The Mutiny (1952)
Director: Edward Dmytryk.
Starring: Mark Stevens (Capt. James Marshall), Angela Lansbury (Leslie), Patric Knowles (Capt. Ben Waldridge), Gene Evans (Hook), Rhys Williams (Redlegs), Robert Osterloh (Feversham, gunner), Peter Brocco (Sykes, gunner), Emerson Treacy (Council Speaker), Morris Ankrum (Capt. Radford), Todd Karns (Andrews).
a mutiny on a ship is motivated by greed to get the gold France has given the USA to help their fight against the British in the War of 1812
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
A British war ship has taken over an American ship. The British captain starts the impressments of American crewmen to serve in the British navy on the pretext that the sailors are Englishmen. There is nothing the American captain can do but verbally protest against this outrage.
At a political meeting in Salem a spokesman gets up to denounce the British practice of impressments. He says that often the impressed seamen never get to see their families again. While the speech goes on, a messenger gives a note to one of the men running the meeting, shipbuilder Kaleb Parsons. The man gets up and tells everyone that the Congress has declared war on Great Britain as of June 18, 1812. There is a big applause in the room and everyone starts excitedly talking to each other.
Captain James Marshall is at the meeting and Col. Rogers from New York and Kaleb talk with him in private. Kaleb wants to know how long it would take for Jim to get his ship the Concord ready to sail. Jim says 24 hours. Kaleb tells him a group of private Frenchmen have arranged to lend the USA $10 million dollars in gold to build an American fleet to fight the British. Since France is not at war with Britain, this is a secret mission. Jim agrees to take the mission.
Jim goes to a bar to see his old teacher, Capt. Ben Waldridge. Ben is with three bar maids in his room. The women leave as Jim needs to speak in private with Ben. Jim tells Ben he cannot complete his mission without his help. Ben was cashiered from the British navy. He is in a bad way because his love Leslie left him. Jim tells Ben that he will not be captain, but rather first officer. Ben says no at first, but Jim convinces him to play second fiddle. One reason why Ben agreed to be first officer, is that he is hoping he can see Leslie again, who now lives in France.
Ben soon picks his own gun crew from among the many sailors he knows. Hook (with a hook for his missing right hand) and Redlegs are among the first to be chosen. Hook is a rough character who really likes to drink heavily. Soon Ben has his gun crew for the Concord. Onboard the ship Hook and Redlegs look over the submergible (an early, primitive type of submarine). Two men get inside and take turns peddling in order to work the propellers at the back of the vessel.
The Concord sets sail. British warships are around Salem harbor. Luckily for Jim, fog has set in, making it difficult for the British warships to spot them. Redlegs volunteers to take some explosives and swim over to the nearest warship and set the explosives on the side of the vessel. Redlegs asks the captain to wait for his return and the captain says he will. So off goes Redlegs. He sets the explosive and lights it. It soon explodes with a terrific bang. Ben tells Jim that they must get going because there are three other enemy warships close by. But Jim said he would wait for Redlegs and that's what he's going to do. Ben says Jim is jeopardizing the entire mission for one man. Jim waits. Redlegs comes aboard and now the ship can go.
Hook and Redlegs talk about the unknown mission of the ship and Redlegs wants to know what is so important about the ship's mission that it has to be a secret. So he lowers Hook over the side on a rope so Hook can listen into a conversation between the captain and the first officer. It's not long before Hook hears the men talking about $10 million dollars in gold to be gotten in France. Hook and Redlegs now start plotting about how they can get their hands on that gold. They plan to tell Ben about it and include him in on the plot to steal the gold. The guys let Ben know that they know about the $10 million dollars. Ben tells the men that they had better not mention this to anyone else and the two men agree. But soon Redlegs is with the gun crew plotting out how much money each of the eight men will make, if they divide the gold up equally.
The ship arrives in Le Havre, France. Jim and Ben go by themselves to arrange for the pickup of the gold. If they don't get back at night, the ship is to send out some sailors with weapons to look for them. Jim and Ben are delayed, so the man in charge starts looking for looking for the gun crew. The gun crew is busy playing poker, using their prospective shares of the gold to wager. The men discover the presence of Mr. Andrews who has been listening to their conversation. Hook promises to cut Andrews in on the plot, if he keeps his mouth shut. He tells Andrews to take a sip of the grog from the barrel to celebrate the occasion. When Andrews bends over, Hook and another sailor force him into the barrel of grog. He then covers the barrel with its lid. Mr. Andrews now will certainly never tells anyone else about the planned scheme.
