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Off the coast of Nova Scotia during World War II, a fishing crew comes across a badly damaged Danish schooner with only the captain left alive. The schooner has apparently been shelled by a German U-boat, so the fishermen tow it into harbor, not realizing it is a bomb-laden shill for a pack of German subs. It is then up to the fishing boat captain to destroy the deadly schooner and scuttle the Nazi plot. Made six years after the war, Sealed Cargo (1951) explored a little-seen aspect of the war - not the battlefields of Europe or the Pacific but much closer to home where ordinary citizens were on the alert for the threat of German U-boats off their coasts.
Although Sealed Cargo wasn't one of his major films, lead actor Dana Andrews, as the fishing captain, was at the peak of his popularity. A year earlier, he starred in the first-rate psychological crime drama Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), directed by Otto Preminger, who also gave Andrews some of his best roles in Laura (1944), Fallen Angel (1945) and Daisy Kenyon (1947). A few years after this, Andrews played the love interest to a young Elizabeth Taylor in the epic romance Elephant Walk (1954). Never one of Hollywood's top stars, he nevertheless made a number of movies that brought him both popular and critical success and proved to be a solid actor always capable of interesting, nuanced performances. His career encompassed more than 100 appearances in film and television between 1940 and 1993, and included Westerns, crime dramas, war films and science fiction.
As the "Danish" captain, Claude Rains was in the twilight years of his film career with his greatest roles behind him. One of the top supporting players in the business during the 1930s and 1940s, Rains employed his cultured style and slightly sinister air often to play villains (albeit complex and sometimes sympathetic ones) in such diverse pictures as The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Kings Row (1942), Casablanca (1942) and Notorious (1946). Although he made only a handful of feature films after Sealed Cargo, among them Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), he kept very active in television well into his seventies.
Director Alfred Werker was primarily a 'B' moviemaker throughout most of his career, but he does have a few impressive credits. He was the director of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939), one of the best of that series with Basil Rathbone in the lead, and the documentary-style film noir He Walked by Night (1948). He also did uncredited editing work on the U.S. version of Roberto Rossellini's Stromboli (1950), the movie that made Ingrid Bergman an international scandal when the married star became pregnant by her director.
Playing a small uncredited role as a veteran seaman is Burt Kennedy, best known for his script work on a series of superlative 1950s Westerns directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott. Kennedy later became a director himself, turning out mostly lighthearted Westerns such as The Rounders (1965) and Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969).
Director: Alfred Werker
Producers: Samuel Bischoff, Warren Duff
Screenplay: Oliver H.P. Garrett, Roy Huggins, Dale Van Every, based on the novel The Gaunt Woman by Edmund Gilligan
Cinematography: George E. Diskant
Editing: Ralph Dawson
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino
Original Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Dana Andrews (Pat Bannon), Claude Rains (Captain Skalder), Carla Balenda (Margaret McLean), Philip Dorn (Konrad), Onslow Stevens (Cmdr. McLean), Skip Homeier (Steve).
by Rob Nixon