Sink the Bismarck! (1960) starring Kenneth More, Dana Wynter, Carl Möhner, Laurence Naismith, Geoffrey Keen, Karel Stepanek, Michael Hordern directed by Lewis Gilbert Movie Review

Sink the Bismarck! (1960)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kenneth More as Captain Jonathan Shepard in Sink the Bismarck! (1960)


"Sink the Bismarck!" is a war movie but one which is about events that happened during WWII rather than some fictionalized drama. It means that whilst it is still an entertaining movie full of great acting, emotion and some impressive special effects it is a movie which will appeal more to those whose interest is from a historical view point rather than someone purely seeking entertainment. I mentioned this purely for the fact that if you are here wondering whether or not you should watch "Sink the Bismarck!" it is worth knowing because if you are after war time action and adventure this maybe not it.

Now what is interesting about "Sink the Bismarck!" is that it almost feels low key as much of the movie focuses on the tactics and the work of the Admiralty in London. It is the control centre where the movie really starts as we meet Captain Jonathan Shepard, a veteran of war who is taking over as head of operations and is not happy at the relaxed way the control room operates. There is an importance to all this as it established Shepard as being cold and uncompromising as he shuts of all emotion even declaring there is no room for emotion during wartime but is faced to deal with his own emotions when certain things happen later on.

Dana Wynter as Anne Davis in Sink the Bismarck! (1960)

But after this set up what we get is basically the operations as information comes into the nerve centre as sightings of the Bismarck are confirmed and we see how they have to second guess what the mighty warship will do. At the same time we see that as they second guess they also have to work out a way to slow it down, attack and hopefully destroy it whilst the ships they send hopefully escape destruction. It makes "Sink the Bismarck!" almost a documentary style movie as if we are sitting in the operations room and observing what happened rather than observing some fictional drama.

Not everything takes place in the operations room and some of the drama happens out at sea as we see different view points from being on a British Destroyer knowing they are in danger when the Bismarck fires upon them to being on the Bismarck and the seemingly delusional Admiral Lutjens believing they are invincible. This is where the special effects come in and from torpedoes being fired to boats being hit, being on fire and sometimes blowing up it really captures your attention. And in doing so it also makes you realise the sacrifices the men made for their country and also the emotional strain placed upon parents and loved ones. It is in fact quite brilliant how for a movie which almost feels more interested in the tactics of how the Bismarck was destroyed that the emotional side still comes through.

Now most of the performances are good, Kenneth More once again proves himself in another military movie and really takes you aback by his coldness during the opening scenes. It means that as he relaxes and allows assistant Anne Davis through his emotional barrier we get to understand his character and Dana Wynter does a nice job of playing Anne, making her caring but natural. To be honest there for me is only one bad performance in the movie and that comes from Karel Stepanek who portrays Admiral Lutjens as a delusional fanatic who despite his rank seems obsessed on doing the opposite of common sense.

What this all boils down to is that "Sink the Bismarck!" is a very good war movie which delivers almost a documentary style look at how the British went about sinking the Bismarck. It does mean that this is a movie for those who are more interested in WWII than those who want purely entertaining war movies.