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Charles Stewart, the "Pilgrim" owner's playboy son, finds himself shanghaied on his father's ship commanded by cruel Captain Thompson. When scurvy breaks out he leads a mutiny and is slapped in irons. Floggings and torture abound. Written by
Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Life at sea as it really was, not just the romance and glory
This is a movie to see to get a feel for what it must have been like back in the "good old days" of tall ships and iron men. Lemme tell ya, the cruise ships of today are as far from "sailing" as a toy poodle is from a wolf.
This is one of my favorite movies, Alan Ladd is wonderful as the spoiled rich boy, while Howard Da Silva as the ruthless captain only interested in setting a new record around Cape Horn creates a new high-water mark for callousness. (What's with sea captains in Hollywood movies, anyway? If it's not the bumbling incompetence of Bogart's Queeg it's the cold heartlessness of Trevor Howard and Charles Laughton's Captain Bligh.) The stowaway kid (Darryl Hickman) is a bit over-the-top I admit, but it seems they all were in movies made back then. Speaking of back then, this baby is in black-and-white, and although some of the scenes in the various waterfront bars and in the hold of the ship benefit thereby, the outdoor scenes suffer a bit because of it. And speaking of outdoor scenes, they really didn't put much of the budget into special effects, as the boat looks exactly like what it is, a toy bobbing around in someone's bathtub.
Still, that's not why people love this movie. It's the fascination of watching Alan Ladd's Charles Stewart transformed from rich, obnoxious playboy into deeply affected human being as he watches the massive cruelty and abuse around him. The cruelty and virtual slavery of these sailors is portrayed with an unflinching eye, and you're cheering along with them when the final confrontation unfolds. As someone wiser than me observed, "Going to sea is going to jail, with a chance at drowning besides."
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