Hitchcock called Lifeboat “a microcosm of the war.” As if to emphasize the “micro” amid the magnitude of World War II, the action never leaves the titular boat, adrift on the Atlantic after a German sub sinks an Allied freighter. Tossed together are an assortment of English speakers-including a worldly reporter (Tallulah Bankhead), a German-American with the emphasis on American (William Bendix), a hot-headed seaman (John Hodiak), a humanitarian industrialist (Henry Hull), and a black steward (Canada Lee)-and one dangerously competent German sailor (Walter Slezak). Critics berated the film for depicting the German as some kind of Übermensch; more alarming is the implication that the Allies may be saved not by democratic idealism, but by mob ruthlessness. The perturbed propagandists at the Office of War Information bluntly called the deadpan and brutal climax “an orgasm of murder.”

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