The Dam Busters

1955

Drama / History / War

4
IMDb Rating 0 10 0

Synopsis


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Cast

Patrick McGoohan as Guard on Door
Robert Shaw as Flt / Sgt. J. Pulford, D.F.M.
Michael Redgrave as Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C.

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Reaper Man 8 / 10

Tally-Ho!(etc.)

By God, this is as definitive as a war film gets. It's on every year, and is as much a part of Christmas as getting drunk and Monopoly. Everyone in this Sceptred isle knows the theme to Dam Busters, and it causes more people to stand up and salute than God Save The Queen. It has moustachioed R.A.F boys, politely bespectacled scientists, laughable special effects, and an entirely predictable ending. It's a British institution, and I don't know where we'd be without it. You can keep your devolution and your New Labour, I've got Dam Busters and I'm not bloody budging.

Reviewed by Robert J. Maxwell 7 / 10

Effective and exciting British war movie.

This film recounts an historical incident in which about two dozen British Lancasters delivered specially designed bombs that destroyed two important dams supplying water and hydroelectric power to the industrial area of the Ruhr. It sticks fairly close to the facts and it doesn't meander about. No rivalries over women in the pub. No women at all, practically. There is one brawl between fliers but it's a good-natured free-for-all in which everyone wrestles and laughs and no one throws a punch. The whole film is constructed around that cheerful exuberance. Everyone is anxious to take on this dangerous job. Nobody weeps. And when the bomb's designer hears of the mission's success, he grins widely and flaps his arms against his side as others congratulate him. And that's it.

The film is really divided into two parts. In the first, we follow the man who designed the plan and the bomb to go with it, Barnes Wallace, played as an abstracted but determined boffin. (He also designed a couple of bombers.) In order to hit the dam and sink to the proper depth before exploding, the bomb must be dropped from 60 feet at a designated speed and a specified distance from the target -- and at night, too. The film tells us that much but leaves out the fact that the bomb had to have a reverse spin of 500 rpm at the time of release, so the project was still more challenging. It's almost inconceivable that such a mission could be pulled off.

In the second part of the film, Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) and his fliers train to the point of exhaustion before undertaking the mission, which is about as deadly as can be imagined. Fifty-six men failed to return. (Gibson was killed on a later mission.) The climactic action scenes are well done, if the events themselves are a little turgid. At times it's a little difficult to follow what's happening and who exactly is involved, though the general sense gets through. Two of the three target dams were destroyed, flooding the valleys downstream, but the dams were up and running again about five weeks later. More than 1200 people were killed on the ground, mainly allied POWs. Spectacular raids often make for good drama but the results, if the missions are successful, are often temporary. (Eg., Ploesti.) The enemy has a habit of fixing things that are damaged. It seems, depending on the particular targets, that you either have to pulverize them or attack them repeatedly, and even then the enemy adapts.

None of this, these nettles of realism, can possibly reflect on the courage of Gibson and his colleagues. The decorations they earned were more than deserved. And none of this should make a viewer hesitate before seeing the movie. It's done in a grand style, though, to be sure, the special effects are of the period.

The Avro Lancaster, by the way, may have been the finest heavy bomber of the war. It wasn't particularly fast, it was lightly armed, and it was as ugly as sin, but it carried an enormous bomb load, was versatile, and handled like a fighter. A test pilot managed to put one through a barrel roll.

The acting doesn't really need too much comment. Michael Redgrave is very good. Richard Todd marches around and makes up-beat comments like a military man, which he was. A good war movie, and recommended.

Reviewed by richardjohnmalin 10 / 10

Low budget sceptics be DamnBusted

This film is a classic. I don't mean that in "Gone with the wind" terms or Orson Welles directed so and so. No, what I am saying is that you should appreciate this film for a value it contains that is really a pure watchability factor. A nine year old kid on the edge of his seat desperately wanting to inform both parents of the enjoyment he was having. His moment. His crucial awareness of everything in his mind that was WWII. Except his dad was working late shift and his mum had popped out for a while, probably nothing important. So he had to do it alone, gripped tightly while the main plot ideas filtered through, the physics behind the dam attacks and the character interaction emerged. Then sadness, heart wrenching sadness (SORRY SPOILER AHEAD>)the Group Captains' dog got run over. Can you imagine the emotions running through a nine year old at the time? Anyway these things are quickly forgotten when we are at war with Germany so the DamBusting build up was anticipated and enjoyed. And this is the whole point. Please don't knock this film on allegedly poor special effects. It was made in (just) post war Britain when money was hard to come by, and let's face it that was a less enlightened age. Modern criticism is easy in retrospect. No, just get yourself a copy, sit back and enjoy a true piece of genuine, unpretentious escapism. And if you don't already know- it's based pretty closely on a true story. The music's rather good too. Just ask somebody who was around then. I rated this film one of the best. I gave it 10/10

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