Kenneth More, Dana Wynter and Carl Mohner star in this 1960 drama about the heroic efforts of the British Royal Intelligence to stop the Bismarck, a German battleship launched in 1941 to cut off supplies to Great Britain and invade the country. Director Lewis Gilbert combines actual war footage and a roller-coaster plot to deliver an unforgettable document of world history.
Rating: 8 our of 10
Ever since I was a young film student I have always been intrigued by the poster to Lewis Gilbert’s 1960 “Sink the Bismarck” with it’s very cool, dramatic and colorful battleship on fire with the warplane hovering just above it in battle formation. Upon finally seeing Gilbert’s film (after seeing his numerous Bond films first, though) I was more than intrigued. I became enthralled. With docudrama and with history, “Sink the Bismarck” is a docudrama of the highest order. It is to this day meant to be taken very seriously and even though at times it may take some dramatic license and have some inaccuracies, it never takes the audience’s love and respect for history for granted. This is one historic film that is close to being as near perfect to depicting the reality of a true situation on film as “A Night to Remember,” a film about the sinking of the RMS Titanic. It is a strange co-incidence that Kenneth More who starred in that film headlines this one. He serves this film just as well, portraying the fictional Captain Jonathan Shepard.
The hunt is on for Nazi Germany’s most powerful, intimidating and dangerous battleship, the Bismarck. Shepard is assigned to co-ordinate the hunt for the Bismarck in order for the British to maintain some control over the Atlantic. The Bismarck has proven to be a formidable and elusive foe. She was very big and even by today’s standards was a titan of a battleship. Lewis Gilbert cast Carl Mohner as Captain Lindemann, who, as the commander of the Bismarck, stoically plays cat and mouse with the British naval fleet. Dana Wynter who starred in the original Don Seigel version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” portrays 2nd Officer Anne Davis. She assists Shepard with the hunt to find and destroy Bismarck. Shepard relies heavily on her and Gilbert relies heavily on them for sub-plot.
Sink the Bismarck is a great War docudrama that does not move with MTV-style pacing and does not have loud, intrusive speaker shattering explosions. It is very methodical, smart, and sometimes has a bit of a ‘stiff upper lip’ type feel. It is a great watch for history enthusiasts and Lewis Gilbert expertly directs his actors with intense fortitude in just the right places. There is also a bit of well imposed sympathy for both sides of the war here as well. He also weaves real time battle footage with his film. The film is well staged and suspenseful. Highly recommended.