The Gift Horse aka Glory at Sea, In 1940, a mothballed American destroyer is commissioned in the Royal Navy. Her experienced Commanding Officer has had a checkered career and the crew are mostly lacking sea experience. A series of mishaps seem to dog the ship for some time, and the personal lives of the crew are turbulent, but at last the ship’s company make good and the destruction of a U-boat marks their first success. Now they are asked to volunteer for the most dangerous mission they will encounter.
Never Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth
This is the only film I know that dealt with Anglo-American destroyers for naval base leases trade that Roosevelt and Churchill made before America entered World War II. Monetary transactions were forbidden by the Neutrality Act so FDR came up with the idea to give up 50 aged American destroyers in turn for leases on naval bases the British had in the Western Hemisphere. This was the precursor of Lend Lease.
Trevor Howard plays the captain of a crew taking over one of these ships and remember the ships are old. But as he said addressing his crew it was good to remember that old expression about never looking a gift horse in the mouth. He plays the part well in the best stiff upper lip tradition. Supporting Howard are James Donald, Richard Attenborough and over from America, Sonny Tufts.
Good easy to take war film about a little remembered historical event and the old gift horse does meet a gallant end.
Enjoyable, understated war film
The film has some elements of truth to it. The original destroyer concerned was USS Buchanan, renamed in the Royal Navy HMS Campbelltown. This ship did indeed carry out the raid on St Nazaire, in March 1942. The purpose was to prevent the use of the dock by the German battleship Tirpitz in case she should ever breakout into the Atlantic. It was the only dock outside Germany which could accommodate the ship.One scene stands out for me in the film. It takes place in ex boxer Sid James’s pub where some of the crew of our ship are relaxing. A crew of another ship starts to wind them up and this leads to a fight. However, we don’t see this fight. As it begins, a bell goes off like the bell at the start of a boxing match. At the same time, the camera focuses on a photo of Sid in his boxing days, one of many which adorn the walls of his pub. Then as the fight ensues, the camera fixes on other boxing pictures from the wall as each blow is struck. Very enjoyable!