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The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea (1976)

After his father dies, a disturbed young boy plots to take revenge on the new man in his mother's life.



(novel), (written for the screen by)

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Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Anne Osborne
Jim Cameron
Jonathan Kahn ...
Jonathan Osborne
Margo Cunningham ...
Elizabeth Palmer
Earl Rhodes ...
Paul Tropea ...
Number Two
Gary Lock ...
Number Four
Stephen Black ...
Number Five
Peter Clapham ...
Richard Pettit
Jennifer Tolman ...
Mary Ingram


Widowed now for close to four years, Anne Osborne, who now operates the antiques shop formerly owned by her husband David, and their son, Jonathan Osborne, live in a small, English seaside town. Both Anne and Jonathan still miss David even after all these years. Going through puberty, Jonathan uses something he finds in his bedroom to explore the emerging thoughts of sexuality going through his mind. Although Anne knows Jonathan sneaks out of the house early in the morning against her orders, she is unaware that he is attending meetings of a secret society of five boys, who refer to each other only by a cardinal number, their rank within the group as assigned by "The Chief", number one. The Chief is an arrogant, sadistic pseudo-intellectual who needs to show his power and dominance over the other four in whatever means possible. He largely considers them immature as he spouts off his Nietzschean philosophies, centering on that adults create rules that ultimately disrupt the natural ... Written by Huggo

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Like the act of love, this film must be experienced from beginning to end. Therefore no one will be seated once the picture starts. See more »


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 April 1976 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der Weg allen Fleisches  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title of this picture's source Japanese "Gogo no Eiko" story translates literally into the English language as "The Afternoon Towing". See more »


Referenced in Rewind This! (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

Disturbing and Atmospheric Drama
17 October 2007 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

An unforgettable and profoundly disturbing story centered on a widow, Anne, and her only son, Jonathan, in a remote English seaside town. Jonathan belongs to a gang led by a precociously intelligent sociopath known only as Chief, who through sheer force of will and intellect, indoctrinates them with a quasi-Neitzchean philosophy of ultimate superiority and the non-existence of morality. When Kris Kristofferson's Captain Jim arrives in town, and strikes up a passionate relationship with the lonely Anne, Jonathan sees him as a heroic masculine prototype, removed from society and living a 'true' life on the open sea. But when the Captain decides to settle down and marry Anne, Jonathan takes it as an ultimate and unforgivable betrayal, and exacts a terrible revenge.

Based on the 1963 Mishima novel, "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea" hints at many themes, from Jonathan's Oedipal obsession with spying on his mother's bedroom to his physical admiration of the Captain that verges on latent homosexuality. The atmosphere, masterfully created by veteran cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, is one of darkly brooding clouds, gray seas, and an air that constantly threatens rain. The (in)famous sex scenes are really not that explicit, and the casual violence exhibited by the children is far more shocking than any glimpse of breast or buttock.

The film, for all its brilliantly evocative atmosphere, excellent performances, and quietly brooding menace, is not without its flaws. The score is terrible, all mawkish piano and sickly clarinet. It is often overly intrusive and distracts from the overall sense of ripe stillness that director Carlino conjures throughout the film. But in general, the film is a remarkable experience, and one that any viewer is unlikely to forget quickly.

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