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Cockleshell Heroes, The (1955, Trevor Howard, José Ferrer)



In The Cockleshell Heroes, after negotiating with Captain Thompson (Trevor Howard) over methodology, Major Stringer (José Ferrer) trains ten marines to paddle cockleshell canoes to Bordeaux in order to break the blockade of the French port by clamping limpet mines to the German ships. The acknowledged danger is illustrated by the result: only two return.

The Puerto Rican actor directed seven movies in succession between 1955 and 1962, most successfully I Accuse!, a most unlikely, but very successful, remake of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical State Fair. This was his second attempt, for which he came to Britain and worked with British actors and crew and the American screenwriter Richard Maibaum, who had recently relocated to London for tax reasons and stayed there to become house writer on the James Bond movies. The project is most notable for its heavily researched and realistically shot sequences of training, which take up much of the screen time.

production details
UK / 97 minutes / 1955

Director: José Ferrer
Writers: Bryan Forbes, Richard Maibaum, from the book by George Kent,

Trevor Howard as Captain Thompson
José Ferrer as Major Stringer
Anthony Newley as Marine Clarke
Percy Herbert as Marine Lomas
David Lodge as Marine Ruddock
Graham Stewart as Marine Booth
John Van Eyssen as Marine Bradley
Robert Desmond as Marine Todd
Walter Fitzgerald as Gestapo Comdt.
Beatrice Campbell as Mrs Ruddock
Sydney Tafler as Policeman
Christopher Lee as Submarine Commander Alan Grieves
Peter Arne as Marine Stevens
Dora Bryan as Myrtie
Karel Stepanek as Assistant Gestapo Officer
Victor Maddern as Sgt. Craig
John Fabian as Marine Cooney