Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 12. September 19, 1945
Western Approaches is quite superb, and that's really all that need be said about it. All the same, it is perhaps a good thing to point out that this is another in the long line of masterly films that England has made during the war. None of the American films, not even The Fighting Lady, can approach this, and San Demetrio, London, and In which we Serve as documents recording quietly the highest flights of human endeavour and heroism, at the same time presenting accurately the undramatic doings of ordinary people. There is an obvious commentary here on the American system of parading stars, many of them highly unsuitable, through miles of film so that they may be spread on the top of a billboard. How much more genuine and thrilling are the happenings in the lifeboat than the most extravagant and technicoloured excesses of Mr. Spencer Tracy or any of the other glamour boys of Hollywood. The plain fact is that the British films of the war have not been [unclear: phony]. There can be little doubt that they are propaganda, but they are skilful self-deprecatory and unjingoistic, as against the general American blatancy, advertisement, self-satisfaction and howling patriotism. (Did you know, by the way, that an American flying film Is coming called God is my Co-Pilot? Talk about sauce!)
Western Approaches is a life-boat-rescue-U-boat film, with the merit that it wasn't shot in a tank at the studio. The boats and ships are obviously real ones, the men without doubt actual members of the Merchant Marine, the situations. I am sure, those encountered frequently. It is in colour, and the sea shots are the grandest I've ever seen. As in San Demetrio, the beauty of this film lies in its understatement. There aren't any dying speeches about England; the whole affair seems credible. It is an experience not to be missed.