James Burke, after distinguishing himself as a midshipman in the British merchant marine, rapidly rises to the rank of executive officer, second in command of a ship. A broken foot necessitates that he be put ashore to heal. After his recovery, the very proud Jim - his pride rooted in his competence, which had made him a highly respected and admired naval officer - signs on as the executive officer of the Patna, a rusty tub manned by a third-rate crew overseen by a barbarous captain, that is transporting a group of Moslem pilgrims to Mecca. During a severe storm that causes the unseaworthy ship to founder, Jim abandons ship with the rest of the white crew without even lowering the other lifeboat for the passengers. The fleeing crew are prepared to swear they saw the Patna sink with all its passengers; however, in what Jim believes is a cosmic joke upon himself, it is revealed when they get into port on their lifeboat that the Patma did not sink but had been salvaged by a French vessel... Written by
Jon C. Hopwood
Based on the novel, this movie is not only representative of the period piece that Joseph Conrad's story was, but also of movie-making at that time (1965). It's an epic story told in the way that they did back then --sweeping landscapes, exotic locales, hundreds of extras, good performances and many questions regarding philosophical and practical values. At times a bit clunky and unexplained, the movie is a study in movie-making during that era.
It brings up the same issues that Conrad did in his book, sometimes so much so that the dialog feels as though it is dragging. O'Toole's character emotes plenty, despite acting flat for a good portion of the first third. The scene between him and James Mason is the spark of the piece. At 2:34, this movie flounders and drags in the middle. Still, it's a good piece to watch.
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