Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first ...
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Tom Merriam signs on the ship Altair as third officer under Captain Stone. At first things look good, Stone sees Merriam as a younger version of himself and Merriam sees Stone as the first adult to ever treat him as a friend. But after a couple strange deaths of crew members, Merriam begins to think Stone is a psychopathic madman obsessed with authority. He tries to tell others, but no one believes him, and it only makes Stone angry..Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Very shortly after its theatrical release in December of 1943, producer Val Lewton was sued for plagiarism by Samuel R. Golding and Norbert Faulkner, who claimed that Lewton based his script on a play which they had written and submitted to Lewton's office at the time "The Ghost Ship" was being developed. Although Lewton had the opportunity to settle out of court, he chose to have the case tried. Despite Lewton's claims that their manuscript was returned unread, the court ruled against Lewton and RKO (a decision upheld at appeal), and The Ghost Ship (1943) was withdrawn from circulation. It remained unavailable for viewing for the next 50 years until the copyright was not renewed and it fell into the public domain. RKO paid the authors $25,000 in damages and $5,000 for attorney fees and lost all rights to future income and the right to sell the film to television. See more »
When the Captain catches Tom at the gun locker, Tom's shadow profile is cast on the wall directly beside the Captain as though the lighting is on Tom's left side, yet Tom is directly facing the Captain and the lighting is on his right side. See more »
Finn, the Mute:
The man is dead. With his death, the waters of the sea are open to us. But there will be other deaths, and the agony of dying, before we come to land again.
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A Lesser Known Lewton Production That is Brilliant
I had never heard of this Val Lewton production till it recently showed up on television. Yet, as directed by Mark Robson, it is one of Lewton's very best.
Russell Wade as the young sailor who is menaced by mentally off-balance captain Richard Dix is handsome and very persuasive. What happened to this actor? I had never heard of him before, either.
The movie has a marvelously eerie, foreboding quality that is maintained throughout, from the blind soothsayer we see before Tom Merriam (Wade) boards the ship, through the sea chanteys, Caribbean songs, the heroic mute sailor.
I generally shy away from all-male casts but in this case, the claustrophobic nature of the plot would have been maintained better had it not been "opened out," albeit briefly, with the scene onshore involving the third billed admirer of Dix.
(Her friend, whom we see greeting Wade at the end in silhouette, is a plot device to imply a happy ending. This is OK because the damage to our nerves has already been done. Dix has already had several of his crew killed and has almost succeeded in doing away with Wade.)
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