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Down to the Sea in Ships (1949)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Drama | 1949 (UK)
Whaling ship captain Bering Joy takes his grandson Jed on a whaling trip to teach him core life values while First Mate Dan Lunceford is tasked with tutoring Jed.


Henry Hathaway


John Lee Mahin (screenplay), Sy Bartlett (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Widmark ... First Mate Dan Lunceford
Lionel Barrymore ... Capt. Bering Joy
Dean Stockwell ... Jed Joy
Cecil Kellaway ... Slush Tubbs
Gene Lockhart ... Andrew L. Bush
Berry Kroeger ... Manchester
John McIntire ... Thatch
Harry Morgan ... Britton (as Henry Morgan)
Harry Davenport ... Benjamin Harris
Paul Harvey ... Capt. John Briggs
Jay C. Flippen ... Luke Sewell
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ruth Donnelly ... New Bedford Neighbor (scenes deleted)
Hubert E. Flanagan Hubert E. Flanagan ... Capt. Rumley (scenes deleted)
Connie Marshall ... New Bedford Neighbor (scenes deleted)


At the end of the 19th century, Massachusetts whaling ship captain Bering Joy takes his grandson Jed on a whaling expedition.The old captain wants to teach his spoiled grandson real life values such as honesty, courage, wisdom, fairness and hard work.At the same time, First Mate Dan Lunceford is entrusted with tutoring the boy in his schoolwork.A small competition and rivalry starts when both men,Captain Joy and First Mate Lunceford, strive to become young Jed's male role model.Captain Joy may have the wisdom dictated by his life's experiences but young Jed's imagination is rather captivated by Dan Lunceford's seafaring tales. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thar She Blows! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

1949 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Capitanes del mar See more »

Filming Locations:

Seal Beach, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox 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 April 30, 1951 with Lionel Barrymore and Richard Widmark reprising their film roles. See more »


Jed says that the longest river in the world is the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is the second largest in the USA behind the Missouri River and would be considered the longest river in the world. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: NEW BEDFORD 1887 See more »


Referenced in The Doctor and the Girl (1949) See more »


Arranged by Alfred Newman
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User Reviews

A sweet tale of courage, honesty, and wisdom
17 December 1999 | by DFC-2See all my reviews

A sentimental tale about an elderly captain who wants to bring his grandson to sea with him, but refuses to compromise his duty to his ship and crew even though it costs him everything he loves. Lionel Barrymore plays Captain Bering Joy as a sometimes-foolish old man vying for his grandson's affection with his first mate. Dean Stockwell plays the grandson who loves the sea and his grandfather, but is failing academically. Richard Widmark plays the young first mate who has been assigned the onerous task of teaching the boy his schoolwork. The beauty of this film for me is the way it celebrates wisdom, courage, fairness, and honesty in life. In the end, it is the log of a person's life and actions that matter more than their ability to fit any prevailing standard of knowledge or trendiness. Barrymore's character is old, ignorant, autocratic, and uncompromising, but he is also an example worthy of respect that the grandson can value for the rest of his life if he is wise enough to do so.

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