Dam Busters

The Dam Busters

Director: Michael Anderson

Cast: Michael Anderson, Richard Todd, Michael Redgrave, Ursula Jeans

     
 
Michael Anderson's The Dam Busters (1955) was, for many Americans (including a young George Lucas), the quintessential postwar British war movie -- it was not only a decent sized box office hit at the time of its release but, as a result of its 102 minute US running time, the movie was perfect for two-hour time-slots on American television once it was licensed

Overview

Michael Anderson's The Dam Busters (1955) was, for many Americans (including a young George Lucas), the quintessential postwar British war movie -- it was not only a decent sized box office hit at the time of its release but, as a result of its 102 minute US running time, the movie was perfect for two-hour time-slots on American television once it was licensed for broadcast at the start of the 1960's; and with Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd in the leading roles, it had enough star power to qualify as a major motion picture in those days. The movie, a cold, cool, but dramatically satisfying re-enactment of the May 1943 Royal Air Force mission to cripple German industry by destroying the Ruhr Valley dams, never made it to laserdisc on either side of the Atlantic, and has scarcely been seen on channels other than American Movie Classics and The History Channel, so this release marks its first wide availability on home video and also the first wide distribution in the US of the full-length British cut, all 125 minutes of it. In the process, we get the complete vision of director Anderson (who spent two years researching this project before he began shooting), including his reverence -- in good, respectable dramatic terms -- for the applied science involved in the mission, and also for the two men at its core. When we first glimpse Richard Todd as Guy Gibson, the move of the camera shows just how much reverence he was held in as a war hero (lost on a subsequent mission) at the time, and Todd does a masterful job of humanizing a legend. Basil Sydney does similarly well by his portrayal of Air Chief Marshal Arthur Harris, but the dramatic core of the movie -- beyond the mission itself -- lies with Redgrave as Dr. Barnes Wallis, who devised the bombs that breached the dams. The movie itself looks and sounds glorious -- there is one moment about 32 minute in when we get signs of some frame repair, but otherwise this is note perfect. The quality of the film-to-video transfer is such that the super-imposed special effects in the bombing scene now really show their age, but other aspects of the special effect hold up surprisingly well. Additionally, those watching the climactic raid can be forgiven if it reminds them of a more recent genre movie -- George Lucas has admitted that he was heavily influenced by The Dam Busters (one of his favorite movies) in devising the attack on the Death Star in the denouement of Star Wars. The 20 chapters are well chosen in terms of breaking the movie down dramatically. The disc opens automatically on a simple menu with the "play" option in the default position. There are no other special features, but the movie is pretty special by itself.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Dam Busters is an exciting, realistic war procedural film, in which the primary obstacle to success is bureaucratic intransigence rather than the hostile forces of the enemy. Aided greatly by R. C. Sherriff's uncommonly intelligent, accurate screenplay, the story successfully depicts the inspired obsession of scientists, as well as the more low-key, interpersonal relationships within the R.A.F. bomber squadron. Though dated by current technological standards, the special effects are quite good for a mid-1950s production; Eric Coates' music fits the film's mood superbly.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/17/2006
UPC:
0013131494198
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Starz / Anchor Bay
Region Code:
1
Time:
2:05:00

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Todd Wing Cmdr. Guy Gibson
Michael Redgrave Dr. Barnes N. Wallis
Ursula Jeans Mrs. Wallis
Stanley van Beers Sir David Pye
Derek Farr Group Capt. J.N.H. Whitworth
Raymond Huntley Official from Ministry of Aircraft
Patrick Barr Capt. Joseph Summers
John Fraser Flight Lt. Hopgood
Basil Sydney Sir Arthur Harris
Ernest Clark AVM Ralph Cochrane
Laurence Naismith Farmer
Brewster Mason Flt/Lt. R.D. Trevor-Roper
Anthony Doonan Flight Lt. Hutchison
Nigel Stock Flight Lt. Spafford
George Baker Flight Lt. Maltby
Frank Phillips BBC Announcer
Charles Carson Doctor
Colin Tapley Dr. W.H. Glanville
Frederick Leister Committee Member
Eric Messiter Committee Member
Laidman Browne Committee Member
Edwin Styles Observers at Trials
Hugh Moxey Observers at Trials
Anthony Shaw R.A.F. Officer at Trials
Harold Siddons Group Signals Officer
Brian Nissen Flt/Lt. A.T. Taerum
Robert Shaw Flight Sgt. Pulford
Richard Leech Sqd Ldr. H.M. Young
Richard Thorp Sqd Ldr. H.F. Maudslay
Bill Kerr Flight Lt. Martin
Denys Graham Flying/Off. L.G. Knight
Basil Appleby Flt/Lt. R.C. Hay
Tim Turner Flt/Lt. J.P. Leggo
Ewen Solon Flt/Sgt. G.E. Powell
Harold Goodwin Crosby
Patrick McGoohan Guard on Door

Technical Credits
Michael Anderson Director
Richard Best Editor
Robert Clark Producer
Eric Coates Score Composer
Erwin Hillier Cinematographer
Louis Levy Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Leighton Lucas Score Composer
Robert Jones Production Designer
R.C. Sherriff Screenwriter
Gilbert Taylor Special Effects
W.A. Whittaker Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Dam Busters
1. Main Titles [2:01]
2. House Call [7:38]
3. Weapons Testing [9:14]
4. Military Approval [5:12]
5. Two Months Until May [4:44]
6. Wing Commander [5:31]
7. Training [5:53]
8. The Targets [6:07]
9. A Night at the Theatre [6:55]
10. Trial Run [4:51]
11. Wishing on the New Moon [6:51]
12. The Mission [11:44]
13. Waiting [5:25]
14. Take Off! [6:37]
15. Enemy Coast Ahead [5:03]
16. Hostile Territory [3:49]
17. Bombing Runs [8:54]
18. Dam Busters [10:36]
19. Hero's Run [6:38]
20. End Credits [1:12]

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