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Two Years Before the Mast (1946)

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.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
First Mate Amazeen
Terence O'Feenaghty
Captain Francis A. Thompson
Esther Fernández ...
Maria Dominguez
Luis Van Rooten ...
2nd Mate Foster
Sam Hooper
Roman Bohnen ...
Gordon Stewart
Theodore Newton ...
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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ship | scurvy | flogging | sailor | murder | See All (10) »


The Greatest of All Adventure Classics!


Drama | Adventure


See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

22 November 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Hiena dos Mares  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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. Its first telecast in Philadelphia took place Tuesday 6 January 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10); its New York City television premiere took place Monday 26 January 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2). 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 Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

Mutiny on the Pilgrim
26 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

By several respects ,some kind of updated "Captain courageous" (Victor Fleming ,1937).The rich kid (Alan Ladd) has grown up and he is still frivolous ,part of the young jet set ,drinking and picking up girls in the low dives of the harbor.When dad learns that his boy is on his own ship,in the clutch of a -rather sadistic- captain ,he does not panic and wisely mumbles something like " it 'll make a man of him" ;which is not entirely false.Not only ,the boy born silver spoon in hand will learn the harsh realities of life ,but he'll also feel for his unfortunate shipmates (many of them poor press-ganged aboard victims like himself ).

Although the movie is centered on Ladd's misadventures ,it actually depicts "Henry Dana's crusade to expose mistreatment of men at sea" (Maltin).But the reviewer is wrong when he writes that it is a "badly scripted story":in fact only the female character gets in the way and the ending is botched.All that remains is absorbing ,the standout being for me the ship's boy.Farrow was better at film noir ,but his attempt at an adventures movies is recommendable.

Like this ? try these ....

"Mutiny on the Bounty" (Frank Lloyd's 1935 version is still the best) "Captain Courageous" (Fleming,1937) "Down to the sea in ships" (Henry Hathaway,1949) "Ghost Ship" (Mark Robson/Val Lewton,1943) "White squall" (Ridley Scott,1996)

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