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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 <email@example.com>
A totally different story from the classic novel, but better.
The novel is all realism with no real plot and drama of an almost documentary character, while the film is more like the stuff of Jack London, Wolf-Larsen, Nordhoff & Hall and Kipling's "Captains Courageous". The most important feature of the book is also in the film, though: the humanity on board in spite of all the hard knuckles of inhumanity.
Richard H. Dana is in the film on board the ship all the same, and his part is no less interesting than in the book but taken from another angle, which makes his part even more interesting. He is the only one to enlist on the "Pilgrim" voluntarily while many of the others are shanghaied, and he volunteers for a very specific purpose.
Howard Da Silva plays expertly the part of the cruelly insensitive captain provoking a mutiny at any cost, it would seem, sacrificing sailors' lives for the sake of sailing records, William Bendix is always fascinating and raises every film some points, but here he is the brutal first mate with a double edge. Brian Donleavy is Dana and perfect together with Alan Ladd, who makes the main character and a very interesting one. To all this comes Victor Young's irresistible music, always golden, and the splendid thorough hands-on realism all the way, with fascinating insights into life on board. Barry Fitzgerald is the cook, directly out of "Wolf-Larsen" it would seem, and supplies a portion humour and lyricism. There are even some ladies, more prominent and attractive than in the book. The scurvy problem, which is not in the book, brings the drama.
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