Not bad for the period, a mixture of the usual war-time conflicts and adventures. Unlike those of the post-war era, the ships involved here are fictional. There is no Bismarck, Scharnhorst, or Gniesenau but instead a formidable German battleship called the Deutschland, driven away from the titular convoy by more lightly armed British escorts. The Brits also sink a U-boat.
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The British — officers and civilians alike — are heroic and give their lives willingly. The Germans, surprisingly, are treated as puppets of Hitler, but not especially brutal puppets. They’re given a chance to argue their point of view.
There is a negligible romantic conflict between the captain of the British destroyer (Clive Brook) who is stern, courageous, and a little distant, and his newly assigned lieutenant (John Clements). Clements, it seems, had run off with the captain’s wife (Judy Campbell) and then unceremoniously dumped her. The wife, however, had merely formed a friendship with Clements after deciding she would leave Brook in any case. It’s suggested that there was no exchange of fluids between the lieutenant and the wife. This misunderstanding is cleared up when the U-boat torpedoes a merchant ship full of refugees, and one of the refugees happens to be Lucy, the woman in question. Why did Lucy leave, you ask? Why do all wives have problems with husbands who are making a career of the military. John Wayne had dozens of such wives and girl friends. “You’re married to the Navy,” and so on.
There are several naval engagements that aren’t too badly done, given the strictures on the production of motion pictures. It is, after all, 1940, and Britain doesn’t have a massive budget allowance for movies. The battles at sea depend mostly on model work, some of it more convincing than others. It’s disconcerting to see a shell splash near a ship and send up a plume of sea water with drops as big as basketballs. There are interpolated shots of real convoys and warship at sea.
The performances are of professional caliber with everyone hitting his or her marks and speaking their lines credibly. There are small roles for Stewart Granger and for Michael Wilding. Wilding’s is so small that I missed it entirely. There are weaknesses in the editing that are likely to confuse the viewer momentarily. Overall, pretty good, considering the context.
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