12 user 5 critic

Two Years Before the Mast (1946)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama | 22 November 1946 (USA)
The playboy son of a wealthy shipping magnate discovers at first hand the desperate privations suffered by the crew of one of his fathers ships when he is unwillingly pressganged aboard.


John Farrow


Seton I. Miller (screenplay), George Bruce (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


Learn more

More Like This 

China (1943)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

During the Japanese invasion of China, a cynical, macho profiteer meets a compassionate, beautiful schoolteacher.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Loretta Young, Alan Ladd, William Bendix
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Emily Blair is rich and deaf. Doctor Vance, who grew up poor in Blairtown, is working on a serum to cure deafness which he tries on Emily. It doesn't work. Her sister is carrying on an ... See full summary »

Director: Irving Pichel
Stars: Alan Ladd, Loretta Young, Susan Hayward
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

The staff of a record factory drown their sorrows at Duffy's Tavern, while the company owner faces threats of bankruptcy.

Director: Hal Walker
Stars: Ed Gardner, Bing Crosby, Betty Hutton
Botany Bay (1952)
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

In 1787, American medical student Hugh Tallant and British convicts are sent from London to New South Wales on a ship commanded by the evil Captain Gilbert.

Director: John Farrow
Stars: Alan Ladd, James Mason, Patricia Medina
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A meek milquetoast of a clerk is mistaken for Public Enemy #1, and the notorious killer takes advantage of the situation.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Jean Arthur, Arthur Hohl
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A city girl on a bus tour of the West encounters a handsome rodeo cowboy who helps her forget her simpy city suitors.

Director: William A. Seiter
Stars: Jean Arthur, John Wayne, Charles Winninger
Variety Girl (1947)
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Dozens of star and character-actor cameos and a message about the Variety Club (show-business charity) are woven into a framework about two hopeful young ladies who come to Hollywood, ... See full summary »

Director: George Marshall
Stars: Mary Hatcher, Olga San Juan, DeForest Kelley
History | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1876 Philadelphia, two sisters vie for the affections of a Frenchman who's come to town to prepare the French pavilion for the Centennial exposition.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Jeanne Crain, Cornel Wilde, Linda Darnell
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Born in a French prison in 1775, François Eugène Vidocq becomes a professional thief and is later appointed chief of Parisian police.

Director: Douglas Sirk
Stars: George Sanders, Signe Hasso, Carole Landis
Black Widow (1954)
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young writer insinuates herself into the life of a Broadway producer.

Director: Nunnally Johnson
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An unscrupulous agent for the Borgias suffers a change of heart when asked to betray a noble count and his much younger, very beautiful wife.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Wanda Hendrix
Tumbleweed (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a wagon train is wiped-out by the Yaqui Indians, the surviving guide Jim Harvey is accused of desertion and cowardice but Jim escapes the town jail in search of the truth.

Director: Nathan Juran
Stars: Audie Murphy, Lori Nelson, Chill Wills


Complete credited cast:
Alan Ladd ... Charles Stewart
Brian Donlevy ... Richard Henry Dana
William Bendix ... First Mate Amazeen
Barry Fitzgerald ... Terence O'Feenaghty
Howard Da Silva ... Captain Francis A. Thompson
Esther Fernández ... Maria Dominguez
Albert Dekker ... Brown
Luis Van Rooten Luis Van Rooten ... 2nd Mate Foster
Darryl Hickman ... Sam Hooper
Roman Bohnen ... Macklin
Ray Collins ... Gordon Stewart
Theodore Newton ... Hayes
Tom Powers ... Bellamer
James Burke ... Carrick
Frank Faylen ... Hansen


Charles Stewart, the "Pilgrim" owner's playboy son, finds himself shanghaied on his father's ship commanded by cruel Captain Thompson. When scurvy breaks out he leads a mutiny and is slapped in irons. Floggings and torture abound. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ship | scurvy | flogging | sailor | murder | See All (10) »


All the Lassies Love this LADD See more »


Adventure | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

22 November 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Hiena dos Mares See more »


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 22, 1947 with Alan Ladd reprising his film role. See more »


