Lifeboat parents guide

Lifeboat Parent Guide

Overall B+

In this Alfred Hitchcock's film, a handful of survivors huddle in a Lifeboat after the passenger ship they were aboard is sunk by a German U-boat. Surrounded by miles of open sea, their human vices and strengths come to the surface while they await a hoped-for rescue.

Release date January 12, 1944

Violence B-
Sexual Content B+
Profanity A-
Substance Use C+

Why is Lifeboat rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated Lifeboat Not Rated

Run Time: 96 minutes

Parent Movie Review

Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead) is a tough reporter, always looking for a story angle. Armed with her camera and typewriter, she stoically chronicles unfolding events even in the face of personal disaster.

While crossing the Atlantic during World War II, the passenger vessel she is on is torpedoed by a German U-boat. Safely stowed away on a lifeboat, Connie records the horror as the boat goes under, leaving debris and dead bodies floating on the surface.

However, she isn’t the only one to make it off the damaged ocean liner. Soon other survivors appear in the littered water and make their way to the lifeboat. Charles D. Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), a wealthy businessman is hauled on board, as are a navy nurse (Mary Anderson), an engineer (John Hodiak) a sailor (William Bendix), a steward (Canada Lee) and a radio operator (Hume Cronyn).

Finally, one more castaway is rescued from the waves—the captain of the German U-boat. Face-to-face with the purveyor of the calamity, the travelers are divided in their reactions.

Confining his cast to the tiny craft, Alfred Hitchcock builds tension and strain among the passengers as they deal not only with Captain Willy’s (Walter Slezak) arrival, but also the anxiety of each day that passes without a sign of rescue. Surrounded by miles and miles of open sea, their human vices and strengths come to the surface as the characters interact with one another while defending themselves against the elements.

Nominated for three Oscars in 1945, the film’s premise of restrictive circumstances and the resulting duress have since been recreated in films like Red Eye and Flightplan, which contain individuals inside the body of an airplane. Similarly in Castaway, Tom Hanks’ character is trapped on an isolated island.

Shot in black and white, this legendary classic portrays the human will to survive. Still as time drags on and the passengers’ private motives are revealed, the demarcation line between humanity and heartlessness sends the occupants to opposite ends of the Lifeboat.

Talk about the movie with your family…

Connie’s affection for her material possessions is tested as she slowly loses all of them. Why are her typewriter and camera so important to her? How does she react when they are lost? How does her attitude change by the end of the film?

Starring Tallulah Bankhead. Running time: 96 minutes. Theatrical release January 12, 1944. Updated

Rating & Content Info

Why is Lifeboat rated Not Rated? Lifeboat is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

After the German U-boat attacks a ship, dead bodies including a baby are seen in the water. Later, a woman, distressed by the loss of her child, commits suicide. As the result of an injury, one man’s leg is amputated. He uses alcohol as a means of dealing with the operation. Several characters smoke. One girl reveals her adulterous relationship with a married man and two couples kiss after some sexual tension develops on board the lifeboat. One character is purposely pushed overboard and killed.

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Lifeboat Parents' Guide

How do the “close quarters” in this film add to the tension? What is revealed about each person’s character? What part does trust play among the castaways?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Lifeboat movie is October 17, 2005. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

Alfred Hitchcock’s films often center on intriguing plots. In The 39 Steps, a young man must prove his innocence when a woman is murdered in his apartment. In Rear Window, a convalescing man suspects one of the tenants across the courtyard has been killed.