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In the English Channel John Sands, captain of a small rescue ship, finds the freighter Mary Deare drifting. Although there's only a little fire, the whole crew seems to have left the ship. John's already looking forward to a large salvage fee, but then he finds first officer Gerald Patch still on board, who sends him away. Although he doesn't understand yet what happened on the Mary Deere, Sands allows Patch to persuade him not to talk about what he saw on board and to drag out the official investigation of the incident. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
The task of bringing this novel to the screen was originally assigned to writer Ernest Lehman and director Alfred Hitchcock. Lehman eventually went to Hitchcock and told him that he couldn't come up with anything. Hitchcock told him not to worry about it, that they'd do something else. Lehman said, "But what about MGM?" Hitchcock replied "We won't tell them." That "something else" that they came up with was North by Northwest (1959). See more »
When Patch and Sands jumped off the salvage ship dressed in SCUBA gear, they already had their goggles over their eyes and the mouthpieces in their mouths. Seconds later they were swimming on the surface with goggles on top of their heads and mouthpieces out of their mouths, and putting those back on as they went underwater. See more »
John Sands is the captain of a small rescue ship, one night he finds the Mary Deare drifting towards him. Sensing an opportunity for salvage rights, he boards her thinking the crew has long since gone. Yet the Mary Deare has one survivor, the enigmatic first officer Gideon Patch. Patch is acting strange and refuses to make sense when probed by Sands about the events on the ship, but as the two men steady the ship and come together, Sands agrees to keep quiet about the Mary Deare until the official investigation of the incident is heard on dry land.
Gary Cooper (Patch) & Charlton Heston (Sands), two giants both in stature and iconic standing, come together here in a drama mystery that is awash with old fashioned values. Based on the Hammond Innes novel, The Wreck Of The Mary Deare fuses action and suspense and then cloaks it in a court room denouement. For practically the first hour of the piece we are left purely in the hands of Cooper and Heston, both men bouncing off each other with acting gravitas born out of sheer hard work, it really is a thrill to witness both men giving gusto.
That this film is rarely mentioned in classic circles comes as surprise to me, I can only think that many feel that both the leads here deserved a better project? Maybe that this pairing should have produced a more memorable piece? Yet the film was a positive joy for me, a hark back to days when the effects masters had to graft and sweat for a desired effect, a time when men were men, a time when the likes of Gary Cooper got the job done in spite of illness.
Also here a young fresh faced Richard Harris puts down his marker for the future, his Higgins is both arrogant and snide in equal measure. Although the accent is a bit bemusing to myself, it's a memorable turn that delivers all that's required. Emlyn Williams & Michael Redgrave flesh out the solid support, whilst Michael Anderson (The Dam Busters) directs with knowing and careful hands. The film feels as though it was released far earlier than 1959, but that is in no way a bad thing, in fact it's quite a pleasant surprise. 7.5/10
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