Based on fact, Michael Anderson’s Oscar-nominated filmThe Dam Busterstells the tale of an extraordinary genius and a group of extremely brave men. At the height of the Second World War, when the plan was to use Bomber Command to take the battle to the enemy, one idea was to destroy dams in the Ruhr region, the armaments heartland of Nazi Germany. However, conventional bombing couldn’t breach the walls. Scientist Dr Barnes Wallis (Michael Redgrave) solved the problem with his famous bouncing bomb and, despite initial Whitehall scepticism, he eventually proved that it worked.
The next step was to deliver it. Guy Gibson led a 617 Squadron of Lancasters on the raid, using stunningly simple technology to judge height and release point, and two dams were breached. History suggests that disruption was, in fact, relatively minor. But as the film makes clear, Wallis’s genius and the bravery of Gibson and his men, many of whom perished in the raid, struck a blow against the Nazis as psychological as it was physical, while raising morale on the home front. Redgrave portrays Wallis as a man dedicated to his task, railing against red tape, while Todd’s portrayal of Gibson is, if a little stiff-upper lip (and with a very non-PC named dog), still strong enough for the last action-packed third of the film. An archetypal post-war British film but one that is now an enduring classic.
UK / 124 minutes / 1955
Writers:R C Sherriff, from Paul Brickhill and Guy Gibson’s books,
Richard Todd as Wing Commander Guy Gibson, V.C., D.S.O., D.F.C.
Richard Leech as Squadron Leader H. M. Young, D.F.C.
Michael Redgrave as Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
Robert Shaw as Flt / Sgt. J. Pulford, D.F.M.
Nigel Stock as Flying / Off. F. M. Spafford, D.F.C., D.F.M.
Derek Farr as Group Captain J. N. H. Whitworth, D.S.O., D.F.C.
Colin Tapley as Doctor W.H. Glanville, C.B., C.B.E.
Basil Sydney as Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris G.C.B., O.B.E., A.F.C.
Ursula Jeans as Mrs. Wallis
Charles Carson as Doctor
George Baker as Flight Lieutenant D. J. H. Maltby, D.S.O., D.F.C.
Stanley Van Beers as Sir David Pye, C.B., F.R.S.
Ernest Clark as Air Vice-Marshal The Hon. Ralph Cochrane G.B.E., K.C.B., A.F.C.
Frank Phillips as BBC Announcer
Brewster Mason as Flt / Lt. R. D. Trevor-Roper, D.F.C., D.F.M.
Tony Doonan as Flt / Lt. R. E. G. Hutchison, D.F.C.
Brian Nissen as Flt / Lt. A. T. Taerum, D.F.C.
Richard Thorp as Squadron Leader H. E. Maudslay, D.F.C.
Harold Siddons as Group Signals Officer
Frederick Leister as Committee Member
Eric Messiter as Committee Member
Laidman Browne as Committee Member
Patrick Barr as Captain Joseph (Mutt) Summers, C.B.E.
Bill Kerr as Flight Lieutenant H. B. Martin, D.S.O., D.F.C., A.F.C.
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