The Sea Chase

Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Action, Drama, War
Director(s): John Farrow
117 min

I remember when it began,

and where:

Sydney, Australia...

... the day Hitler rejected our ultimatum

to stay out of Poland.

I remember the ancient German freighter,

brooding at her moorings...

... coal bunkers and provision rooms

more than half empty...

... with the unsafe waters of two oceans

between her and home.

It wasn 't as though her rusty carcass

was worth much...

... or her men unexpendable.

She was an old lady

of the ocean backstreets...

... who should have drowned herself

gracefully long before.

So this is the story

of a German tramp steamer...

... and a salute to a man for whom

the sea was a changeless way of life.

The story of a ship and a man...

... who became so much

a part of one another...

... that his heart was her power...

... his breath, her life...

... his stubbornness,

the steel of her sides.

I am Jeff Napier,

and I knew them both...

... back in the days before the world

took notice of them.

Before there was a story.

Her crew was of no credit

to any sea or land.

Their captain realized that, of course.

In later years, I sometimes

blamed myself...

... for making a challenge

of his problems.

But then, I knew that wasn 't

the force that drove him.

I knew it was something much deeper.

Not loyalty, which is what one may owe

to others, but integrity.

A man 's supreme obligation to himself.

That was a recording of Berlin 's reaction

to Herr Hitler's defiant rejection of...

Turn off that wireless!

On the well deck! Get back to work!

- Jeff.

- Karl.

- Good to see you again.

- Good to see you too.

Let's go up to my quarters.

- Make yourself at home, Jeff.

- Thanks.

From the heavy cruiser von Moltke

to the tramp steamer Ergenstrasse.

How's your father?

I heard he was made vice admiral.

Oh, he's as fit as a youngster.

Bellowing for a sea command.

I'm afraid he's slated for a desk

at the admiralty this war.

- And there's going to be war, Karl.

- There is.

And I'm slated for internment,

is that what you're trying to say?

Well, that's one thing.

I see you still carry

the old imperial flag.

I do.

Quite different from the one astern.

You won't get an argument

out of me on that.

Look, I'm Number One

of the Rockhampton.

We received orders this morning

to make ready to sail.

- On a war footing?

- Yes.

Within the week,

we'll be fighting Nazism.

Now, you've been fighting it since its

inception, and there are plenty like you.

Karl, before this thing breaks,

why don't you establish yourself as...

A traitor?

They took away my command.

Would you take away my homeland?


Well, don't think

I haven't considered it.

But the Rockhampton,

a crack vessel of the Royal Navy...

...certainly isn't wasting

its executive officer... make a survey of the harmless old

Ergenstrasse, without cargo or coal...

...unable to sail.

No. It's Elsa.

- Elsa who?

- Elsa Keller.

I met her in Hamburg.

She's waiting in the car.

- I'd like you to meet her, Karl.

- Gladly.

Didn't I read sometime back

you were engaged to a girl in England?

And I suppose there will be

the deuce to pay when I get back...

...but it'll have to be.

And this isn't just another girl

in Australia?

I'm gonna marry her.

Let's don't keep her waiting.

I still keep something

for special occasions.

Good. Don't bother

to come any further.

Thank you.

You sent for me, sir?

Go over to our consulate fast.

Clear us for Yokohama just as we are.


We can't make Yokohama, sir.

Go to our consulate.

Get into plain clothes.

With news the way it is,

I want no brawls.

Aye, aye, sir.

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James Warner Bellah

James Warner Bellah (September 14, 1899 in New York City – September 22, 1976 in Los Angeles, California) was an American Western author from the 1930s to the 1950s. His pulp-fiction writings on cavalry and Indians were published in paperbacks or serialized in the Saturday Evening Post. Bellah was the author of 19 novels, including The Valiant Virginian (the inspiration for the 1961 NBC television series The Americans), and Blood River. Some of his short stories were turned into films by John Ford, including Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Rio Grande. With Willis Goldbeck he wrote the screenplay for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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