Maritime Monday for August 26th, 2013: Part VII; The Final Reel
Skin Diving Mermaids and Ruthless Frogmen!
Marie Dressler plays the title character, tugboat captain Annie Brennan, in this 1933 Hollywood box office hit. Her husband Terry (Wallace Beery) is a lazy, bragging drunk. Robert Young plays their ambitious son Alec who winds up as captain of a fancy ocean liner.
The ocean liner’s owner is Red Severn (Willard Robertson), whose daughter Pat (Maureen O’Sullivan) is the object of Alec’s longings. Young tries to get his mother to leave his father and join him on the ocean liner, but she refuses out of love for her husband and her tugboat. +
abv rt: larger
A robust, full-bodied woman of very plain features, Marie Dressler acteed in comic films which were very popular with the movie-going public and equally lucrative for MGM. Although past sixty years of age, she quickly became Hollywood’s number one box-office attraction, and stayed on top until her death.
Dressler appeared in more than forty films, and achieved her greatest successes in talking pictures made during the last years of her life. Always seeing herself as physically unattractive, she wrote an autobiography titled, The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling. Her career came to an abrupt end when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1934.
Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery first teamed up in the drama Min and Bill (1930) based on Lorna Moon‘s novel Dark Star. The movie tells the story of dockside innkeeper Min’s tribulations as she tries to protect the innocence of her adopted daughter Nancy, all while loving and fighting with boozy fisherman Bill, who resides at the inn.
The two are the guardians for a young girl (Dorothy Jordan) whose mother deserted her, but they lose custody of the girl to truant officers. The couple scrape up enough money to get the child back and into a boarding school, where she finds love with a wealthy young man. +
This film was such a runaway hit that it boosted both to superstar status. Dressler won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1931 for her performance in this film.
Two Years Before the Mast is a book by the American author Richard Henry Dana, Jr., published in 1840, having been written after a two-year sea voyage starting in 1834. A film adaptation under the same name was released in 1946.
While an undergraduate at Harvard College, Dana had an attack of the measles which affected his vision. Thinking it might help his sight, Dana left Harvard to enlist as a common sailor on a voyage around Cape Horn on the brig Pilgrim. He returned to Massachusetts two years later aboard the Alert (which left California sooner than the Pilgrim). rt: Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
He kept a diary throughout the voyage, and, after returning, he penned what is now considered an American classic. His writing evidences his later sympathy for the lower classes; he later became a prominent anti-slavery activist and helped found the Free Soil Party.
Dana did not set out to write Two Years Before the Mast as a sea adventure, but to highlight how poorly common sailors were treated on ships. In the book, which takes place between 1834 and 1836, Dana gives a vivid account of “the life of a common sailor at sea as it really is”. It quickly became a best seller.
Scurvy was a deadly scourge for sailors
The History of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
“The scurvy had begun to show itself on board. One man had it so badly as to be disabled and off duty, and the English lad, Ben, was in a dreadful state, and was daily growing worse. His legs swelled and pained him so that he could not walk; his flesh lost its elasticity, so that if pressed in it would not return to its shape; and his gums swelled until he could not open his mouth. His breath, too, became very offensive; he lost all strength and spirit; could eat nothing; grew worse every day; and, in fact, unless something was done for him, would be a dead man in a week, at the rate at which he was sinking…”
Charles Stewart (), the wealthy son of a Boston shipowner, is hijacked by Amazeen ( ), the first mate on a ship bound for California. Francis Thompson ( ) is the tyrannical captain of the Pilgrim who was booted out of the U.S. Navy for mistreating his sailors. Now he wants to set a record sailing time, and he and Amazeen mete out severe punishment for the slightest of infractions.
Malnutrition sets in, the men develop scurvy and begin to mutiny. Stewart allies himself with the author Dana (Brian Donlevy), whose brother died on one of Captain Thompson’s previous voyages. Dana wants to write an expose of Thompson. Stewart steals guns and tries to take over the ship, but Amazeen subdues and imprisons him. The film was shot on a Hollywood set, but with devices on the set that simulate rolling waves so effectively that much of the cast got seasick. + Alan Ladd injured his back during filming and had to miss a week of shooting. +
Adventure film based on Homer‘s epic poem Odyssey — the tremendous success of this film led to the making of Hercules (1957) + and kicked off the Italian “Sword and Sandal” film-making craze of the 1960’s.
