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CMG’s British WWII Movie Set Will Appeal To Many Movie Buffs, Historians

Late this winter as the new year opened and the cold winds of winter blew so hard, Cohen Media Group gave audiences a new reason to stay indoors and warm while they counted the days until spring when the company released its new World War II double feature, The Sea Shall Not Have Them/Albert R.N.  The two British imports are interesting presentations in regard to their stories.  This will be addressed shortly.  While the stories give audiences reason enough to watch the movies, the lack of any bonus content addressing them (and other related matters) definitely detracts from the collection’s presentation.  This will be factored a little later.  Knowing that lack, while concerning, is not enough to doom the set, there is at least one more positive to note.  That positive is in how the stories were presented.  This will be discussed later, too.  Keeping all of this in mind, this recently released double feature proves itself a collection that true film buffs on either side of “the pond” will find worth watching at least once.

Cohen Media Group’s recently released double feature of British World War II period pieces, The Sea Shall Not Have Them/Albert R.N., is an offering that most true film buffs and historians will find worth watching.  That is due in part to the stories featured in each movie.  In the case of The Sea Shall Not Have Them, the story at the center of the movie, which made its theatrical debut in 1954, follows the crew of a downed British warplane as it struggles to survive against the elements in a tiny life raft in the North Atlantic Ocean.  What is interesting here is that while the story centers on the plane’s crew, the men are not the only focus.  The story, which is based on the novel penned by John Harris only a year prior, opens on the crew of a British patrol boat that plays a pivotal role in finding the crew of the downed plane.  As the story progresses, it goes back and forth between each crew, slowly building the tension over the course of the movie’s 92-minute run time.  How that tension is built plays into the way in which the story was constructed here.  This will be addressed later.  Suffice it to say the story has a happy ending.

In the case of Albert R.N., the story centers on a group of British prisoners of war that is being held in a German camp in the waning days of the war.  Originally released in 1953, the movie’s story finds the men designing a dummy that it uses to try and help its ranks escape the camp, naming the dummy Albert.  Unlike The Sea Shall Not Have Them, this movie is not based on a novel but rather on actual events.  Yes, it is one of those movies.  They even existed even that far back in the history of film, and over in Great Britain just as much as in the United States.  While there is no seeming connection between this story at that of The Great Escape, which American audiences received a decade later in 1963 and the CBS sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes, which first debuted on television the same year as The Great Escape, it is interesting to see the apparent popularity of such a story line at that time in cinema.  Maybe it was coincidence that all three productions debuted in such a short time, but that again goes back to that discussion.

Speaking of said discussion, while the stories at the center of the movies make for some interest, there is zero bonus content focusing on that noted close release of all three productions in such short time.  Was it coincidence or was it part of some larger trend?  Again, there is no bonus material to address this matter.  For that matter, there is no bonus content at all.  So viewers do not even get any insight into the continued popularity of WWII stories even 10-20 years after the war’s end (at that time).  What’s more there is not even discussion on what keeps WWII-era stories at least moderately popular even now in the 21st century.

On yet another note, there is no discussion on the approach taken to the stories.  That aspect – the approach taken – plays directly with the stories themselves to make for even more interest.  As previously noted, the story at the center of The Sea Shall Not Have Them is unique in how it is constructed.  Its title hints at it focusing on the group of downed airmen yet focuses just as much on the group of British seamen who find the airmen as the airmen themselves.  The scene transitions used to go back and forth between the two groups is intriguing because they feel like something that one might see play out on stage, not necessarily on screen.  It is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.  It is actually something unique in a good way.  This applies even as the story turns to focus on the men at the headquarters who are using maps to try to trace the signal being sent out by the airmen.

What is even more interesting in all of this is the minimalist approach taken throughout the story.  In today’s moviemaking industry, such a movie would be so unnecessarily over the top.  There would be tense music, all kind of melodrama and other elements that are so commonplace in today’s dramas and blockbusters.  Those behind the lens of this movie did not do any of that.  They simply used story telling to play out the tale and it makes the story all the more gripping.  To that end, the approach taken here serves as a key example of how far the movie industry has strayed from its roots and how much better movies were so many ages ago.

The same applies in the approach taken to Albert R.N.  Just as The Sea Shall Not Have Them, the approach taken here is minimalist, too.  Most of the story takes place in the one primary prisoner barracks building.  There is a secondary scene – a bath house.  But other than that, the interior set and the camp exterior set are the main focus.  The plan and house it was executed makes for some light hearted moments among the otherwise tense tale.  The work of the cast (especially those playing the Nazi officers) succeeds because it makes it easy to hate especially Schulz and have so many mixed feelings about the camp’s lead officer (played by Frederick Valk – Dead of Night, Thunder Rock, Night Train to Munich).  That is because while he is a Nazi, he is far more human and humane than Schulz (Anton Diffring – Victory, The Blue Max, Where Eagles Dare).  Diffring’s col nature makes his wonderfully despicable, and in turn audiences will cheer when he receives his fate in the finale.  The thing is that even with that in mind, that finale leaves too much room for closure, but that is a discussion for another time (maybe even for bonus content that could have and should have been included with the collection).  The simple, straight forward approach to everything here makes for plenty of engagement and serves in its own right to show that simplicity works just as well as the over-the-top approach that far too many moviemakers take today if not better.  Keeping in mind the positive impact that the stories’ simple approaches take alongside the stories themselves, these two aspects combine with the work of the movies’ cast to make the movies worth watching at least once.  To that end, the set in whole proves itself worth watching at least once among true movie buffs and historians on either side of the Atlantic.

Cohen Media Group’s recently released WWII period movie collection, The Sea Shall Not Have Them/Albert R.N., the recently released WWII-era double feature collection from the well-known cinema studio.  It is a collection that offers some interest through its movies’ stories and through the approach taken to each story.  The lack of any bonus content to accompany the collection definitely detracts from the collection’s overall engagement and entertainment.  It is not enough to doom the set but certainly would have helped to really enhance the presentation.  Keeping all of this in mind, the collection is an interesting addition to this year’s field of movie re-issues.

The Sea Shall Not Have Them/Albert R.N. is available now from Cohen Media Group.  More information on this collection and other titles from Cohen Media Group is available at: