Ealing effects movie that was pretty big upon its release, but by today has become a bit forgotten.
I'm not entirely sure why. While in this post-modern age the how-on-earth-did-they-film-that question mark no longer hangs over it, this movie's sheer intensity still matches anything I see Hollywood coming out with today.
It's a war film, based upon true events from 1940, and released just three years later while the same war was still in progress. As you know, war is grim. As you also know, it's even grimmer at sea. And at night. In a storm. When you're stuck in a lifeboat for days on end...
Letting go of the non-stop impressive visuals for a moment, the soundtrack is more of a mixed bag. People outdoors give away their actual location on a studio set by the incessant echo behind them. Conversely, people who actually have been filmed outdoors lack footsteps. However these are things that we wave by soas to not lose hold of the spectacle of the film, which thankfully retains its starkness due to the absence of much incidental music.
Unlike the real-life seamen portrayed here, the names of many of the film's production team seem to have been lost to time, although I understand that Ealing's own Bob Vloeburgh was one of them.
San Demetrio London remains a classic, although one which I'd never heard of before.
On Remembrance Sunday, it's good to be reminded of the war heroes of the Merchant Navy too.
(available for shipping here)