This very expensive Italian-made adaptation of Homer’s “The Odyssey” stars Kirk Douglas as seafaring hero Ulysses. The story begins, as ever, with Ulysses leaving his faithful wife Penelope (Silvano Magnano) behind as he goes off to fight in the Trojan Wars. Having the poor taste to set himself above the gods after a stunning military victory, Ulysses is doomed to journey aimlessly across the sea until he can make amends. +
rt: the Cyclops
Mara Corday stars as skin-diving journalist Val Hudson. While swimming in Yokohama Bay, Val comes across the body of a murdered fisherman, who carries nearly $2000 on his person. The money is part of a $2 million cache which was being transported by a naval vessel during WW II. The ship was sunk by the Japanese and considered irretrievably lost, until now.
Joining Val in her search for the rest of the money are her boyfriend, Navy lieutenant Brad Chase (Pat Conway); police lieutenant Mike Travis (Dan Seymour); and mystery man Sam Marvin (Ralph Clanton). Spoiler Alert: (you guessed it) one of the treasure-seekers is a low-down, dirty crook. +
1960 Italian-American war film – Captain Bernhard Rogge commands the German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis, the German navy raider, which from May 1940 to November 1941 sank many enemy merchant ships. Atlantis was sunk on 22 November 1941 by the British cruiser HMS Devonshire. (more)
Atlantis (HSK-2, Schiff 16)
Atlantis (HSK 2), known to the Kriegsmarine as Schiff 16 and to the Royal Navy as Raider-C, was a converted German Hilfskreuzer (auxiliary cruiser), or merchant/ commerce raider) of the Kriegsmarine. During WWII, she traveled more than 161,000 km (100,000 mi) in 602 days, and sank or captured 22 ships totaling 144,384 t (142,104 long tons). Atlantis was second only to Pinguin in tonnage destroyed, and had the longest raiding career of any German commerce raider in either world war.
Formerly the cargo ship Goldenfels, she was built by Bremer Vulkan in 1937, and was owned and operated by DDG Hansa, Bremen. In late 1939 she was requisitioned by the Kriegsmarine and converted into a warship by DeSchiMAG, Bremen, and was commissioned as the commerce raider Atlantis in November 1939. (more on wikipedia)
In this film, Van Heflin stars as KapitÃ¤n zur See Bernhard Rogge, who received the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross for his stunning accomplishments.
Off the coast of Cuba, two SCUBA divers searching for sunken treasure think they’ve hit the jackpot when they find a 17th century treasure ship on the sea floor, teetering on the edge of a 300 foot cliff. (more on IMDb)
For its world premiere, Underwater was projected on a submerged movie screen at Silver Springs Florida, and the invited guests were encouraged to don aqualungs and bathing suits so that they could watch the picture while swimming! A similar publicity ploy was utilized nine years later at Marineland of the Pacific for the premiere of The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1955). +
Enterprising individuals have decided that if humans are going to blow themselves sky-high at some point in the future then it might be a good idea to have an escape hatch down at the bottom of the ocean. And so a series of underwater living units are carefully created and tested until it seems like they are ready for residents to move in. What no one considers is that the sea floor and the sea itself may not be as stable as they anticipate. +
see also: The Underwater City – One Sheet
The many undersea exploits of a Navy frogman provide the basis of this episodic adventure based on the true story of naval commander Francis Douglas Fane. The exciting underwater sequences include actual footage of divers swimming with sharks and a 300-foot dive. +
Doug Fane was born in Aberdeen Scotland November 16th 1909. He immigrated to the United States in 1911 and worked himself up to a rating of Master in the US Merchant Marine from 1936 to 1940. He joined the Naval Reserves, served on various vessels and saw combat action in various hot spots during the Second World War.
After three years he volunteered for Extra Hazardous duty, this being the US NAVY Underwater Demolitions Teams. There was one problem the 33 yr old Fane had to overcome before he reported to duty: HE COULD NOT SWIM. (keep reading)
In this suspenseful WW II thriller, the hard-bitten commander of a British battleship stationed in Alexandria Harbor early in the war must force two captured Italian frogmen to tell him whether or not they planted time-bombs upon the ship’s hull.
The captives are uncooperative and the captain has them wait with the crew for the ship to explode. The minutes tick by and the increasingly nervous British sailors begin questioning their leader’s judgment. +
Voyage to the Edge of the World
Starring Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Philiipe Cousteau.