Captain Francis A. Thompson: Mr. Foster, remove his shirt.
2nd Mate Foster: Aye, aye, sir.
Charles Stewart: Never mind. I'll take it off.
See more »


Referenced in Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life (1997) See more »


Take Back the Heart
Written by Claribel (Charlotte Arlington Barnard) and Mrs. G.R. Gifford
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Marry Those Pelican Hooks And Be Quick About It!
17 June 2017 | by rmax304823See all my reviews

It's been years since I read the book but as I remember it there was no Allan Ladd figure in it, a ne'er do well who is shanghaied aboard the cargo ship Pilgrim. There was just Richard Henry Dana who had dropped out of Harvard because of faulty vision and signed aboard because he thought it might help clear his sight. He didn't go back to college but he left an enduring and compelling account of his trip in the 1840s from Boston to the California coast, and his return aboard the Alert.

The record wasn't only accurate. It was colorful and even lyrical. Herman Melville acknowledged it as an inspiration for Moby Dick. It's an amazingly evocative narrative. Dana Point in southern California is named after him. He and his mates stood atop the cliffs and flung cow hides down to the sailors below, to be loaded aboard the ship.

California at the time was a province of Mexico, and places like San Francisco ("Yerba Buena") and Los Angeles were villages surrounded by large Spanish land grants and ranches. Dana was a humanitarian and, coming from New England, an anti-slavery activist. His purpose was to leave an accurate record of the life of sailors aboard American ships, documenting their characters and their mistreatment.

That's about what I remember from the book. The 1946 movie with Allan Ladd seems to owe a good deal to Jack London's "Sea Wolf", the story of a wealthy young shipwreck survivor picked up by a ship and coerced into working as a members of the crew by a captain who was a madman. This skipper, Howard Da Silva, isn't nuts but insists the men carry out his wishes as if they were the word of God. Maybe Captain Bligh was the inspiration here.

Life on the Pilgram is a rough life. Ladd is assigned the most menial of duties on the deck force while a very young stowaway is appointed cook's helper. In terms of working hours, cooks have one of the roughest jobs of all. They don't strain their muscles, as we had to on the deck force of a Coast Guard cutter, USCGC Gresham, but they have to get up before any of the rest of the crew and start preparing breakfast. And they don't stop working until they've finished cleaning up after the last meal of the day, hours after the day workers have stopped.

The deck force is no picnic either. Everyone on my ship knew the story (possibly "fake news") of the boatswain's mate on a neighboring ship who slapped a seaman across the face and gave him a bloody nose, then made him get on his knees and holystone the blood off the wooden deck. The Chief BM on the Gresham went no farther than raising fist over me and threatening to belt me. Oh, it was rough duty. The blond young Swedish maids helped ease the pain.

Where was I? Yes, no sea duty today compares to what these guys go through -- twenty lashes for looking cross-eye at an officer, and so forth. What's always puzzled me is, if they're going to administer lashes, why do they always rip the shirt down his back? Why not ask him to take it off? Brian Donlevy plays Richard Henry Dana, writing the book in his spare time.

The book, as I say, was a literary gem. Dana captured the experience of working on a sailing ship, including the floggings and the scurvy. (Viz: "Limeys.") Beyond that he gave us treats on landfalls, storms, and ice bergs. Da Silva is the uncompromising and humorless captain. William Bendix is the brutal First Mate Amazeen who gets to belt Ladd on the face. If the producers needed someone to beat hell out of Ladd, more than once it was Bendix. The two men were friends, despite a temporary falling out over Ladd's lack of interest in enlisting during the war.

In Pernambuco, the Pilgrim acquires a passenger -- a beautiful young woman, what else? Compare this to The Sea Wolf, which also picks up a pretty young girl and Jack London's prose turns to mush. Actually, here, Esther Fernández as the requisite romantic role, is quite attractive and gives a respectable performance. Her career flourished in her native Mexico.

I don't think I'll give away the ending except to say there is a violent clash, some deaths, and a victory of sorts. You'll probably enjoy the move. It's aglow with resentment and tension.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 12 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed