Film: Sink the Bismarck

A 1960 World War II drama, based on the novel, The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck, by C. S. Forester. During the Battle Of The Atlantic, Britain must fight alone as Nazi Germany sends out its most powerful battleship to hunt the supply convoys that the country needs to survive. In command of the operation is Captain Jonathan Shepard (Kenneth More), a by-the-book commander and disciplinarian who prosecutes the fight heedless of the feelings of his subordinates.

Has nothing to do with the Real Life Gargle Blaster from BrewDog Brewery.


This Film Contains Examples of:

  • All Germans Are Nazis: Played straight by the commander of the Bismarck, Admiral Lutjens. When giving a speech to his crew before departure he reminds his men, "Never forget that you are Germans! Never forget that you are Nazis!" In Real Life, Admiral Lutjens was far from an enthusiastic supporter of the Nazi party: during his time as the Kriegsmarine's chief of personnel he ignored the infamous Nuremburg Laws, wrote a letter of protest to the head of the Navy regarding Kristallnacht, deliberately greeted everyone up to and including Hitler himself with the traditional German naval salute instead of the Nazi salute, and wore his Imperial Navy dagger on his Kriegsmarine uniform because it didn't have the swastika emblem.
  • As Himself: Legendary news broadcaster Edward R Murrow no less!
  • Battle Epic
  • The Big Board: Well, a big table.
  • Casting Gag: Esmond Knight plays Captain John Leach of the Prince of Wales. Knight was a crewman serving on the bridge of the Prince of Wales during the Battle of the Denmark Strait and was badly injured when the bridge was hit by Bismarck's gunfire. Gag seems an inappropriate term, really.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Done inadvertently by the Bismarck when she sinks the Hood in one salvo, then later when the Bismarck's rudder is damaged by a torpedo and she can only circle as the British ships rip her apart
  • Friend Or Foe: A British cruiser is mistaken for the Bismarck and nearly torpedoed by the Ark Royal's' bombers.
  • Heroic BSOD: Even the Germans are shocked when the Hood explodes. The British are completely thrown.
  • History Marches On: The film makes no reference to the signals intelligence that played a vital role in the Royal Navy's hunt for the Bismarck for the very good reason that said intelligence's very existence was still an official secret.
    • The film was made decades before the wrecks of the Bismarck and Hood were located; the condition of the Bismarck wreck confirmed the conventional narrative, the condition of the Hood wreck contradicted several theories about her loss.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Footage of the Spitfire that initially locates the Bismarck alternates between wide shots of a period correct aircraft and cockpit closeups showing a bubble canopy, a feature not introduced until later in the war.
  • It's Personal: Captain Shepard's last command at sea was sunk by one of Admiral Lutjen's cruisers.
  • Newsreel: The film opens with newsreel footage of the Bismarck being launched. A short time later, more footage (of U-boat attacks) accompanies exposition by Edward R. Murrow.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Subverted early, as Shepard strips protection from convoys to search for the Bismarck.
  • Not So Stoic: Shepard, who finally shows some human emotion when he breaks down weeping after getting the news that his son was found alive after being reported MIA.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Captain Shepard, who hides the pain of his wife's death behind a mask of formality and a dose of Drill Sergeant Nasty.
  • The Spock: Shepherd
  • Stock Footage: Used in a number of instances, such as for the air attacks.
  • The Strategist: Shepherd
  • Those Magnificent Flying Machines: The only torpedo bomber the British had at the time was the Fairey Swordfish, a fragile looking two-seat biplane. Which went up against the biggest battleship in the German fleet and crippled her enough to allow the surface fleet to finish her off.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Bismark's political officer gets a REALLY big one during the final battle, having been given reassurance (false as it ended up being) that Germany will send support to the crippled Bismark, and thus is muttering about having been promised support by Hitler himself and how the Bismark is unsinkable right up to the moment a lucky British shot blows up the Bismark's bridge, killing him and the rest of the crew.
  • The Voice: Prime Minister Winston Churchill when he gives the Title Drop.
  • The War Room: The Admiralty's Operations Room.
  • World War II

Alternative Title(s):

Sink The Bismarck