In 1941 Captain Jonathan Shepard takes over as Director of Operations at naval headquarters in London just as they receive reports that the Bismarck, the pride of the German navy, is going out to sea in the North Atlantic. Shepard argues in favor of moving as many ships as possible to the area to find her. In their first encounter with the Bismarck, the Royal Navy loses HMS Hood, the largest ship in the fleet while HMS Prince of Wales is severely damaged. Shepard then transfers ships from the Mediterranean fleet to go after Bismarck; they include the aircraft carrier Ark Royal on which his son Tom is serving as an aircraft gunner. Damaged in a second encounter, the Bismarck heads for Brest on the French coast and the safety of German coastal defenses and air cover. The only ship in range is the Ark Royal but in their first air sortie, they inadvertently attack HMS Sheffield when they mistake it for the Bismarck. In the second air sortie, they damage the Bismarck sufficiently to allow the surface fleet to catch up to her and sink her.
Written by garykmcd
Kenneth More ... Captain Shepard
Dana Wynter ... Anne Davis
Carl Möhner ... Captain Lindemann (as Carl Mohner)
Laurence Naismith ... First Sea Lord
Geoffrey Keen ... A.C.N.S.
Karel Stepanek ... Admiral Lutjens
Michael Hordern ... Commander-in-Chief - 'King George V'
Maurice Denham ... Commander Richards
Michael Goodliffe ... Captain Banister
Esmond Knight ... Captain - 'Prince of Wales'
Jack Watling ... Signals Officer
Jack Gwillim ... Captain - 'King George V' (as Jack Gwillam)
Mark Dignam ... Captain - 'Ark Royal'
Ernest Clark ... Captain - 'Suffolk'
John Horsley ... Captain - 'Sheffield'
Peter Burton ... Captain - First Destroyer
Sydney Tafler ... First Workman
John Stuart ... Captain - 'Hood'
Walter Hudd ... Admiral - 'Hood'
Sean Barrett ... Able Seaman Brown
Edward R. Murrow ... Himself
Michael Balfour ... Able Seaman - Lookout on 'Suffolk' (uncredited)
John Barron ... Officer P.R.O. (uncredited)
Victor Beaumont ... Officer on the 'Bismarck' (uncredited)
Brandon Brady ... Signal Officer on the 'Ark Royal' (uncredited)
Johnny Briggs ... Seaman (uncredited)
Robert Desmond ... Dexter (uncredited)
Walter Gotell ... Naval Officer (uncredited)
John G. Heller ... Officer on the 'Bismarck' (uncredited)
Ian Hendry ... Officer on 'King George V' (uncredited)
Ronald Hines ... Officer on Bridge of 'Prince of Wales' (uncredited)
Adolf Hitler ... Himself - at launch of 'Bismarck' (archive footage) (uncredited)
Glyn Houston ... Seaman on 'Prince of Wales' (uncredited)
Edward Judd ... Navigating Officer on 'Prince of Wales' (uncredited)
Sam Kydd ... Civilian Worker on 'Prince of Wales' (uncredited)
Ronald Leigh-Hunt ... Somers, Officer on 'King George V' (uncredited)
Harry Locke ... (uncredited)
Victor Maddern ... Able Seaman, Final Scene (uncredited)
Russell Napier ... Air Vice Marshal (uncredited)
Michael Ripper ... Able Seaman, Lookout 'Suffolk' (uncredited)
Michael Sarne ... Extra (uncredited)
Frederick Schiller ... Damage Control Officer (uncredited)
Graham Stark ... Petty Officer Williams (uncredited)
John Stride ... Tom Shepard - 'Ark Royal' Air Gunner (uncredited)
Ian Whittaker ... Able Seaman, Final Scene (uncredited)
Brian Worth ... Officer on First Destroyer (uncredited)
Edmund H. North StorY/Screenplay)
C.S. Forester (book)
* Prior to the release of the movie, a song of the same title sung by Johnny Horton was released in the United States to promote the film. This song never appears in the actual film. Excerpts from the song were used in the US trailer.
