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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 3. May 3, 1944

The Silver Fleet

The Silver Fleet

Have you ever known Ralph Richardson to appear in a poor film? Possibly, but it would be poor in spite of, never because of him. The Silver Fleet without Richardson would be a stirring film of Dutch resistance to the occupying forces. His restrained and polished performance adds subtlety, wit, and tragedy.

That underground work unites the forces of very wide classes of society is not generally realised. Van Leyden, manager of a Dutch shipyard, re-opens it after the occupation to build U-boats for the conquerors; lets himself be reviled as an outcast and quisling, plays the part of an active collaborator and assistant to the Nazis. Behind this ho maintains anonymous contact with the shipyard hands, warns them of the approaching trials of the submarine, and aids the mechanics who are to accompany the crew to smuggle arms aboard. Result—U-107 arrives in Britain with a cargo of German captives.

Portrayal of occupying officials is good; a slight tendency to buffoonery perhaps, but well controlled. The only noticeable flaw in the scenario may perhaps be explained by a misconception of chivalry in the mind of the writer. Van Leyden kept his secret well, even from his wife. Her knowledge and assistance could have been invaluable, her reliability was obvious. In the closing scenes the blind trust of Helene in the good faith of her husband broke down; she refused to see him. Van Leyden met death with his dearest possession, the love of his wife, shattered. The tragedy of this sacrifice rang a little false. The days of blindly trusting wives are gone; for ever, let us hope.