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In 1787 prisoners from London's Newgate Gaol are to be shipped to New South Wales. Hugh Tallant is an American medical student whom, we learn at sea, was falsely imprisoned. Because of his attempt to escape, evil Captain Gilbert decides to return him to England on charges of mutiny. Events, including arrival of plague, keep Tallant busy in New South Wales. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Other reviewers of Botany Bay have complained about the lack of location shooting in this film. Two very good reasons for Paramount's decision to opt for the back lot. First it was expensive to go to Australia for an American company. I'm sure that there are Aussie films that deal with this particular portion of their history far better than Botany Bay.
But secondly this was the last picture on Alan Ladd's Paramount contract. He and his agent/wife Sue Carol made a decision to move to Warner Brothers so Paramount was getting rid of the last film on his contract. They were not about to spend big bucks promoting a star who wasn't going to be bringing in more box office for them.
Having said that Botany Bay is not a bad film and it certainly did give American audiences some idea about the founding of Australia as a haven for convict prisoners. One of our original 13 colonies, Georgia, was founded for just that reason also, but here a whole continent was devoted to same.
Ladd plays an American accused of being a highwayman in Great Britain. The fact he was an American probably played some role in his conviction so shortly after the American Revolution in the 1780s. He's saved from the hangman by this offer of pardon to go to Australia and he travels on a crowded ship, skippered by a sadistic captain.
Who is played by James Mason who basically steals the film. The novel on which this is based is by Nordhoff and Hall who wrote Mutiny on the Bounty and there's a whole lot of Captain Bligh in Mason. We've also got Patricia Medina, a saucy wench who likes Ladd, but flirts with Mason for her survival on the ship in some comfort.
Not a bad film, but not the greatest of send offs for one of Paramount's biggest stars.
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