Directed by Philippe Cousteau (1975)
Cousteau’s pioneering exploration of the South Pole is captured in this documentary from his son, Philippe, who made the trip with his father. +
image rt: Polish movie poster
Aboard his ship Calypso, Jacques Cousteau and his crew sail from South America to Antarctica. They explore islands, reefs, icebergs, fossils, active volcanic craters, and creatures of the ocean never before seen. Captain Cousteau became one of the first explorers ever to dive beneath the waters of the frozen South Pole. +
La Calypso, vue d’ensemble – photo by Olivier Bernard 2007
â€Ž(2,896 Ã— 1,944 pixels)
RV Calypso is a former British Royal Navy a wooden-hulled minesweeper that was converted into a research vessel for the oceanographic researcher Jacques-Yves Cousteau, complete with a mobile laboratory for underwater field research. It was severely damaged in 1996, and underwent a complete refurbishment in 2009-2011.
Laid down on 12 August 1941 at Ballard Marine Railway Company of Seattle, Washington, USA; launched on 21 March 1942. Commissioned into the Royal Navy in February 1943 as HMS J-826 and assigned to active service in the Mediterranean Sea, reclassified as BYMS-2026 (British Yard Minesweeper) in 1944, eventually laid up at Malta and finally struck from the Naval Register in 1947. After World War II she became a ferry between Malta and the island of Gozo, and was renamed after the nymph Calypso.
The Irish millionaire and former MP, Thomas “Loel” Guinness bought Calypso in 1950 and leased her to Cousteau for a symbolic one franc a year. He had two conditions, that Cousteau never ask him for any money and that he never reveal his identity, which only came out after Cousteau’s passing.
Calypso carried advanced equipment, including one- and two-man mini submarines developed by Cousteau, a see-through “nose” and an observation chamber three meters below the waterline.
On 8 January 1996, a barge accidentally rammed the Calypso and she sank in the port of Singapore. A week later, she was brought up by a crane, patched, and pumped dry before being put on blocks in a shipyard. She was later towed to Marseille, France, where she sat neglected for two years.
In 1998, she was towed to the basin of the Maritime Museum of La Rochelle with the intention of converting her into a museum ship.
He invented the aqua-lung in 1943, and was the first to shoot a full-length movie in 1955 (with the help of the film director Louis Malle) under the ocean in colour. Their film, The Silent World, (Le monde du silence) was mostly shot in the Red Sea from the Calypso.
The Calypso has been at the centre of failed restoration projects and political and family squabbles since it sank in Singapore harbour in 1996. ‘The Calypso is, in its way, the Eiffel Tower of the oceans,'” said Francine Cousteau. “I feel a duty to restore its soul so it can be an ambassador of the environment in the years to come.”
Since Captain Cousteau’s death in 1997, his reputation has suffered a series of blows, including the revelation that he held anti-Semitic views and enjoyed friendly relations, during the 1939-45 war, with the Germans and the Vichy regime. It also emerged that he occasionally mistreated sea creatures in the course of his filming. +
Hijinks and spyjinks lighten this effective comedy by Richard Murphy, based — very loosely — on an actual incident in World War II. Somewhere in the Pacific aboard the not-so-good ship USS Echo, captained by the comic Lt. Rip Crandall (Jack Lemmon), has a very specific assignment.
The floating anachronism has to safely carry an Australian spy deep into enemy territory where he will be stationed to report on the Japanese fleet’s activities. The Echo should have been dismantled and sold for its parts long ago, so this assignment isn’t easy. + The only crew member who knows how to work a ship with sails is eager young Ensign Tommy Hanson, (Ricky Nelson) who’s mistake cost Crandall a yacht race trophy prior to the war. +
Filmed at Pearl Harbor and Kauai — The USS Echo was based on the real-life USS Echo, a 40-year-old twin-masted scow (flat-bottomed schooner) that was transferred from the New Zealand government to the US Navy in 1942, and returned in 1944. +
Pitcairn Island, near Tahiti.made his screen debut in this Australian feature which blends drama with documentary as it explores the infamous story of the HMS Bounty. Staged sequences re-enact the final voyage of the Bounty as angry sailors, led by Fletcher Christian ( ), rise up against brutal Captain Bligh ( ), expelling the captain from the ship and eventually settling on
In addition, documentary footage visits Pitcairn Island in 1933, offering a look at the place where Christian and his men took shelter and visiting with several islanders who are descendants of the Bounty‘s crew members. + Errol Flynn was a decendant of Fletcher Christian, the character he plays in this film. +
Based upon the 1946 novel with the same name by Garland Roark; John Wayne stars as a sea captain in the early 1860s East Indies out for revenge against a wealthy shipping magnate.
