John Stuart encounters adventure on a steamer to Singapore
"Verdict of the Sea" (1932) looks like a combination silent and
early-talkie movie. On occasion, it employs what seem to be a few
dubbed parts filmed silently and some silent film techniques of
story-telling. But for the most part, it plays like an early talkie
with a fair amount of awkwardness about the way that the story is told.
This is mainly in stilted acting but also the timing of shots and
editing. It's out on DVD and at least looks quite good. A sample may be
found on Youtube and the distributor writes "A silent-era idol whose
enormous popularity was undiminished by the advent of sound, John
Stuart stars as a former doctor who meets with unexpected adventure
when he joins the crew of a tramp steamer in this rare early British
talkie. Verdict of the Sea is featured here in a brand-new transfer
from the original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect
The movie features actual footage of a steamer headed for Singapore.
The film has a recreation of an island that uses plenty of costumed
extras providing a good South Sea or Philippine ambiance that involves
some treachery. Stuart competes with first-mate Cyril McLaglen for the
affections of the captain's daughter (Moira Lynd). McLaglen was the
brother of Victor and uncle of Andrew V. McLaglen. He's well-cast in a
part that calls for a rough and physical presence. Much of the action
is driven by the lure of diamonds on the island. Look out also for a
storm sequence involving a great deal of gushing water.
I'd rate this 4 to 5; it's not that good of a movie. Unless you are
interested in early British short features for one reason or another,
you need not go out of your way to catch this. I wanted to satisfy my
curiosity about how these re-releases look and about how the early
British cinema handled an adventure story as opposed to some stuffy
drawing room affair.
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