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Sink The Bismarck

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In February 1939, Nazi Germany's most powerful battleship, Bismarck, is launched, beginning a new era of German sea power. In May 1941, British naval intelligence discovers Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen are about to sail into the North Atlantic to attack Allied convoys. From an underground war room in London, Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More) coordinates the hunt for the dreaded Bismarck. The two German warships encounter HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales in the Denmark Strait, and the four warships engage in a deadly gun duel. The battle results in the annihilation and violent disintegration of the Hood, shocking combatants on both sides. Prince of Wales is alone and is fired on by the two German ships. She manages to inflict damage on Bismarck's bow, but Bismarck returns fire, destroying the Prince of Wales' bridge. Prince of Wales emits a smoke screen behind which to retreat. Bismarck and Prinz Eugen also retreat, but they are shadowed by the cruisers HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk using radar. Later, Prinz Eugen breaks away and heads towards the port of Brest, in occupied France, while Bismarck turns and fires at the British cruisers to provide cover as she escapes. The attack forces the cruisers to retreat. An air assault from the carrier HMS Victorious damages Bismarck's fuel tanks, but the vessel is otherwise largely undamaged.

Back at London's operations headquarters, Captain Shepard gambles that Admiral Gunther Lütjens, the Fleet Commander aboard Bismarck, has ordered a return to friendly waters where U-boats and air cover will make it impossible to attack. He plans to intercept and attack the German vessel before she reaches safety. Shepard commits a disproportionately large force to the search, and his wager pays off when Bismarck is located steaming toward the French coast. British forces have a narrow time window in which to destroy or slow their prey before German support and their own diminishing fuel supplies will preclude further attacks. Swordfish torpedo planes from HMS Ark Royal have two chances. The first fails when the pilots misidentify HMS Sheffield as Bismarck, but thankfully their new magnetic torpedo detonators are faulty, with most exploding as soon as they hit the sea. Returning to the carrier and changing to conventional contact exploders, their second attack, this time on the Bismarck, is successful. One torpedo causes only minor damage; but a catastrophic second hit near the stern jams the German battleship's rudder.

Unable to repair the rudder, Bismarck steams in circles. During the night two British destroyers attack the crippled battleship with torpedoes. One hits, but Bismarck returns fire, sinking the destroyer HMS Solent. The main force of British ships, including battleships HMS Rodney and HMS King George V, find Bismarck the next day and rain shells upon her. Lütjens insists that German forces will arrive to save them, but he is killed when a shell strikes Bismarck's bridge. The remaining bridge officers are killed and the crew abandon their sinking ship. On board King George V, Admiral John Tovey orders the newly joined cruiser HMS Dorsetshire to finish Bismarck off. The cruiser fires torpedoes at the German battleship, causing the vessel to sink faster than her crew can escape. The captain of King George V, Wilfrid Patterson, lowers his head as Bismarck disappears beneath the waves. Admiral Tovey orders Dorsetshire to pick up survivors, finally saying tersely: "Well, gentlemen, let's go home."


DIRECTOR(s): Lewis Gilbert







Kenneth More (Captain Jonathan Shepard)
Dana Wynter (WRNS Second Officer Anne Davis)
Carl Möhner (Captain Lindemann - 'Bismarck')
Laurence Naismith (First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound)
Geoffrey Keen (Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff [A.C.N.S.])
Karl Stepanek (Admiral Lutjens - 'Bismarck')
Michael Hordern (Commander-in-Chief - 'King George')
Maurice Denham (Commander Richards)
Michael Goodliffe (Captain Banister)
Esmond Knight (Captain Leach - 'Prince of Wales')
Jack Watling (RNVR Signals Officer)
Jack Gwillim (Captain Wilfrid Patterson - 'King George V')
Mark Dignam (Captain Maund - 'Ark Royal')
Ernest Clark (Captain Ellis - 'Suffolk')
John Horsley (Captain - 'Sheffield')
Peter Burton (Captain Philip Vian - 4th Destroyer of Flotilla)

John Stuart (Captain Kerr - 'Hood')
Walter Hudd (Admiral Holland - 'Hood')
Sydney Tafler ('Prince of Wales')
Sean Barrett (Able Seaman Brown)
Thomas Waldron Price (Flag Lieutenant to First Sea Lord)
Edward R. Murrow (Himself - Edward R. Murrow)
John Stride (Cpt Shepard's son - TAG - Ark Royal's Swordfish Squadron)
Peter Dyneley (Commander Jenkins [uncredited])
Victor Maddern (Able Seaman Outside Admiralty [uncredited])
David Hemmings (Seaman - 'Ark Royal' [uncredited])
Johnny Briggs (Seaman - 'Prince of Wales' [uncredited])
Norman Shelley (Voice of Winston Churchill [uncredited])
John Barron (Officer P.R.O [uncredited])
Harold Goodwin (Airman on Phone [uncredited])
Ian Hendry (Meteorological Officer on 'King George V [uncredited])

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Updated - 05/05/2024