain
Gerik Schjelderup
as Norwegian Captain
Gaston Richer
as French Captain
Andrew Cruickshank
as Scott Brown
Kenn Kennedy
as Allingham
Harold Goodwin
as Asdic Operator
George Curzon
as Admiral at party
Anthony Snell
as R.N. Lieutenant
Ronald Simpson
as R.N. Captain
Don Sharp
as Lieutenant Commander
Jack Howard
as Survivor
Russell Waters
as A.R.P. Warden
Harold Jamieson
as A.R.P. Warden
Warwick Ashton
as Petty Officer Instructor
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Critic Reviews for The Cruel Sea

All Critics (4) | Top Critics (1)

The character and actions of the seamen are told with a crispness that is a model of editing.

June 24, 2019 | Full Review…

One is grateful nowadays for a film which does not attempt to depict war as anything but a tragic and bloody experience, and it is this quality which gives the production its final power to move.

January 28, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Cruel Sea


The Cruel Sea is a seafaring drama set during WWII, following an escort ship and its crew battling German U-boats. It's very much a film of its time; the propaganda element is heavy, the enemy unseen for the vast majority of the time, and it's full of stiff upper lipped officers throwing in with the working classes. For this reason, it seems very dated, and the scenes on shore consist of the usual kitchen sink soap opera melodrama. British stalwarts Jack Hawkins and Donald Sinden put in decent performances but it's lacking any real star presence and some ham fisted direction (particularly the voice over flashbacks) damages the film's authenticity. It is interesting to see the nuts and bolts of how such a ship was operated and the battle scenes are believably realistic, but I can't see this being of much interest to any but military historians and the nostalgic.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

The Cruel Sea Quotes

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