Wayne named his own production company, Batjac, after the shipping firm depicted in the picture. +
The adventure begins when the widowed ruler of a sub-oceanic kingdom (beneath the sea off the coast of Cornwall) spies a woman on the land who closely resembles his late wife. Believing that she is the reincarnation of his beloved spouse, the mer-king orders his gill-men to kidnap her. Fortunately two courageous divers and their pet rooster brave the mysterious depths and the deadly gill-men to rescue her. +
Originally released as City Under the Sea, the film attempted to capitalize on the series of Edgar Allan Poe films that had been made by Roger Corman, starring Vincent Price. To this extent the film took the title of a Poe poem, “The City in the Sea,” even though the only connection is a recitation of the poem at the end. +
Ok, it’s not about ships, but I couldn’t resist. Lighten up already.
Action film set in Scotland, based upon Scottish author Alistair MacLean‘s 1965 novel of the same name. Producers hoped to relase a string of realistic gritty espionage thrillers to rival the James Bond series, but the film’s poor box office receipts ended their plans.
British Treasury secret agent Phillip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins) is sent to investigate the hijacking of five cargo ships in the Irish Sea, tracking the latest hijacked ship—the Nantesville, carrying £8 million in gold bullion—to the Scottish Highlands and the sleepy port town of “Torbay” on the “Isle of Torbay” (patterned after Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull). Posing as marine biologists, Calvert and his partner Hunslett (Corin Redgrave) find the local inhabitants suspicious and hostile. (there’s a surprise)
watch: When Eight Bells Toll (1971) – YouTube (90 mins)
This classic British comedy is based on the true story of the wreck of the SS Politician on February 5, 1941.
Bound from Liverpool to Jamaica, the ship went down off the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, (off the west coast of Scotland) with over 250,000 bottles of whiskey on board.
The locals, blessing their good fortune, gathered as many bottles as they could before the arrival of the authorities. It’s said that bottles from the wreck still occasionally wash up on the beach.
The ship, called Politician only after a 1935 purchase by T & J Harrison from Furness, Withy and Co., was previously named London Merchant. Built in 1922-3; length 450 feet 6 inches (137.31 m) beam 58 feet (18 m), gross 8,000 long tons (8,100 t) and a top speed of 14 knots (16 mph; 26 km/h), and sailed the London-to-New York route.
Gale force winds slammed the Poly aground on Eriskay, she later broke in two near the islet of Calvay. The crew, unharmed, were rescued by locals. When the Samaritans learned from the crew what the ship had been carrying, a series of illegal and well-organised salvage operations took place before customs and excise officials arrived on the scene.
The island’s supplies of whiskey had dried up due to war-time rationing, so the islanders periodically helped themselves to some of the 28,000 cases (264,000 bottles) of Scotch malt before winter weather broke up the ship. As news of the flotsam spread across the Scottish Isles, boats came from miles around to help themselves. No islander regarded it as stealing; for them the rules of salvage meant that once the bounty was in the sea, it was theirs to rescue. more
In 2013, two of eight bottles salvaged in a 1987 wreck dive sold for £12,050 after an online auction. +
Bottle that inspired Whisky Galore! film auctioned for £2,200
on The Telegraph
Yet another telling of Jack London’s allegorical The Sea Wolf, this one released in 1958. Barry Sullivan stars as the brutal captain of a scavenger ship, who rides his men mercilessly and bristles at the slightest hint of weakness. Despite his cruelties, Sullivan fancies himself an intellectual, and welcomes the opportunity to spar both mentally and physically with bookish shipwreck victim Peter Graves.
Captain Wolf Hansen is the leader of an expedition to recover a fortune in jewels which was lost in a recent shipwreck. Mutinous seaman Snoden intends to claim the gems for himself and kill anyone who stands in his way. Hansen’s first mate thwarts his plan, winning the hand of heroine Nadine Miller (Jean Carmen) in the process.
Directed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau; his second film second to win an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
It chronicles Continental Shelf Station Two, or “Conshelf Two”, the first ambitious attempt to create an environment in which men could live and work on the sea floor. A half-dozen “oceanauts” lived for 30 days in a star-fish shaped house, 10 meters below the surface of the Red Sea, off Sudan. The undersea colony was supported with air, water, food, power, all essentials of life, from a large support team above.
