[as the two of them drag Mace from his bunk]
What're you gonna' do with him?
We'll throw him off the stern.
He'll scream like a stuck pig.
Nobody'll hear him.
[They proceed to drag Mace, kicking and struggling, back to the stern of the ship, where they toss him into the sea]
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These two merchant sailors -- Broderick Crawford and Stewart Whitman -- get a crazy idea aboard a freighter. They're going to kill every officer and man aboard, waterlog the ship, radio for help, claim there was a mutiny and everyone left the ship but them, and claim the ship, worth a million bucks, for salvage.
Granted, the idea is slightly askew, but these guys are snipes, working down in the engine room and the temperature there runs around 116 degrees and sounds like the deepest pits of hell. That environment will drive anyone nuts. Besides, it's like the old joke. "How's your wife?" "Compared to WHAT?" If you put Crawford and Whitman next to the Manson Family or al Qaeda they look like paragons of rationality. So, okay, let's leave them some leeway, so to speak.
I'll skip the plot, I guess, because it doesn't require much in the way of explanation. The dialog lacks verve and credibility. "Anything can happen!" "Whoever destroyed the radios must have had a PURPOSE." And when the officers find three corpses in the engine room, someone says to Mason, "Do you realize the ENORMITY of this?" The acting doesn't require much comment either. Everybody involved delivers about what you'd expect. Mason is smooth, Crawford plays a junk man, Whitman is a little ratty, and none of the others stand out -- except Dorothy Dandridge. She can't act very well, but -- wow! What a dish. I don't know about "a million bucks" but Dorothy Dandridge could start a genuine mutiny alright.
I vaguely remember seeing this when it was released and, it may be hard for a contemporary viewer to understand but, like "The Sniper," which was released about the same time, it was shocking in its brutality. The theater suddenly went kind of quiet when Crawford deliberately picked off one of the crew members from a few feet away with a high-powered rifle. The sexy Dandridge was memorable too, although I don't recall that she quieted down the audience.
The Perrys, who produced, had a habit of using real locations for their shoots. "Cry Terror," another suspenser with James Mason, made good use of New York locations. And they actually sunk a liner for one of their movies, something like, "The Last Voyage." I'm glad they never made a movie about the end of the world.
The story isn't really a grabber and the acting is no more than routine but this is worth seeing, if only because it gives you a chance to feel what it's really like to be on a ship, not a mockup of the kind that John Wayne sails through with such ease. The ship, by the way, is pretty ship shape and not at all a rust bucket. She's also high in the water because she's carrying no cargo.
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