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Sink the Bismarck!

Those used to the blood-soaked modern war movie may find 1960's Sink the Bismarck! a bit on the dull side — it's the kind of film one imagines older gun collectors might enjoy. The picture tells the true story of how, in 1941, England found themselves threatened by the Nazis' powerful battleship The Bismarck, and thus planned a desperate mission to sink her — no matter what the cost. The story is then told from the novel perspective of the officers who made the decisions in the war room, instead of following ordinary sailors and foot-soldiers, giving the film a more bird's eye view of the events. Most of these decisive orders come from Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More), who has recently gone through some traumatic family events — and whose son is on one of the boats sent out to sink the Bismarck. Meanwhile, Second Officer Anne Davis (Dana Wynter) also has suffered a family tragedy. It's a tough battle to sink the Bismarck, especially since the Brits are facing the German Capt. Lindemann (Carl Mohner), who knows what his ship means to his country. Directed by Lewis Gilbert (best known for his work on the James Bond films), Sink the Bismarck! seems structured not around the story itself but the film's dated stock footage and miniature effects; using real war footage was an old practice at the time, but the well-marked grain and blotches makes it hard to ignore. However, the biggest problem with the film is that, for a movie about how much effort went into sinking the Bismarck, there's little in the way of cat-and-mouse stratagems or turnabouts, and thus it's never all that thrilling. There's also little suspense surrounding the Bismarck's eventual fate. Perhaps the most interesting thing to be found are brief appearances by Edward R. Murrow, who serves as a radio announcer and narrator for the film. Fox's DVD release of Sink the Bismarck! presents a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with audio in either mono or stereo on DD 2.0 tracks. Extras include a Movietone News segment, two trailers for this film, and bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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