Funded in part by the French petrochemical industry, the Conshelf Two experiment was originally intended to demonstrate the practicality of exploitation of the sea using underwater habitats as base stations. In the end Cousteau repudiated such an approach, turning his efforts instead toward conservation. +
Sea captain and seal poacher Gregory Peck meets and woos Russian countess Marina (fleeing an arranged marriage to the evil Prince Semyon) in 1850’s San Francisco. She books passage with “Portugee” (Anthony Quinn as Peck’s bitter rival) to Sitka, (then Russian,) Alaska where her uncle, the Governor, can protect her.
When financial and “labor problems” delay the journey, she books with Peck instead. As he shows her the sights of the city in one whirlwind night, they fall in love. When he proposes marriage, she gladly accepts.
Evil Prince dude finds out and Boy, is he pissed. He abducts Marina and spirits her off to Alaska. Peck and Portugee embark on a dangerous ocean race to see who can get there first. While both crews are brawling, a Russian gunboat appears and takes them all captive. +
You can safely assume, based on the wonderful poster art,
that a happy ending is in the stars.
watch or download: The World in His Arms (1952) 1:39:53
Rex Beach (1877 – 1949) was an American novelist and playwright famous for penning Klondike Gold Rush adventure stories; most famously, The Spoilers; which became one of the best selling novels of 1906. His books were immensely popular throughout the early 1900s, and Beach was lionized as the “Victor Hugo of the North.”
Critics described them as cut from the “he-man” school of literature: stories of “strong hairy men doing strong hairy deeds.” Alaska historian Stephen Haycox has said many of Beach’s works are “mercifully forgotten today.”
One such potboiler, The Silver Horde (1909), is set in Kalvik, a fictionalized community in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and tells the story of a down on his luck gold miner who discovers there is greater wealth to be found in Alaska’s salmon run (the silver horde) and decides to open a cannery. The entire operation is fraught with conflict when he is forced to overcome the relentless opposition of the “salmon trust,” a fictionalized Alaska Packers’ Association, which undercuts his financing, sabotages his equipment, incites a longshoremen’s riot and bribes his fishermen into quitting.
Many of his works were adapted into successful films. The Spoilers became a stage play, then was remade into movies five times from 1914 to 1955, with Gary Cooper and John Wayne each playing the lead in 1930 and 1942, respectively. The Silver Horde was twice made into a movie; first as a silent film in 1920, and again a talkie in 1930.
Two years after the death of his wife Edith in 1947, Beach committed suicide in Sebring, Florida at the age of 71.
A sea captain is accused of negligence when his ship sinks and 162 passengers drown. A zealous defense attorney, proud of his perfect track record, is assigned to defend the sailor. Though the captain is clearly guilty, the DA gets him acquitted. Afterward, the lawyer’s wife and friends are utterly disgusted and end up leaving him. In the end, the lawyer vindicates himself by proving that the captain is indeed innocent. He then brings the guilty ship’s mate to justice. +
British-American thriller starring Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston, and Michael Redgrave; based upon the novel by Hammond Innes. Talented special effects and adventure flick director Michael Anderson (Around the World in 80 Days, 1956) keeps the suspense going in this drama.
John Sands (Charleton Heston) is the captain of a salvage ship that is almost rammed by the apparently abandoned Mary Deare. Sands boards the ship in search of plunder but soon discovers the half-crazed captain (Gary Cooper) is still aboard. + Then things start to get weird.
The novel was optioned by MGM with the intention of having Alfred Hitchcock direct and Cooper star. Hitchcock had long wanted to work with Cooper, but concluded that it couldn’t be done without turning the movie into “a boring courtroom drama.”
Critics generally agree that the finished film matches Hitchcock prediction. +
The Wreck of the Mary Deare
by Hammond Innes, 1954 – book review
Originally titled USS Teakettle; comedy starring Gary Cooper as Lieutenant John Harkness, a wet-behind-the ears naval lieutenant who, in the initial months of World War II, is given command of his first ship. Unfortunately, the crew and his subordinate officers are also new at their jobs. While Harkness bumbles around naval protocol, he has to deal with the mysterious contraption below decks, an elaborate experimental steam engine.
Screenwriter Richard Murphy was nominated by the Writers Guild of America for “Best Written American Comedy”, basing his script on an article written by John W. Hazard in The New Yorker magazine. Hazard, a professional journalist and naval reservist, had served during World War II as executive officer of the PC-452, a similar craft that served in 1943-44 as a test platform for steam turbine propulsion.
Filmed in black-and-white aboard PC-1168, (USS Castine) an active Navy patrol craft, You’re in the Navy Now featured the film debuts of Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, and Lee Marvin in minor roles as crewmen. +
USS Castine (IX 211) ex-PC-452 Class Submarine Chaser
photos and info on NavSource
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