* The producers knew that the use of miniatures and explosions would have to look very realistic to be successful. They imported Howard Lydecker, one of the legendary Lydecker brothers who were generally considered to be the best special effects teams in the business and who had spent decades perfecting their craft at Republic Pictures, from the U.S.
* Esmond Knight who plays the captain of the HMS Prince of Wales actually served as an officer on board her and was injured during the battle.
* Kenneth More was offered The Guns Of Navarone because of this film.
* To increase the sense of realism, or "documentary feel", for this film, Edward R. Murrow was cast as himself. Murrow was one of the most famous and respected broadcast journalists of the era. He had covered the war in Europe, including the North Atlantic, and used his famous catchphrase "This is London..." Murrow also shot introductory footage for the film's trailer.
* According to special effects cinematographer L.B. Abbott, the miniatures were photographed with spherical (non-anamorphic) lenses. This made it easier to force the perspective of the image to make the miniatures appear bigger, and further apart. The conversion of the spherical footage to CinemaScope required the use of an optical printer with an anamorphic lens. This method of shooting with spherical lenses, yet converting the footage to anamorphic is now commonly used for complete films, and is called Super 35.
* Average Shot Length (ASL) = 7 seconds
* First film of 'Peter Ceiler'.
* Dana Wynter, the actress who plays Officer Anne Davis, was actually born in Berlin as Dagmar Winter.
* Able seaman (lookout, H.M.S. Suffolk) actually says "I wish someone would throw crumpet at me" (as opposed to "a" crumpet). This is a little 'double entendre' peculiar to British audiences: crumpet is a euphemism for "a sexual encounter" as in "she invited me over for tea and crumpet".
* This film's closing epilogue states: "This film was based upon actual operations against the German battleship, 'Bismarck'. Grateful acknowledgment is made to the Admiralty for their most generous help, advice and co-operation. The character called Captain Shepard is completely fictionalized and is in no way intended to depict Captain R.A.B. Edwards (now Admiral Sir Ralph Edwards, K.C.B. , C.B.E.) who was the actual Director of Operations at the time of the 'Bismarck' engagement."
* The movie utilized actual real battle footage.
* The opening of the film shows actual newsreel footage of the Bismarck ship when it was launched to a Nazi crowd in Hamburg, Germany, in 1938.
* Continuity: The ship models frequently turn the opposite way to that ordered by the ships' captains.
* Factual errors: Bismarck's antiaircraft guns never managed to shoot down a single British plane (the film depicts the battleship shooting down several), though it did score some hits.
* Errors in geography: When the Norwegian spy spots Bismarck exiting the Baltic Sea, Bismarck is heading the wrong direction. When viewed from Southern Norway, Bismarck should be headed east to west (left to right on screen), but the scene shows Bismarck heading right to left (west to east).
* Factual errors: The Spitfire searching for the Bismarck is shown as two different versions between shots. The "stock" footage of a flying Spitfire shows it with the flush cockpit canopy of an earlier version (Eg, Mark I-IV). The next studio-shot close-up shows the pilot sitting in a Spitfire with the "bubble" canopy of a later version (Eg, Mark XVI). Given the year is 1941, the stock flying footage is the more accurate.
* Anachronisms: In the aerial view of London in one of the opening shots, a Zebra Crossing can seen quite plainly. These types of road safety aids did not appear in the UK until 1951. And the skies over wartime London should have included Barrage Balloons.
* Continuity: Captain Shepard returns to his office (roughly in the middle of the movie). In a room off of his office you can see a bed (earlier in the movie there was a table and chair). Shepard then leaves his office and tells Commander Richards to have a bunk made up in the office.
* Revealing mistakes: In the battle, Lütjens and Lindemann are looking through binoculars completely covered with mist.
* Factual errors: In the film, Bismarck is attacked by British destroyers the night before she is shelled into a wreck by King George V and Rodney. Bismarck sinks one of the destroyers (the "Solent") after suffering torpedo damage. In the real battle, no British destroyers were sunk in this engagement and German sources indicate no torpedoes hit Bismarck during the destroyer attack.
