Martin Eden (Glenn Ford) is a sailor whose brutal treatment at the hands of the Bligh-like skipper, Captain "Butch" Raglan (Ian MacDonald), of the "hellship" on which he is serving prompts him to bring to pubic attention , through the publication of his memoirs, the seaman's unenviable lot. The long-coming but eventual publication of the harrowing document results not only in bringing the brutal captain to justice, but also the freeing of a fellow sailor, Joe Dawson (Stuart Erwin), wrongly accused of mutiny.Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This film received its earliest documented telecasts in New York City Wednesday 9 June 1948 on WPIX (Channel 11), in Los Angeles Sunday 18 July 1948 on KTLA (Channel 5), in Lowell MA (serving the Boston Area) Saturday 18 September 1948 on WBZ (Channel 4), in Detroit Sunday 31 October 1948 on WJBK (Channel 2), in St. Louis Saturday 20 November 1948 on KSD (Channel 5), in Atlanta Tuesday 28 December 1948 on WSB (Channel 8), in San Francisco Saturday 12 February 1949 on freshly launched KPIX (Channel 5), in Cincinnati Saturday 19 February 1949 on WLW-T (Channel 4), in Dayton Monday 21 March 1949 on WLW-D (Channel 5), in Salt Lake City Sunday 27 November 1949 on KDYL (Channel 4), in Chicago Monday 5 December 1949 on WENR (Channel 7) and in Philadelphia Tuesday 6 December 1949 on WCAU Channel 10). See more »
Your Honor, I've been handed this same magoo for thirteen days. You let Captain Butch Raglan come in here and tell a pack of lies that is fiction; he goes back to sea like a hero. I got the truth here. Why don't you make Old Man Morley come down here and listen to what goes on aboard his stinking death wagons? Why are you all so afraid of the truth?
One more word, young man and I'll have to hold you in contempt of court.
Alright, Your Honor. You're the skipper here. But I'll make you listen ...
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The opening credits are displayed on a series of front covers of the "San Francisco Express" newspaper. See more »
Glenn Ford gives a rousing performance as the title character. This was still early in his career, before the actor settled into his more familiar low-key film persona. But his spirit here is well placed since Eden has to struggle against social forces far stronger than he. Based on Jack London's autobiography, the screenplay shows how narrow the literary parameters were in London's day. Fiction served mainly as escapism for the leisure class and was a long way from the kind of raw reality Eden sought to portray. Naturally, the moneyed class didn't want to read about how tough life was for the industrial workingman. Thus, more familiar types of literary realism, such as London-Eden's, were generally suppressed. This is an important part of the screenplay and offers a glimpse of the barrier certain kinds of authors faced in getting published.
The movie's central crux, however, is Eden's having to choose between staying with his working class roots, symbolized by Connie (Trevor), or ascending to the moneyed class with Ruth (Keyes). On a more abstract plane, it's also a contest between Truth with a capital T, on one side, and social position, on the other. Thus, it's also a movie of conflicting ideals.
Basically, the movie starts fast, sags somewhat in the middle, and rev's-up for the climax. In fact, the first part, aboard ship, amounts to a hard act to follow. Frankly, I could have done without some of the ritual brawling with Raglan (MacDonald), which seems added mainly for action's sake. Nonetheless, it's a revealing little film with an energetic turn from headliner Ford and a good glimpse of the literary world, circa 1900.
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