Movie Diary 5/29/2018

The Sea Shall Not Have Them (Lewis Gilbert, 1953). Four members of a downed RAF plane loll in a liferaft while a determined-but-luckless Air Sea Rescue boat searches for them in the English Channel fog. Very effective all the way around, with a sterling cast and crisp forward motion that brings it in at 91 minutes. It’s one of the postwar British films that paints the war effort as far from flawless – there are stupidities and ineptitudes on display. But mostly it’s a well-run suspense film about keeping calm (especially as regards one nervous survivor) and carrying, you know, on. The men in the raft include Michael Redgrave, Dirk Bogarde, and Bonar Colleano (Canadian military in this one); piloting the rescue boat is Anthony Steel, and Nigel Patrick has a juicy supporting role. Playing the seasick medic on his first trip across is Ian Whittaker, an actor who specialized in youthful roles before becoming an Oscar-winning set decorator and art director. I met Ian when I was giving lectures on a cruise ship a couple of years ago, and enjoyed hearing his moviemaking stories and sharing Christmas Eve dinner (and New Year’s Eve too, once my wife had joined the cruise). He could have made a long career as an actor, but things seemed to work out nicely for him. The Oscar was for Howards End.

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