Vela, cynical captain of a slow, decrepit sailing ship, sells passage out of Germany to fugitives. His crew are no angels either. Cheyne, a young American doctor visiting the ship, is ... See full summary »
Vela, cynical captain of a slow, decrepit sailing ship, sells passage out of Germany to fugitives. His crew are no angels either. Cheyne, a young American doctor visiting the ship, is shanghaied on a 3-month voyage to Brazil when Vela abruptly embarks. In mid-ocean, Cheyne rescues the survivor of a watery plane crash, lovely American heiress Ethel Marley; he and the ship's cook keep her hidden from captain and crew. But a brutal incident leads to mutiny and murder, putting the two Americans in great danger...building to a cliffhanger climax. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Tourneur's last silent movie shows his full command of the silent film grammar -- much of which he invented -- in his beautiful compositions and still camera, punctuated for excellent effect by purposeful moving and process shots. He never uses the camera to make the viewer gasp at his brilliance, but only to punctuate a psychological point or improve the film's pace.
The story, from the novel by Franzos Keremen, is a commentary on Jack London's SEA WOLF. London's Wolf Larsen is a Nietzschean philosopher. The captain, in this movie, is a schemer among brutes -- a correction to London's drunken maunderings that might have served humanity better. It is the gentle cook, played by Vladimir Sokoloff that is the real hero of the story after the crew mutinies and kills the ship's master.
The movie also stars Marlene Dietrich, a few months before von Sternberg supposedly plucked her from obscurity. She looks a lot like Claudette Colbert in this movie and shows her command of film acting already. Very highly recommended.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?