* Factual errors: The characterization of Admiral Gunther Lutjens in this movie is wildly inaccurate. He is shown as a zealot, a fanatic, denying reality until the end. In fact, Lutjens was a thoughtful, even morose figure - some survivors claimed that his tendency for fatalism damaged their morale. Absurdly, on screen the Admiral tells his men to "remember you are Nazis!" Lutjens was not a nazi, and nor were the vast majority of his officers and crew.
* Factual errors: The Hood didn't explode quite as depicted in the movie. The explosion was initially reported as a jet of flame shooting into the air from between the mainmast and the aft funnel, in the vicinity of the engine room vent. Also, a number of witnesses reported that the Hood blew up without a sound.
* Factual errors: The battle of Iceland is 180 degrees in the wrong direction. The Bismarck is in the movie fighting over her right side (starboard) and the British battleships over their left side (port). In reality the Bismarck came from the North and had to fight over her port side. The British battleship came from the east and fought over their starboard side.
* Factual errors: Just before Hood received the fatal hit that blew her up, Captain Holland ordered a turn to port to give Hoods aft turrets better bearing on Bismarck. In the movie he orders a turn to starboard.
* Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): Prior to the German Admiral's rousing speech the crew are brought to attention. The officer shouts "Achtung". "Achtung" means attention as in a warning NOT as a drill instruction. The correct order should be "Stillgestanden".
* Factual errors: In the final battle between King George V and Rodney with the Bismarck, the movie shows that Bismarck begins the shooting. In the real battle the British starts the shooting and Bismarck responded several minutes later.
* Anachronisms: About half way into the film the HMS Arc Royal and HMS Victorious are mentioned. Close ups of flight deck operations included a shot that showed the hull number R06. "R" is a NATO designation that was not utilized until after WWII. R06 is the hull number for HMS Centaur which was not launched until 1947.
* Factual errors: During aircraft attacks on the Bismarck, close ups of anti-aircraft guns in action are British and not German. Other scenes(distant) of firing anti-aircraft guns show the correct locations of guns mounted on Bismarck.
* Factual errors: One scene showing a British torpedo plane taking off, no torpedo is visible. This type of aircraft, the "Swordfish", the torpedo is carried below the fuselage between the landing gear.
* Factual errors: There are various dialogues throughout the movie, referring to whether it is in fact day or night in the 'real world' above the bunker complex of Operational HQ. Although a most effective contrivance to convey to the audience just how physically isolated the War Room Staff must have felt in their underground world, this is a total conceit on the part of the scriptwriter/s. Organizing the destruction of the great Bismarck required extremely precise coordination of many of the Royal Navy's vast resources. In fact, timing to the minute if not the second was not just required, it was essential. Therefore, the staff involved and in particular Captain Shepherd would have known EXACTLY what time it was, day or night, at any given moment. Perhaps even better than the poor hapless souls above ground who were being constantly 'Blitzed' at that particular stage of WWII.
* Factual errors: The film shows Capt. Lindemann returning HMS Hood's fire after Hood's first salvo; in reality, Adm. Lutjens ordered Lindemann to hold his fire for over three minutes as the German ships closed the range - so long that Lindemann was overheard muttering under his breath, "I will not have my ship shot out from under my ass!"
* Factual errors: The film shows Capt. Lindemann dying on the Bismarck's bridge when it is struck by a British shell; however, many survivors recalled seeing him standing near the bow of the Bismarck as she rolled over and sank.
* Revealing mistakes: When Thomas Shepard stands up in the rear cockpit of his airplane searching for the Bismarck, the straps on his head gear remain steady, when they (and other parts of his uniform) should be moving as a result of the airstream.
* Continuity: When the British spy in Norway is transmitting his report via telegraph and the Germans break in and shoot him, the spy falls to the floor, he's able to hold on to the telegraph, his hand and the telegraph machine are right at the edge of the table. However, in the next seen, a closeup of the table where the telegraph is located, the spy continues to transmit his signal on the telegraph, but the telegraph machine is back in the middle of the table.
* Continuity: When the Dorsetshire torpedoes the Bismark at the end of the film it releases torpedoes from its starboard side starting with its stern tubes. Given the relative positions of the ships, this should mean that they strike the Bismark with the first torpedo hitting the front of the ship and last at the rear. But they do not: the first strike is at the rear of the Bismark and the last one at the front.
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
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