The Ship that Died of Shame
The Ship that Died of Shame – 1955 | 95 mins | Drama | B&W
Basil Dearden‘s The Ship that Died of Shame, apart from following what now seemed a tedious fashion for lengthy, gnomic titles, began in a promising Ealing vein as if it was going to be a war film, but developed into a story highlighting the problems of servicemen trying to adjust to the difficulties of civilian life. By 1955 such a theme had become dated and irrelevant – another case of Ealing failing to take into account the shift in attitudes. The script, by John Whiting, Michael Relph and Basil Dearden, was adapted from a novel by Nicholas Monsarrat, the author of The Cruel Sea.
The film was an uneasy coupling of a routine thriller story with the sentimental notion of the ship with a soul, the concept of the crew from a British gunboat joining together and buying their old vessel, only to use it for a smuggling operation might appeal to a few nautical experts but seemed bewildering and absurd to the great mass of landlubbers. The most successful of the performers was Richard Attenborough who attacked the role of a bumptious, small-time crook with relish. George Baker as the ship’s skipper, on the other hand, held himself in check to the point of stiflement.
Extract© George Perry: Forever Ealing.
Basil Dearden: Director
Bernard Robinson: Art Direction
Gordon Dines: Cinematography
Peter Bezencenet: Editing
William Alwyn: Music
Michael Relph: Producer
John Whitling: Script
Michael Relph: Script
Basil Dearden: Script