All dialog in brown text is taken from the movie script at www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk
Captain Murrell becomes overconfident and underestimates the experience of Kapitan von Strolberg. He repeats a seeming harmless manoeuvre, only to find his ship under attack from four torpedoes. Sonar reports “High-speed propeller effect, all on starboard side”. Murrell tries in vain to swing his ship to port. But its too late.
With his ship gravely damaged Murrell wants the damage to appear more severe so the sub will surface, so he orders Mr. Ware to gather some mattresses together and to set them ablaze “Mr. Ware, get a party and light some fires on deck. Use mattresses and gasoline. I want it to look as if
the ship is burning”.
Murrell confers with engine room which tells him they’ll have enough steam to move the ship. The engineer, in a sauna of steam, says “just give the word”.
“Just say the word”
Murrell then orders the majority of the crew to abandon ship. “Attention, everyone. This is the captain. I want all of you to listen carefully. They got one in where it would do the most damage and we're going to lose the ship.
But we still have a kick left. We're going to try to use it. I am hoping that playing dead and the fire will bring the enemy to the surface. Except for securing crew and the gun crew of mount 31, I want you all to abandon ship.
Repeat: abandon ship. Get as far away as quickly as you can. It's possible the enemy will put another fish into us without warning. Now get going. Good luck”. Some crew jump off the ship, while most get off the ship in life boats. But if you watch the film closely you’ll see a crewman do a swan dive ! It should be noted that most of the crew who participated in the abandon ship sequence were the crew from the ship that stood in for the fictional Haynes, the USS Whitehurst. While they probably rehearsed this sequence so it would appear somewhat orderly the finished version had the frantic qualities that one usually equates with youngsters getting out of school at the end of the school year.
Kapitan von Strolberg observes the chaos through his periscope and decides to surface. When the begins to break the surface of the water Lt. Ware and Captain Murrell observe this causing Murrell to remark “I'm half-surprised he took the bait. That’s the first foolish thing he's done. That makes us even”. Now this part mystifies me. von Strolberg gives enemy prior warning to a death blow, which I have never seen before in any war film with a nautical theme. After giving the warning Murrell acknowledges it, adds a thank you, and proceeds to give orders.
“Tell him that in five minutes
I will finish off his ship”
Murrell then confers with Mr. Ware. “Mr. Ware. Your papers say you were
captain of a racing yacht before the war. You must have a good eye for speed and distance. Would you like to take the helm?”. Mr. Ware races for the bridge eager to show what he can do. Captain Murrell then orders then engine room to “Crack your throttle wide and get out!”. Kapitan von Strolberg, still in conning tower sees the hulk of the wounded prey surging towards him.
The German captain realizes what's about to happen
Kunz, who is manning the deck gun, freezes and ignores his Kapitan’s orders to fire. The bow of the ship smashes into into the sub, causing massive leaks, and making it totally unseaworthy for any purpose.
von Strolberg orders his third officer to look after the welfare of the men, and he’ll set the explosive charges. But before he goes he salutes his adversary. As he goes below he finds a badly wounded Heini Schwaffer hanging on to a ladder while the sea pours in all around him.
The Kapitan slowly moves Heini to a hatch. Through almost super human strength Schwaffer is moved through the hatch of the partially crushed sub. Murrell, who has been on the bridge since he saluted his adversary, sees Schwaffer and von Strolberg appear. He throws then a thick rope which von Strolberg ties off, then secures Heini in a sea mans knot. As soon as Schwaffer is over the edge of the crushed sub Murrell pulls him aboard. Kapitan von Strolberg follows shortly hanging from the rope and going hand over hand. As he sets foot on the deck he eyes his enemy for the very first time.
It’s at this point in the film that the typical ugly American take the place of Capt. Murrell. He thinks he and his new German friend should go over to the port side. “There's no fire on the port side. We go over that way. Do you understand English? Port side!” There’s less reason for Murrell to use broken English and even less reason for Murrell to yell since the men are less than four feet apart. Heini has collapsed against a bulkhead and Murrell tries to convince von Strolberg to leave him “Can't you see? This man's dying”. von Strolberg utters a sentence that explains everything. “He is my friend”. Before Heini can pass away, and the captains can move, they are beset by a mob of German and American crewmen who start ushering them to a waiting lifeboat. Mr. Ware, in his usual understated manner tells the captains “Hurry, sir, I'm double-parked downstairs”. Almost everyone in the world seems to get in the lifeboat as it pulls away from the Haynes for the last time.
Everyone is rescued, but Schwaffer dies of his wounds. A funeral service is held. It’s in German, but the American crew respectfully attends. It was a wonderful touch. At the end of the funeral Kapitan von Strolberg strolls to the fantail to comprehend his life ahead. Murrell follows and offers him a smoke. Von Strolberg looks into the eyes of Murrell and says “I should have died many times, Captain, but I continue to survive, somehow. This time, it was your fault”. Captain Murrell isn’t quite sure how to take this bit of information, so replies “I didn't know. Next time, I won't throw you the rope”.
A truly enjoyable film, if you get a chance see it. Better still own it.