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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>
The press gang of the "Pilgrim" recruits a crew and the ship sets sail. Captain Thompson (Howard Da Silva) is only concerned with breaking speed records and has First Mate Amazeen (William Bendix) and Second Mate Foster (Luis Van Rooten) as his side-kicks to run discipline with a rod of iron. There are floggings, rations, neglect and heartless sea burials on his journey. The crew who suffer include Charles Stewart (Alan Ladd), Henry Dana (Brian Donlevy) and Brown (Albert Dekker). Dana keeps an incident log which will change merchant sea law forever. It becomes published and is called "Two Years Before The Mast"
This is a true-life account of conditions at the time and is based upon a book that introduced maritime law. The cast are all good - Howard Da Silva makes an excellent bad guy. I don't usually like children in films but the stowaway Sam Hooper (Daryl Hickman) isn't as annoying as I feared he might be, and his inclusion in the story has relevance in how the crew relate to Charles. Indeed, he also brings out a human side to Mr Amazeen. However, I am not sure what the point of having the 2 passengers was - the film dragged whenever Maria (Esther Fernandez) was on screen. It was good to watch Charles's transformation from a dislikeable oik to a man with a conscience. There were also some humorous moments thrown in, eg, when Charles goes back to eat the chicken he has stolen in front of the crew that hate him. It's a good film but I never understand the point in scrubbing the decks. What's that about?
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