Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Dam Busters, The (1955)

Dam Busters, The (1955)

Adapted by R.C. Sherriff from Guy Gibson’s book Enemy Coast AheadThe Dam Busters follows the conception and implementation of a new British weapon for smashing the German dams in the Ruhr industrial complex during World War II.

In 1942, Dr Barnes Wallis (Michael Redgrave) was possessed with a seemingly absurd idea – the creation of a revolutionary bouncing bomb to destroy the Ruhr dams and paralyse Germany’s heartland.

This film describes the development of the bouncing bomb, showing Barnes Wallis shooting marbles across a bathtub of water as the idea begins to form, through to devising a particularly simple bombsight and altimeter that had to be developed.

The film is a tribute to the genius of Barnes Wallis who fought persistent scepticism and disbelief from Whitehall that such a feat was possible.


Major disappointments accompany the initial trials, the casing of the bomb has to be drastically re-designed, and it transpires that the aircraft will need to approach the dam considerably lower and faster than had been predicted.

A special Squadron (617) is formed and selected to carry out the attack on the dams harnessing the energy of the rivers Moehne, Eder and Sorbe, led by Wing-Commander Guy Gibson (Richard Todd) who is given responsibility for the sortie and intensive training.

The climax of the film – the actual attack on the German dams – is rather a disappointment due to some unimpressive special effects.

Dr Barnes Wallis
Michael Redgrave
Mrs Wallis

Ursula Jeans

Charles Carson
Sir David Pye

Stanley Van Beers
Doctor WH Glanville
Colin Tapley
Official from Ministry of Aircraft

Raymond Huntley
Captain Joseph Summers

Patrick Barr
RAF Officer at trials

Anthony Shaw
Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris

Basil Sydney
Group Captain JNH Whitworth

Derek Farr

Laurence Naismith
BBC Announcer

Frank Phillips
dambusters_005Wing Commander Guy Gibson
Richard Todd
Flight Lieutenant RD Trevor-Roper
Brewster Mason

Flight Lieutenant REG Hutchison

Anthony Doonan
Flight Officer FM Spafford

Nigel Stock
Flight Lieutenant AT Taerum

Brian Nissen
Flight Sergeant Pulford

Robert Shaw

Michael Anderson