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Down to the Sea in Ships (1949)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 1949 (UK)
Whaling ship captain Bering Joy takes his grandson Jed on a whaling trip to teach him core life values while First Mate Dan Lunceford is tasked with tutoring Jed.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Jed Joy
Slush Tubbs
Andrew L. Bush
Berry Kroeger ...
Britton (as Henry Morgan)
Benjamin Harris
Luke Sewell
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
New Bedford Neighbor (scenes deleted)
Hubert E. Flanagan ...
Capt. Rumley (scenes deleted)
New Bedford Neighbor (scenes deleted)


At the end of the 19th century, Massachusetts whaling ship captain Bering Joy takes his grandson Jed on a whaling expedition.The old captain wants to teach his spoiled grandson real life values such as honesty, courage, wisdom, fairness and hard work.At the same time, First Mate Dan Lunceford is entrusted with tutoring the boy in his schoolwork.A small competition and rivalry starts when both men,Captain Joy and First Mate Lunceford, strive to become young Jed's male role model.Captain Joy may have the wisdom dictated by his life's experiences but young Jed's imagination is rather captivated by Dan Lunceford's seafaring tales. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thar She Blows!


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Release Date:

1949 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Capitães do Mar  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ships' cooks were often nicknamed "Slush" or Slushy". The term comes from the fact that they had to feed the crew with salt pork or salt beef. The meat would be put into a pot and boiled and the grease that came to the surface was called "slush" and was skimmed off and saved. The sailors often smeared it on ships' biscuit in place of butter. Any excess at the end of the voyage was sold to soap makers or candle makers and the proceeds were used to buy things for the ship, hence the term "Slush Fund". See more »


Jed says that the longest river in the world is the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is the second largest in the USA behind the Missouri River and would be considered the longest river in the world. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: NEW BEDFORD 1887 See more »


Referenced in The Doctor and the Girl (1949) See more »


Rolling Home
Arranged by Cyril J. Mockridge and Edward B. Powell
See more »

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User Reviews

All great films are about relationships
22 August 2010 | by See all my reviews

And this is one of the great films. It is not a story about whaling, though it mostly takes place on a whaling ship and has wonderful scenes about life on a whaling ship. It is the story of a boy's relationship to two men, two men's relationships to to the boy, and the relationship of all three to life.

Lionel Barrymore, in one of his last roles, and like his character only able to move about with difficulty using crutches, raises the presentation to rarefied company with a masterful performance. He is able to bring all the gruffness of his Henry Potter role of "It's A Wonderful Life," but with the humanity he was not allowed to show in the latter. That he loves his grandson with all his heart, and feels great pride in him, is made evident in the endearing shore side preamble. But aboard the vessel of which he is Master, his way is to change into another persona completely; one in which he dare not show the slightest feelings for the boy. As Master, he is second only to God for all his crew, and to this role he must devote his entire soul 24 hours a day.

A vacuum thus develops in his relationship with the boy, and into this vacuum Richard Widmark, the new Mate of the vessel, is thrust. He is of the age the boy's dead father would have been, and has duties and the opportunity to interact with the boy in ways Barrymore cannot, and has qualities which naturally lead him to become the father figure. Initially not interested in the human qualities the boy represents, he is before long won over, and replaces Barrymore in the boy's affections.

Not until a crisis overtakes the ship's company is the alienation between Barrymore and the boy overcome. With Widmark's efforts propelling him, the boy returns to his grandfather's affection and the two are reunited in their hearts, and the gulf that has lately divided them despite their proximity aboard ship falls away like it was never there.

Widmark's performance is very able indeed in his role of importance and some nuance. This is one of his finest performances, certainly one of his most human, and at the end most agreeable. But it is the 13 year old Dean Stockwell who cements the story with his performance of a lifetime. The way he makes his character grow from a boy to a young man during the film, the way he conveys the range of human feelings which is required of his role, is faultless and quite breathtaking.

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