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Two Years Before the Mast (1946)

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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 248 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 4 critic

The playboy son of a wealthy shipping magnate discovers at first hand the desperate privations suffered by the crew of one of his fathers ships when he is unwillingly pressganged aboard.



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Title: Two Years Before the Mast (1946)

Two Years Before the Mast (1946) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Complete credited cast:
Charles Stewart
Richard Henry Dana
First Mate Amazeen
Terence O'Feenaghty
Howard Da Silva ...
Captain Francis A. Thompson
Esther Fernández ...
Maria Dominguez
Luis Van Rooten ...
2nd Mate Foster
Sam Hooper
Roman Bohnen ...
Gordon Stewart
Theodore Newton ...
Tom Powers ...
James Burke ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Greatest of All Adventure Classics!


Drama | Adventure


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 November 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Two Years Before the Mast  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »


Captain Francis A. Thompson: Mr. Foster, remove his shirt.
2nd Mate Foster: Aye, aye, sir.
Charles Stewart: Never mind. I'll take it off.
See more »


Referenced in The Four Seasons (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

Certainly Better Than a 1&1/2 out of 4
3 June 2012 | by (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

In the 1830's, the foppish son of a ship owner is shanghaied aboard his father's ship where he experiences the harsh realities of a brutal captain.

Leonard Maltin gives the movie a 1 & ½ out of 4. Shame on him. Sure, the film is no Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), and the script could be sharper. But, it's still a riveting shipboard drama, thanks to a fine cast, a good story, and a strong moral lesson. In the movie's pivotal role, Ladd transitions from a spoiled fop to a man among men in convincing fashion. The actor was never one to emote; at the same time, his low-key manner blends in well with the macho crew. And a heckuva crew it is—such forceful types as Dekker, Bendix, Donlevy, and, of course, a fearsome Howard DaSilva as the brutal captain. Mix and stir and you've got the ingredients of a highly combustible drama.

Of course, old Hollywood always created its own version of history. It's no secret the studios habitually bent fact in return for commercial appeal. So its not surprising that Paramount took liberties with the Dana book. For example, the script works a woman (Fernandez) onto the ship, which is not in the book. I expect they did that to burnish Ladd's appeal as a leading man and to widen audience appeal to include women-- never mind the facts of the book. As some anonymous wag put it-- never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.

Fortunately, it is a good story, even if the ship never leaves the sound stage. However, I wish director Farrow had made better use of close-ups to underscore dramatic high points. He's too impassive in what amounts to a very involving story. That aside, the movie certainly rates far better than a 1 & ½.

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