The Baby and the Battleship

The Baby and the Battleship is a colour 1956 British comedy film directed by Jay Lewis and starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and André Morell.[2] It is based on the 1956 novel by Anthony Thorne with a screenplay by Richard De Roy, Gilbert Hackforth-Jones and Bryan Forbes. The Royal Navy provided much cooperation with sequences filmed aboard HMS Birmingham and in Malta.

The Baby and the Battleship
The Baby and the Battleship.jpg
British theatrical poster
Directed byJay Lewis
Screenplay byJay Lewis
Produced byAntony Darnborough
StarringJohn Mills
Richard Attenborough
CinematographyHarry Waxman
Music byHumphrey Searle
Jay Lewis Productions
British Lion Films
Distributed byBritish Lion Films
Distributors Corporation of America (US)
Release date
  • 10 July 1956 (1956-07-10) (London, UK)
  • 30 September 1957 (1957-09-30) (New York, USA)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office£258,845 (UK)[1]


When a group of Royal Navy sailors go ashore on leave in Naples, they go to visit an old friend who is a baker. He is the father of 12 daughters and, to his great pride and relief, an infant son. So that one of them can take the eldest daughter out that night, they are required to take the son with them to an outdoor dance. 'Puncher' has a reputation for fighting and drinking and, despite his best efforts to live up to his pledge to reform his behaviour, he is provoked by two sailors from another ship and starts a fight while his friend 'Knocker' is dancing with the eldest daughter. During the brawl, Puncher Roberts is knocked unconscious while Knocker and the sister run away on the arrival of police, abandoning the baby in the square. Puncher regains consciousness and finds the square empty, except for the baby. Unable to find his friend Knocker, or the child's adult sister, he smuggles the baby aboard their ship, leaving a message in chalk on the wharfside telling Knocker he has taken 'Number 13' on board. He elicits the help of his fellow sailors to care for the baby while hiding it from their superiors, all while in the midst of a series of joint operations with Allied navies off the coast of Italy. Knocker seeks the help of his rather casual shore-based senior officer but to little avail as the ship also maintains radio silence. Knocker makes the most of the unexpected time among the baker's extended family which becomes tense as the return of the baby is delayed. When Puncher's ship is about to have to surrender to superior forces during training exercises, the Captain is able to use the presence of the baby to extricate himself from an embarrassing loss. The ship returns to port and the entire family is re-united on board. [3]



The Baby and the Battleship was one of the ten most popular films at the British box office in 1956.[4][5]


  1. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p509
  2. ^
  3. ^ "The Baby and the Battleship(1956)". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  4. ^ BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 28 Dec 1956: 3
  5. ^ Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 259.

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