Under Ten Flags (1960) starring Van Heflin, Charles Laughton, Mylène Demongeot, John Ericson, Cecil Parker, Folco Lulli, Alex Nicol directed by Duilio Coletti Movie Review

Under Ten Flags (1960)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Van Heflin in Under Ten Flags (1960)

The Hunt for Atlantis

"Under Ten Flags" is one of the most interesting war movies I have ever seen because it doesn't pander to cliches. But by not pandering and the fact it is based on true story it feels far more authentic, in fact going on the opinions of those who have a greater interest in war history than I do it is said to be one of the most authentic war movies going. Now that comes at a price because by not pandering to the expected it isn't the most exciting of war movies but the performances, the atmosphere and the representation of the characters makes it engaging from start to finish.

So what is "Under Ten Flags" about? Well it is about the Atlantis a German Surface Raider which was the blight of the British Navy because it would sail under the guise of being a merchant ship from various continents and then attacking solitary merchant ships. What that means is part of the move is about the tactics, the tactics of Captain Bernhard Rogge who commanded the Atlantis and how he was always one step ahead of the British navy. But we also see the tactics of the British Navy as they struggled to deal with what was the equivalent of a ghost ship. Along the way we see some of the attacks which the Atlantis made on merchant ships.

Charles Laughton in Under Ten Flags (1960)

But what really makes this interesting is the portrayal of Captain Rogge because it shows him an as humanitarian. We see how he envisioned his job as to conduct a bloodless war and force the merchant ships to abandon ship before then sinking them often bringing him into conflict with those immediately under him who cared not whether the passengers were killed or not. Whilst there have been some war movies made which tried to show than not all German's were nasty this is one of the best because rather than making him a cliche you get a really well defined character, a real humanitarian who treated those he captured with the respect he would hope to receive. As such "Under Ten Flags" features with what is with no question Van Heflin's greatest performance because he makes Rogge a very real person.

Heflin is not the only well known name and face in the movie, Charles Laughton digs deep into his bag of acting tricks to play the almost Churchillian Admiral Russell. There is also the likes of Cecil Parker, Alex Nicol and Ralph Truman but also Mylène Demongeot adding some femininity to the movie.

What this all boils down to is that "Under Ten Flags" is a fascinating WWII movie because by avoiding cliches ends up coming across as more authentic whilst also giving us a wonderful portrayal of Captain Bernhard Rogge as a good man in a bad war.