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Combat - WWII

Hell Boats (1970)

Duration1h 35m
RatingsUK: A, USA: PG-13, Sweden: 15
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorPaul Wendkos
Writers/ScriptAnthony Spinner, Donald Ford, Derek Ford
StarringJames Franciscus, Elizabeth Shepherd, Ronald Allen, Phillip Madoc, Moultrie Kelsall
RatingsIMDb: 5.3 by 374 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: No reviews .

Elevator Pitch: Lt Cdr Jeffords, an American allowed to serve in the RN due, apparently, to having an English mother, is put in command of the flotilla of MTBs operating out of Malta, taking on the German Eboats in 1942. He has been given the task of destroying a German base on Sicily which is a store for some guided bombs. He is at odds with some of his crews due to his disregard for human life and is also opposed by the base commander a strait-laced officer with a discontented wife. Jeffords carries out a recon on Sicily assisted by the resistance, and thereafter captures an Eboat to fulfil is plan, but is it a suicide mission?

Content: There is no nudity, even though it is talked about, and no sex, not talked about. The MTBs go on missions and exchange gunfire with the EBoats. Malta airfield is dive-bombed when Jeffords arrives in a DC3. Many slightly prickly meetings between the base commander and Jeffords. The crews work away on their boats on the quayside. The officers attend parties in immaculate white shorts and shirts. The British capture an Eboat. There are a lot of explosions.

A View: MTBs were part of the Royal Navy Coastal Forces, this film being one of only two featuring the force. Basically, it is a bit of an insult to those who  actually served in the Coastal Forces in WWII, particularly that it might have taken an American to carry out the daring raid on the German base. MTBs were in reality involved in some raids on European ports, with heavy casualties. But this is not about the film, which is terrible. It is not quite a Don’t See, because it has a bit of historic significance, but if you decide to watch it be prepared to be irritated.

Additional Info: According to the experts, the MTBs (Motor Torpedo Boats) are actually MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) with torpedo tubes added.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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