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Silent Enemy, The (Romulus 1958, Laurence Harvey, Dawn Addams)

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In The Silent Enemy Lithuanian-born Laurence Harvey (born Larushka Mischa Skikne) stars as the real-life British navy frogman Lieutenant Crabb, whose Second World War exploits against the Italians earned him the George Medal. Crabb vanished in 1956 while diving in Portsmouth Harbour, investigating the Russian cruiser Ordzhonikidze . His headless corpse was later found in Chichester Harbour, leading to various theories, amongst them that Crabb was still alive and that he was a double agent working for both the British and the Russians. The film, however, deals only with his wartime experiences in Gibraltar in 1941, when he was sent to tackle the Italian ‘menace’ striking at Allied shipping in the area. He joins forces with Michael Craig’s Leading Seaman Knowles to commandeer an Italian midget submarine, pack it with explosives and guide it into the Italian operating base in Algeciras in neutral Spain.

The film is impressively free of the usual high-flown heroics and jingoism of the genre and, while emerging as a first-rate adventure yarn, it also succeeds in demonstrating that war is tragic for the participants on both sides. Harvey’s role is tailor-made for him and he gave a very well-judged performance so that Crabb emerges as both credible and human. He is well supported by Craig and Alec McCowen as his two assistants, and John Clements – in a relatively rare screen appearance – scores as an understanding Admiral. Excellent comic relief comes from the reliable Sidney James.

production details
UK | Romulus | minutes | 1958

Writer and Director: William Fairchild, based on the book Commander Crabb by Marshall Pugh
Cinematography: Egil Woxholt, Otto Heller
Music: William Alwyn
Producer: Bertram Ostrer

cast
Lee Montague as Miguel’s Mate
Howard Marion-Crawford as Wing Commander
Brian Oulton as Holford
Sid James as Chief Petty Officer Thorpe
Nigel Stock as Able Seaman Fraser
Terence Longdon as Lt Bailey
Jack May as
John Lee as Flag Lt.
John Clements as The Admiral
Harold Siddons as Army Interrogation Officer
Dawn Addams as Third Officer Jill Masters, W.R.N.S
Ewen Solon as Willowdale Captain
Yvonne Romain as
Laurence Harvey as Lieutenant “Buster” Crabb, R.N.V.R.
Michael Craig as Leading Seaman Knowles
Alec McCowen as Able Seaman Morgan
Ian Whittaker as Ordinary Seaman Thomas
Arnoldo Foà as Tomolino
Gianna Maria Canale as Conchita
Massimo Serato as Forzenelli
Giacomo Rossi-Stuart as Rosati
Carlo Giustini as Fellini
Raymond Young as Celloni
David Lodge as Sergeant
Cyril Shaps as Miguel
Ian MacNaughton as Admiralty Sentry
Alan Webb as British Consul
John Moffatt as Diver
Michael Brill as Naval Interrogation Officer
Derren Nesbitt as