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 New York City television premiere Wednesday 9 June 1948 on WPIX (Channel 11); in Lowell MA (serving the Boston Area), it first aired 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), in Philadelphia Tuesday 6 December 1949 on WCAU Channel 10), and in Los Angeles Sunday 26 February 1950 on KTLA (Channel 5). 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 »
In reviewing a film like The Adventures Of Martin Eden we have the benefit of over 60 years of hindsight and a whole career of Glenn Ford to look back on. Considering the type of roles that Ford mostly did in his career one could conclude he was typecast. Someone like John Garfield or later on Paul Newman would have been perfect in the part of the protagonist who is author Jack London.
Yet in Peter Ford's biography of his father, Glenn won the approval of London's widow Charmian. She said he quite reminded her of her late husband who died at 50 in 1916 and she even let him hear some gramophone recordings of Jack so he could play him to perfection.
What Charmian thought of the finished product we don't know because that Peter Ford didn't mention. Not hardly his father's fault but the film is nothing like the novel. Maybe at some point we'll get a true version with someone like Russell Crowe in the title role.
Glenn is a native genius, rough, unschooled with a burning desire to tell stories of and about the working masses with realism, not unlike Emile Zola in France a generation or two earlier. He goes to sea and gets to serve under a brutal captain in Ian MacDonald. One of his shipmates Stu Erwin rebels and gets 10 years in jail for it. Glenn's kept a diary, but can't get it admitted to court as evidence.
That diary is the beginning of his career, but he still wants to see justice for Erwin. Glenn's life also has time for romance with Erwin's sister Claire Trevor and ship owner's daughter Evelyn Keyes who though she likes Glenn is ultimately daddy Pierre Watkin's daughter.
Conditions on ships were as brutal as London describes them. Other than that this is not Jack London's book. Had he been alive I doubt he would have given his imprimatur to the finished product.
That being said Ford gives a fine performance in a role he never would have been considered for later in his career. He's ably assisted by Trevor and Keyes and the rest of the cast.
But this film definitely needs a more true remake and one that reflects London's rather pessimistic vision.
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