6.9/10
218
10 user 6 critic

The Beachcomber (1938)

Vessel of Wrath (original title)
G | | Drama | 25 December 1938 (USA)
In the Dutch islands, the sister of a pious missionary attempts to reform a womanizing, drunken beach bum.

Director:

Erich Pommer

Writers:

W. Somerset Maugham (short story "Vessel of Wrath"), Bartlett Cormack (written for the screen by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Laughton ... Ginger Ted' Wilson
Elsa Lanchester ... Martha Jones
Robert Newton ... The Controleur
Tyrone Guthrie ... Dr. Owen Jones
Eliot Makeham ... The Native Head Clerk
Dolly Mollinger ... Lia
D.A. Ward D.A. Ward ... Albert
J. Solomon J. Solomon ... Sgt. Henrik
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Storyline

In the Dutch islands, the sister of a pious missionary attempts to reform a womanizing, drunken beach bum.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 December 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Beachcomber See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film received its initial USA telecasts in Cincinnati Sunday 2 October 1949 on WLW-T (Channel 4), in Los Angeles Sunday 16 October 1949 on KTLA (Channel 5), in Chicago Sunday 30 October 1949 on WGN (Channel 9), in Detroit Sunday 6 November 1949 on WWJ (Channel 4), in Atlanta Wednesday 23 November 1949 on WSB (Channel 8), and in New York City Friday 10 March 1950 on WPIX (Channel 11). See more »

Goofs

The shadows on Ginger Ted's verandah change between shots in the opening scenes. In the first shot most of the verandah is in muted shadow, in the next most of it is in full sun with clear shadows. Later, his dog is seen sitting on the verandah in full sun late in the day with the shadows in the same place as earlier. See more »

Connections

Remade as The Beachcomber (1954) See more »

Soundtracks

Sailing, Sailing (Over the Bounding Main)
(uncredited)
Sung by Ginger Ted
Written by Godfrey Marks
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Reforming A Reprobate
29 September 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Compared to Charles Laughton in Vessel of Wrath, Cary Grant in Father Goose and Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen look they stepped out from a Savile Row tailor.

They don't know what to do with him over in the Dutch East Indies. He's a lazy, shiftless bum who won't work, won't pay his debts and is leading the natives that good Christian missionaries Elsa Lanchester and her brother Tyrone Guthrie are trying to convert into sober, hardworking Protestants.

My guess is that Laughton is in the Dutch territories because he's been kicked out of British island possessions for exactly the same reasons. As it is he has a friend in the local magistrate Robert Newton. But Newton's patience is being tried. The British would say he'd gone native.

He exiles Laughton after Laughton tried to disgrace one of Elsa Lanchester's pupils. But wouldn't you know it, fate casts Elsa right on the island that Laughton is exiled to, doing 'hard labor.' A few things happen and she decides maybe she should try to reform him as opposed to ostracism.

Laughton and Lanchester give a couple of cute performances about some middle-aged people finding romance, of course anticipating The African Queen by 13 years. Lanchester has a much tougher reforming Laughton than Kate Hepburn did with Humphrey Bogart. Bogey may have been seedy, but he did own his own business.

In a way this story is sort of Somerset Maugham's yin to the yang of Rain. Both stories are based in the tropics with missionaries as their leading characters, but this one is essentially comedic, although there are some serious events here like a typhoid out break, where Laughton proves invaluable in dealing with the natives.

Charles and Elsa give us a grand show, don't miss it.

Lanchester has a much tougher job


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