Sailors Three (1940)


Sailors Three (also stylised Sailors 3 and released in the US as Three Cockeyed Sailors) is a 1940 British war comedy film directed by Walter Forde and starring Tommy Trinder, Claude Hulbert and Carla Lehmann.

This was cockney music hall comedian Trinder’s debut for Ealing, the studio with which he was to become most closely associated.

It concerns three British sailors who accidentally find themselves aboard a German ship during the Second World War.


During the Second World War, three Royal Navy sailors on a drunken spree in a Brazilian neutral port mistake a German ship for their own and climb aboard.

It turns out to be a pocket battleship, the Ludendorff, and to the credit of the Royal Navy, the trio manages to capture the ship and all the Germans on board.


  • Tommy Trinder as Tommy Taylor.
  • Claude Hulbert as Llewellyn Davies, ‘The Admiral’.
  • Carla Lehmann as Jane Davies.
  • Michael Wilding as Johnny Wilding.
  • James Hayter as Hans Muller.
  • Jeanne de Casalis as Mrs Pilkington.
  • Henry Hewitt as Professor Pilkington.
  • Brian Fitzpatrick as Digby Pilkington.
  • John Laurie as McNab.
  • Harold Warrender as Pilot’s Mate.
  • Eric Clavering as Bartender.
  • John Glyn-Jones as Best Man.
  • John Wengraf as German Captain.
  • Manning Whiley as German Commander.
  • Victor Fairley as German Petty Officer.
  • Alec Clunes as British Pilot.


  • Detailed surveys published in Britain in the early years of the war by the “Mass-Observation” organisation, showed the popularity of comedy with wartime cinema audiences.
    • Films with the war as a subject were particularly well received, especially those movies showing the lighter side of service life, largely because many in the audience would soon be finding themselves in uniform.
    • John Oliver writes in BFI screenonline, ” to prepare such potential recruits for their own possible riotous and fun-packed life in the Royal Navy, Sandy Powell had already taken the shilling in All At Sea (dir. Herbert Smith, 1939) before Tommy Trinder did likewise with Sailors Three, following his comic misadventures in the army in Laugh It Off (dir. John Baxter) earlier that same year.”
    • The song “All Over The Place” (words by Frank Eyton; music by Noel Gay), sung by Trinder in the film, became one of the most popular of the war.
  • When the sailors go ashore on leave, you can see their shadows clearly against the back-projected ‘sea’ surrounding the small boat.
  • Derek Elphinstone is listed as “Derek Elphinsone” in the opening credits.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Walter Forde.
  • Producer(s):
    • Michael Balcon … producer.
    • Culley Forde … associate producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Angus MacPhail … (screenplay) (as Angus Macphail).
    • Austin Melford … (screenplay).
    • John Dighton … (screenplay).
    • Angus MacPhail … (story) (uncredited).
    • Gordon Wellesley … (story) (uncredited).
  • Music:
    • Ernest Irving (uncredited).
  • Cinematography:
    • Gunther Krampf.
  • Editor(s):
    • Ray Pitt.
  • Production:
    • Ealing Studios.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Associated British Film Distributors (A.B.F.D.) (1941) (UK) (theatrical) (distributed throughout The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Eire by) (as Associated British Film Distributors Limited 169 Oxford St. London, W.).
    • United Artists (1941) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Ealing Distribution (1943) (UK) (theatrical) (re-release).
    • Filmimport A/S (1947) (Norway) (theatrical).
    • Leisureview (2001) (UK) (video).
  • Release Date: 14 December 1940 (UK).
  • Running Time: 86 minutes.
  • Rating: U.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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