Corvette K-225

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Corvette K-225
Corvette K-225 1943 poster.jpg
Directed by Richard Rosson
Produced by Howard Hawks
Written by John Rhodes Sturdy (Original story and screenplay)
Music by David Buttolph
Edited by Edward Curtiss
Universal Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • September 29, 1943 (1943-09-29) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $1 million (US rentals)[1]

Corvette K-225 is a 1943 war film starring Randolph Scott and Ella Raines, making her feature film debut.[2] The film was released in the UK as The Nelson Touch. Robert Mitchum, credited as Bob Mitchum, had a minor supporting role, one of 20 Hollywood films he made in 1943.[3] Tony Gaudio was nominated for the 1943 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (B&W) for his work on Corvette K -225.[4]


In 1943, Lieutenant Commander MacClain (Randolph Scott) has just lost his ship and most of his crewmen due to enemy action. While accompanying a convoy, he was attacked by a U-boat with a distinctive large Iron Cross painted on the conning tower. The U-boat surfaced and machine-gunned many of the survivors. Offered duty ashore, MacClain is determined to avenge his men. He is allocated a new ship and while waiting for it to be built, befriends Joyce Cartwright (Ella Raines), whose brother Dick, an officer, was killed under his command.

MacClain's new ship is christened the HMCS Donnacona , and soon a crew of 65, including officer Paul Cartwright (James Brown), Joyce's younger brother is assigned to the corvette. Setting out as an escort to a convoy heading for England, the Donnacona comes upon a grisly sight, a lifeboat filled with dead sailors, the result of a deadly U-boat attack.

In an ocean storm, his ship is separated from the convoy, but 300 miles from the Irish coast, MacClain finds other lost ships that had also been separated from the other escort ships. The captain of one of the ships, the tanker Egyptian Star relays the information that he thinks a submarine has been trailing the ship. The small group of ships become the target of Luftwaffe bombers that are chased off by a British fighter launched from one of the escort ships. The submarines below are still the main concern and when the Egyptian Star is torpedoed and sunk, MacClain attacks, sinking a U-boat with depth charges.

Another U-boat surfaces and in a running battle, cripples the Donnacona . MacClain attempts to ram the submarine and when it begins to dive, Lt. Cartwright and seaman Stooky O'Meara (Barry Fitzgerald) set off depth charges, sinking the U-boat. As it breaks up, MacClain recognizes it as the one which had machine-gunned his men, killing his former crew.

The corvette, along with six surviving merchant ships, limps to safely in Ireland, but before it sets anchor, MacClain is asked to sail the Donnacona past the other ships in the harbor, so that its crew may be saluted for their bravery.



Under the working title of "Corvettes in Action", Corvette K-225 was produced between February 4 and early May 1943. While much of the film was made on a sound stage, parts of it, notably an outdoor scene at the University of King's College, Halifax, were filmed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many of the corvettes were stationed and where many transatlantic convoys were gathered and deployed. Over a three-month period in 1943, camera crews accompanied five convoys in order to gather background footage.[5]

As its location was a wartime secret, Halifax is referred to as "Hannington Harbour" in the film. The scenes of the shipyard were filmed at Saint John, New Brunswick as the old General Hospital which sat on a high hill overlooking the ship yard is visible in a few scenes; the hospital has since been demolished. Corvette K -225 featured a fictional ship in the Royal Canadian Navy, HMCS Donnacona, which was played by HMCS Kitchener (K225).

Before final casts were announced, Robert Stack, Dick Foran, Diana Barrymore, Evelyn Ankers, Leif Erikson, Jon Hall, Nigel Bruce and Patric Knowles were considered by Howard Hawks. In the June 11, 1942 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, Robert Rosson was to be the second unit director on the film, shooting 10 days on location in the Atlantic with a convoy, and Hawks was going to direct, as well as produce. Screenwriter Lt. John Rhodes Sturdy, the commanding officer of a Canadian corvette, was also assigned to the film for five weeks as a technical advisor, loaned to the production by Canadian Navy Intelligence.[5]


The world premiere of Corvette K-225 was held on October 19, 1943 at the Central Theatre in Ottawa, Canada, with the proceeds being donated to the Navy League of Canada.[5] Film critic Bosley Crowther reviewed the film for The New York Times, stating, "Randolph Scott gives a beatuiful performance ..." but most of the review focused on the drama of the RCN corvettes at sea, "In a virtually documentary treatment of life aboard the K-225, Producer Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson, director of the film, have realized the physical strain and torment of work in a rampant corvette. They have pictured with indubitable fidelity the discomforts of an escort vessel's crew—the eternal tossing and rolling of the ship in a moderate sea; her plunging and gyrating in the grip of a North Atlantic gale, with tons of sea water pouring over her, battering and soaking every man." [6]



  1. ^ "Top grossers of the season."Variety, January 5, 1944, p. 54.
  2. ^ Nott 2004, p. 111.
  3. ^ Nott 2004, p. 114.
  4. ^ "Awards: 'Corvette K-225'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: July 1, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Notes: 'Corvette K-225'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: July 1, 2016.
  6. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: 'Corvette K-225' , thrilling film of heroic service by British and Canadians to defend convoys, at Loew's Criterion." The New York Times, October 21, 1943.


  • Nott, Robert. The Films of Randolph Scott. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2004. ISBN 0-7864-1797-8.

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