Humphrey van Weyden, a writer, and fugitives Ruth Webster and George Leach have been given refuge aboard the sealer "Ghost," captained by the cruel Wolf Larsen. The crew mutinies against ... See full summary »
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Edward G. Robinson,
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Humphrey van Weyden, a writer, and fugitives Ruth Webster and George Leach have been given refuge aboard the sealer "Ghost," captained by the cruel Wolf Larsen. The crew mutinies against Larsen's many crimes, and though van Weyden, Ruth, and George try to escape Larsen's clutches, they find themselves drawn inexorably back to him as the "Ghost" sails toward disaster. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
The London classic has been filmed many times, but never better than here. It's Warner Bros. operating on all 8 cylinders, from casting, to directing, to art department and special effects. So who better to play the maniacal captain than Edward G, Robinson at his snarling prime, or the rebellious ex-con than John Garfield at his defiant prime, or the downtrodden girl than Ida Lupino at her soulful prime. Together they're a dynamite cast, and even the snobbish Alexander Knox manages his literary role in fairly sympathetic fashion. It's atmospheric the whole way with the aptly named Ghost slipping through one fog bank after another.
The Robert Rossen adaptation is less philosophical than others. Robinson's Wolf Larson acts more out of psychological compulsion than philosophical principle. His battle of wits with Knox's Humphrey van Weyden is more about Freudian ego than the merits of a Nietschean superman. Larson desires power to prove his own self and not to prove a larger point about ruthlessness and the struggle to survive. I suspect that had the movie been made a few years later, Hitlerian comparisons would have been drawn. Then too, when there's talk of the ship's "downtrodden" crew being freed at last, it's likely the leftish Rossen has more than a ship's crew in mind. Too bad that the commanding Howard deSilva doesn't have a larger role which would have made the outlaw ship even more hellish.
Note the informal wedding vows exchanged between Lupino and Garfield at movie's end. The lines are rather clumsy and out-of-step with the rest of the script. I suspect the censors required some such vows before the couple were allowed to live together on a deserted island after leaving the ship. Even though this seems a reach, I gather censorship concerns could indeed reach to such an implied level. Be that as it may, the Robinson performance is powerfully riveting and not to be missed. All in all, the movie remains a fine example of ensemble film-making and a tribute to Hollywood's old studio system.
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