38 user 18 critic

The Sea Chase (1955)

Approved | | Action, Drama, War | 4 June 1955 (USA)
3:28 | Trailer
As World War II begins, German freighter Captain Karl Ehrlich tries to get his ship back to Germany through a gauntlet of Allied warships.


John Farrow


James Warner Bellah (screenplay), John Twist (screenplay) | 1 more credit »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Wayne ... Capt. Karl Ehrlich
Lana Turner ... Elsa Keller
David Farrar ... Cmdr. Jeff Napier
Lyle Bettger ... Chief Officer Kirchner
Tab Hunter ... Cadet Wesser
James Arness ... Schlieter
Richard Davalos ... Cadet Walter Stemme (as Dick Davalos)
John Qualen ... Chief Engineer Schmitt
Paul Fix ... Max Heinz
Lowell Gilmore ... Capt. Evans
Luis Van Rooten Luis Van Rooten ... Matz
Alan Hale Jr. ... Wentz (as Alan Hale)
Wilton Graff ... Consul General Hepke
Peter Whitney ... Bachman
Claude Akins ... Winkler (as Claude Akin)


As the Second World War breaks out, German freighter captain Karl Ehrlich is about to leave Sydney, Australia with his vessel, the Ergenstrasse. Ehrlich, an anti-Nazi but proud German, hopes to outrun or out-maneuver the British warship pursuing him. Aboard his vessel is Elsa Keller, a woman Ehrlich has been ordered to return to Germany safely along with whatever secrets she carries. When Ehrlich's fiercely Nazi chief officer Kirchner commits an atrocity, the British pursuit becomes deadly. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The elusive Sea Captain and his blonde woman in an explosive, suspense-packed story of high daring on the high seas! See more »


Action | Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 June 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der See-Fuchs See more »

Filming Locations:

Hawaii, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (35 mm optical prints) (RCA Sound Recording)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints) (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Erlanger eventually made its way to the South Atlantic where she was intercepted by the HMS Newcastle of Montevideo on July 24, 1941, where she was scuttled by her crew. See more »


When the ship slips out of Sydney the captain orders full ahead as soon as the lines are dropped. This is an error in seamanship as the ship would run parallel to the dock and crash into whatever was in front of it. To properly get away from the dock, the stern first would be swung away from the dock, then go into reverse to enter the channel, then a forward command would be given, but not likely full steam ahead while still in the harbor. See more »


Capt. Karl Ehrlich: We'll burn this ship in her own fires!
See more »


Referenced in The Streets of San Francisco: Pilot (1972) See more »


The Radetsky March
Music by Johann Strauss Sr.
Arranged by Roy Webb
See more »

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User Reviews

Vigorous as well as odd war drama set at the outbreak of WWII and with an unusual role by the ¨Duke¨ Wayne
21 September 2016 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Exciting flick on the danger waters of the Pacific with Wayne as a seasoned Captain undertaking several adventures and risks . As the Second World War breaks out , -1939- German freighter captain Karl Ehrlich (John Wayne) is about to leave Sydney , Australia , with his his boat , the Ergenstrasse (it was portrayed by the real HMCS New Glascow , a Prestonian-class frigate) , as he is determined to steer his vessel back to Germany . But a suspicious beauty is aboard as the British Commander Jeff Napier's (David Farrar who narrates the tale by voice-in-off) girlfriend , she's called Elsa Keller (Lana Turner) . As Elsa , a mysterious woman , is on board , that's why Ehrlich has been ordered to return to Germany safely along with whatever secrets she carries . Then the brave skipper sails despite an English blockade , being pursued by British and German navies as he abandons Down Under . As Karl must smuggle throughout enemy Oceans plenty of warships and cruisers . When Ehrlich's fiercely Nazi chief officer Kirchner (Lyle Bettger) commits an atrocity , the British chase becomes deadly . As Ehrlich tries to get his ship back to Germany across the Pacific , Atlantic Oceans and through a gauntlet of Allied warships .

This enjoyable picture packs thrills , drama , action , sea pursuits , it results to be pretty entertaining and appear as supporting players a lot of prestigious actors ; however , being overlong . John Wayne's good vehicle , though miscast as an obstinate Prussian skipper . The plot is plain and simple , as World War II begins , at its violent outbreak , a renegade as well as stubborn German freighter captain named Karl Ehrlich escapes from Sidney and must transport a mysterious passenger and arrive in his destination , Germany . Interesting and stirring script from James Warner Bella , John Ford's regular screenwriter , and John Twist based on a novel written by Andrew Geer . This ¨Sea chase¨ or ¨La Cacería¨ bears certain resemblance with "Blood Alley¨ (55) by William A. Wellman , also with a skipper Wayne , along with Lauren Bacall , pursued and surrounded by enemy ships and attempting to escape . The Wayne-Turner combination ignite the sparks you'd expect . Nice acting by the great John Wayne , here he takes an unusual character as Ehrlich , an anti-Nazi but proud German who hopes to outrun or out-maneuver the British warship pursuing him . A German Wayne rivaled only by his infamous Genghis Khan in ¨The Conqueror¨ film directed by Dick Powell , for strange role selection . And aboard his ship is the gorgeous and elegant Lana Turner who sings a wonderful song accompanied by the seamen . However , star Lana Turner and filmmaker John Farrow did not get along well during production , she felt Farrow gave her no direction at all and that he was unpleasant with her and her co-stars . There is a colorful secondary cast that includes Lyle Bettger as second-in-command officer , David Farrar as the British Commander , Tab Hunter as a young cadet , the veteran Paul Fix , the ordinary Alan Hale Jr , Richard ¨Dick¨ Davalos , John Qualen as chief machinist and John Doucette . Furthermore , two notorious support actors : Claude Akins , -Claude' normally dark hair was bleached blond for this character- and Gunsmoke's James Arness ; Akins later appeared on ten episodes of "Gunsmoke". Evocative cinematography in Cinemascope and WarnerColor by William H. Clothier , John Ford's customary cameraman . And thrilling and moving musical score by Roy Webb.

The motion picture was well directed by John Farrow . At his beginning he wrote short stories and plays during his four-year career in the navy ; in fact John was injured while serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the Royal Navy in World War II . In the late 1920s Farrow came to Hollywood as a technical adviser for a film about Marines and stayed as a screenwriter , from ¨A Sailor's Sweetheart¨ (1927). He began directing in 1937 ¨Men in Exile¨ and ¨West of Shanghai¨ (1937). He married Tarzan's Jane , Maureen O'Sullivan , in 1936 and being Mia Farrow's father . John collaborated in the writing of several of his movies and shared the Academy Award for ¨Around the world in Eighty days¨ (56) . John was a good craftsman who directed all kinds of genres as Western : ¨Copper Canyon¨(50) , ¨Hondo¨ (53) with Wayne , ¨A bullet is waiting¨(54) ; Adventure : ¨Five come back¨(39) , ¨Two years before the mast¨(46) , ¨Botany Bay¨ (59) , ¨Back from eternity¨(56) ; Noir : ¨The Saint strikes back¨(39) , ¨The Criminal Court¨(46) , ¨The Big Clock¨(48) ; Crime drama : ¨Unholy wife¨(57) , ¨His kind of woman¨(51) , Historical : ¨John Paul Jones¨ (59) and Warfare : ¨Commandos strike at dawn¨(43) and this ¨Sea chase¨ (55) .

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