Morning Departure (1950)

Morning Departure (1950), directed by Roy Ward Baker.

During naval exercises a submarine has a catastrophic encounter with an old mine and goes to the bottom with twelve men surviving. This is the story of the escape and rescue attempts.

In submarine movies when something goes wrong it is one damn thing after another. This one is realistic in its own way, but does not have the frenetic survival struggle of Das Boot (1981). It's more about the characters. The technical details of the diesel sub and emergency salvage operation are interesting and well done. It's all done with real gear.

This is something of a genre story in Britain, enacted in many films. The different types of men who serve in the Royal Navy and the different types of women who wait at home for them. The officers are mainly cool and competent, the seaman dutiful and enduring.

John Mills is the stalwart, unflinching captain. Richard Attenborough is the sad sack seaman who gets back on track during the disaster; it helps to have someone else to care for. Bernard Lee (later "M") and Kenneth More always look good in naval uniforms.

The movie was almost not released because after filming was completed the HMS Truculent had a similar disaster.