Sealed Cargo (1951): Alfred Werker’s WWII Adventure, Starring Dana Andrews and Calude Rains (Nazi U-Boats)

From the Vaults:

Alfred L. Werker directed Sealed Cargo, a routine WWII adventure about a fisherman, played by Dana Andrews, who gets tangled up with Nazis and their U-boats.

Sealed Cargo
Poster of the movie Sealed Cargo.jpg

Other major cast members are Claude Rains, Carla Balenda and Philip Dorn.

Andrews’ real-life brother Steve Forrest has a small, uncredited part, in one of his earliest screen roles.

The movie was based on the novel The Gaunt Woman by Edmund Gilligan.

In 1943, at the height of the World War II Battle of the Atlantic, Captain Pat Banyon, skipper of the fishing trawler Daniel Webster, unloads his catch in the port of Gloucester, Massachusetts. He reluctantly agrees to transport Margaret McLean to Trabo, a small community in Newfoundland.

Shorthanded, he hires Danish sailor Konrad, and sails for the Grand Banks fishing grounds. Once at sea, another Dane, Holger, reports that the radio is sabotaged. Banyon suspects one of them or even Margaret of being a German agent.

At night in heavy fog, during gunfire, they search for survivors and find the damaged Den Magre Kvinde (Danish for The Gaunt Woman), a Danish square-rigged sailing ship. She appears to have been damaged in a storm and then shelled.

Aboard, they discover only the dazed Captain Skalder, who claims that his crew abandoned ship in a storm, and that he was attacked by a U-boat. The Daniel Webster tows the stricken Kvinde to Trabo.

Konrad is suspicious, noting that the German gunfire hit above the waterline (rather than below it), and that while the tarpaulin is riddled with bullet holes, the boat itself is undamaged.

Banyon and Konrad sneak below decks to search the hold, and accidentally discover a second, hidden hold containing racks of torpedoes–the ship is covertly resupplying the U-boat “wolfpacks”.

They watch Holger enters the hold, using radio to signal the Germans. However, before the pair can alert the military, Skalder’s crew arrives in boats, so they pretend to know nothing. Skalder plans to resupply the U-boats at Trabo.

Banyon sets up a night ambush; when the Germans come to take the villagers prisoner, the invaders are wiped out. Banyon and his men then set fire to the Kvinde under cover of darkness. In the resulting confusion, they board, overpower or kill the remainder of the crew, and free Margaret, who had been taken hostage.

Banyon takes the ship out to sea, intending to destroy her safely away from the village by rigging the torpedoes to explode. The Kvinde is approached by two U-boats seeking supplies. Skalder manages to get a gun and wounds his guard Konrad, before he is killed.

As a third U-boat surfaces, Banyon helps Konrad into a boat and row away under German gunfire. When the ship explodes, the resulting wave swamps and sinks the submarines.

Dana Andrews as Pat Banyon
Carla Balenda as Margaret McLean
Claude Rains as Captain Skalder
Philip Dorn as Konrad
Onslow Stevens, Commander James McLean, Margaret’s father
Skip Homeier as Steve
Eric Feldary as Holger
J. M. Kerrigan as Skipper Ben
Arthur Shields as Kevin Dolan
Morgan Farley as Caleb


Directed by Alfred L. Werker
Screenplay by Dale Van Every, Oliver H. P. Garrett, Roy Huggins, based on The Gaunt Woman, the 1943 novel by Edmund Gilligan
Produced by Warren Duff, Samuel Bischoff
Cinematography George E. Diskant
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Music by Roy Webb

Production and distribution: RKO Radio Pictures

Release date: May 19, 1951

Running time: 88 minutes


TCM showed this rarely seen film on July 13, 2022.