The Wreck of the Mary Deare (6-Nov-1959)
Director: Michael Anderson
Writer: Eric Ambler
From novel: The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes
Review by Mark Lundie (posted on 25-Jul-2007)
Although this film will never make it to the pantheon of great action thrillers, it has a fine cast, including Gary Cooper, Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Sir Michael Redgrave, and a fine supporting cast of British actors, including the lovely Virginia McKenna of "Born Free" fame.
A salvage operator, John Sands (played in an understated way by Heston) and his crew are cruising through the English Channel on the eve of an approaching storm when they nearly collide with a seemingly abandoned old freighter, the "Mary Deare."
Sands climbs aboard to see if there is anything worth salvaging, and thinking the ship deserted, descends to the hold, only to find the engine switched off, and the ship seemingly empty and drifting. Suddenly he is encountered by acting captain Gideon Patch (Cooper) who, despite his tough and seemingly hostile manner, helps Sands back on board when the rising gale prevents Sands from returning to his boat.
Together, they steer the ship, damaged and mysteriously abandoned, to the notorious reef called The Minkies, in the Channel Island, where Patch's seamanship enables them to strand it on a reef. From that point on, the mystery of why Patch was alone on the ship, and why he wants a full criminal investigation into the cargo of the "Mary Deare" slowly become apparent.
A feeling of mystery pervades the film, and although most of it was filmed in the MGM studio, some of the special effects, particularly of the storm in the first third of the film, are worth mention.
Although John Sands at times has a hard time trusting Patch's motives for demanding the inquest, he remains loyal to him, and we find out the dark mystery behind the shipwreck, by means of the subsequent courtroom drama, and the final climactic scene back on board the stranded freighter.
Although not a true classic, this is great film for anyone with a taste for maritime adventure and mystery, and deserves more profile than it has got since released in 1959. Writer Eric Ambler has done a good job making a screenplay out of the original novel by Hammond Innes.
So, if you like stormy seas, mystery and adventure, all interpreted by a fine cast, this is definitely a film for you.
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