Having already reviewed the Christopher Nolan film of the same name I thought it high time I took a look at the 1958 version of Dunkirk. This one has a whole host of familiar faces including John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee. This one is in black and white and gives off that classic Second World War vibe that only can be achieved from films made back then. I loved the 2017 film as it came from one of my favourite directors but having seen the 1958 film I already know this is also an excellent take on one of the most talked about parts of WWII. So without further ado here’s my Dunkirk (1958) Blu-ray Review.
- Dunkirk (1958)
- Genre: War / Action Drama
- Running Time: 134 Mins
- UK Rating PG
- Discs 1
- Released By Studiocanal
- Blu-ray Released: 25 September 2017
Dunkirk is the story of the most unlikely successful evacuation of over 300,000 British troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, France against all odds. The Germans have the British and French troops trapped with only the sea at their backs. The Luftwaffe are sent in to wipe them out but an unlikely set of heroes consisting of flotilla of small ships and vessels set sail from England to rescue the troops and keep Britain and the world in the fight against the Germans. A group of British soldiers finds themselves detached from the rest of their unit with the German army closing in. They attempt to find their way back to safety but is the town/beaches of Dunkirk really any safer?
Style / Direction
The film is directed by Leslie Norman with the cinematography side of things taken care of by Paul Beeson.
Music / Audio Effects
The music is by Malcolm Arnold and provides an upbeat classic British war theme despite the plight of the British Army. It works very well giving off a sense of hope despite the overwhelming odds.
Acting / Characters
What can I say the film boasts an excellent line-up of actors including John Mills as Cpl. “Tubby” Binns. He finds himself in charge of a group of soldiers following the death of their commanding officer. Caught out by the rapid advance of the Germany Army they are in effect behind enemy lines struggling to find and rejoin their unit. Mills is one of three or four main characters that really make Dunkirk a compelling film.
Other key characters/actors include Bernard Lee as Charles Foreman a man whose boat is taken by the Navy. He demands to take the vessel to Dunkirk with the Royal Navy reluctantly agreeing due to the manpower shortage. Accompanying him on the treacherous journey in his own boat is John Holden played by Richard Attenborough. Holden is a far more reluctant participant but ultimately feels duty bound to help out having had the privilege of working in a reserved occupation.
It all works exceptionally well creating plenty of tension along the way.
- John Mills as Cpl. “Tubby” Binns
- Bernard Lee as Charles Foreman
- Richard Attenborough as John Holden
- Robert Urquhart as Pte. Mike Russell
- Ray Jackson as Pte. Barlow
- Meredith Edwards as Pte. Dave Bellman
- Denys Graham as Pte. Fraser
- Victor Maddern as Merchant Seaman in pub
- Kenneth Cope as Lt. Lumpkin
- Maxine Audley as Diana Foreman
- Patricia Plunkett as Grace Holden
- Michael Shillo as Jouvet, French reporter
- Sean Barrett as Frankie
- Bud Flanagan and Chesney Allen as themselves
- Barry Foster as Despatch Rider
- Anthony Nicholls as Military Spokesman
- Warwick Ashton as Battery Sergeant Major
- Peter Halliday as Battery Major in France
- Ronald Hines as Gnr. Miles (Battery Crew)
- Roland Curram as Gnr. Harper (Battery Crew)
- John Welsh as Staff Colonel
- Lloyd Lamble as Staff Colonel
- Cyril Raymond as General Viscount Gort, VC
- Nicholas Hannen as Vice-Admiral Ramsay at Dover
- William Squire as Captain of minesweeper
- Eddie Byrne as Commander at (Tough’s Yard)
- Michael Gwynn as Commander at Sheerness
- Michael Bates as Froome
- Lionel Jeffries as Medical Colonel
- Harry Landis as Dr. Levy, a Military Doctor
- Patrick Allen as Sergeant on Parade Ground
- Bernard Cribbins as Thirsty Sailor
Conclusion: Dunkirk (1958) Film Review
In many ways the 1958 version of this major event during WWII is equally as good as Christopher Nolan’s 2017 one. Both offer a slightly different prospective despite being based on the events at Dunkirk. The focus of the 1958 version is squarely on the British Army’s point of view, depicting soldiers becoming detached from their units and struggling back through enemy occupied territory to the beaches at Dunkirk. It’s done brilliantly and I simply love the way it’s made. I highly recommend you revisit this one now it’s available on Bluray.
If you like my Dunkirk Blu-ray Review you may want to check out these films:
- Dunkirk (2017) Blu-ray Review
- Castle Keep (1969) Blu-ray Review
- Paths of Glory (1957) Blu-ray Review
- Play Dirty (1968) Blu-ray Review
Conclusion: Dunkirk Blu-ray Review
Without question this Bluray release is by far and away the best version yet, that said there are a couple of minor issues worth noting. It’s not quite a flawless release, there are a few tiny white speckles from time to time but I’m nitpicking as overall the picture is sharp and stable. So I’d say it’s a very good release from Studiocanal.
So now it’s time to discuss the extras and overall it’s an excellent set with the interview with actor Sean Barrett full of interesting little facts about the production. There’s a Pathe newsreel short whilst Young Veteran is another official film from the time depicting the events of the start of WWII and the situation at Dunkirk.
I highly recommend watching all of the extras which are both interesting and informative.
- Interview With Actor Sean Barrett (22 mins)
- Dunkirk Operation Dynamo Newsreel (4 mins)
- Young Veteran (22 mins)
- John Mills Home Movie Footage (10 mins)
- Behind The Scenes Stills Gallery
On to my movie rating for Dunkrk (1958)
- Movie Rating: MUST SEE
- Blu-ray Picture: VERY GOOD
- Extras: EXCELLENT
Amazon UK Links
Dunkirk (1958) is available now on Blu-ray
- Blu-ray: https://amzn.to/2Vr3c91
For those of you yet to see the film I’ll leave you with a little taster…
Clip may not be representative of the Blu-ray version
Note: The Amazon links on this page are affiliate / associate links. By buying through the links we may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price you pay.
Summary: Dunkirk (1958) Blu-ray Review
Director(s): Leslie Norman
Actor(s): John Mills, Richard Attenborough, Bernard Lee, Ray Jackson, Kenneth Cope, Victor Maddern, Barry Foster,
- Movie Rating
- Blu-ray Picture Rating
Equally as good as Christopher Nolan’s 2017, both offer a slightly different prospective.