Ben and Jim row quickly to get back to the boat. They are being chased by the British in another row boat. The gun crew soon hits the the enemy row boat with a cannon shot, removing that danger. Ben gets out of the boat with his Leslie. Hook and Redlegs figure that the gold must be in the two chests accompanying Leslie. In their cabin Ben and Leslie hug and kiss each other. She promises Ben never to leave him again. Leslie thinks that Ben is the captain. Soon enough, she finds out and she doesn't like it one bit. She rips into "Captain" Waldridge for misleading her. She says she is getting off the boat. A disgusted Jim leaves.
Hook and Redlegs bring Leslie's two chests to her cabin. She tells them to take them back up on deck. They refuse. They then open up the two chests looking for the gold. Lesliessays they are both insane. They ask her where is the $10 million dollars in gold? Now she completely changes her attitude. Now all three wonder where the gold really is. Leslie thinks the new anchor brought in is made of gold. The three of them go and scratch the surface of the new anchor. Sure enough, under the paint, it's solid gold.
On deck Jim and Ben realize that a British squadron is bearing down on them. The ship has got to make a run for it.
Leslie goes to speak with Ben to apologize for hurting him and to ask him to forgive her. She tells him that when "he's" the captain of the ship, things will be different. Now Leslie goes out to talk to the captain to tell him that she doesn't want him to force her to go back to France. Jim, however, won't cooperate, which makes Leslie furious at him.
A British ship, the Aurora, approaches the Concord and starts firing at it. The only hope for the Americans is that they will can pass through an area of shoals, being a much smaller ship, while the British ship hopefully will get snacked on them. They slow up the British ship with a direct hit on one of its masts. The Concord barely gets over the shoals by getting rid of one of their cannon. The rope around the cannon gets caught around Ben's leg and Ben goes overboard with the cannon. Jim jumps into the water and cuts Ben free. He gets Ben up on deck again. The Aurora starts firing again at the Concord, but then the Aurora hits one of those shoals and gets stuck. The American crew give a great hurrah at their escape.
Leslie tells Ben that she found out about the anchor. Ben says he is not going through with the mutiny plan, especially since Jim saved his life. But Leslie says he will never get her, if he doesn't go through with the plot. So Ben tells her he will speak to Hook. He proposes his plan of attack and Redlegs and Hook go along with it.
There are now only five days out from Salem harbor. Jim says he wants Ben to have joint command with him.
Ben tells the mutineers that at eight bells he will take the watch. That will be the signal for the start of the mutiny.
The men break into the armory after knocking out the guard. A crewmen sees this and reports it to Captain Marshall. Ben shoots one of Jim's men. Jim asks: "Ben, what have you done?" Jim is put in the brig. The mutineers now start taking things belonging to the captain. Leslie tells Ben to get them out of their room. Hook makes the men leave and then he goes. Leslie now wants Ben to kill Jim, because Jim will follow Ben forever if he is allowed to live. Ben takes two pistols and goes down to see Jim. Ben tells Jim to go. Jim throws a door into the sea along with a piece of lumber to use as a paddle and then jumps into the sea from the port. In the water he straddles the door and paddles with the piece of lumber. Once Jim is gone, Ben shoots off his pistol to make Hook, Redlegs and Leslie think that he killed the captain.
The next day Jim sees land ahead of him. He is relieved that he is going to make it. Three boys playing on the shore find Jim and pull him all the way up onto the beach. He finds out that he is in Beaufort, Georgia. They have already notified the navy. The naval officers come to talk with Jim and bring him back to testify about what happened. Jim talks to the naval commander. The men believe Jim's story and go after the Concord.
Jim says that Ben will stop at an island to melt the gold down into ingots. Their plan is to determine which island it is. They find out that the ship is heading to Havana. There is a big enemy warship there and Waldridge will never be able to get past it. They stop a fishing vessel and find out that the Concord is not far from away. The fisherman tried to sell the sailors some of his fish, but all they wanted was grog. The Americans send the fisherman out to the Concord again. The fisherman has grog (from the naval ship) to sell to the sailors. The navy's plan is to get all the sailors drunk and then board the ship.
The mutineers buy the fisherman's grog with a small gold ingot. Then the men have a big party and get smashed. Jim Marshall comes aboard the ship followed by members of the American navy. Ben checks on the men and throws the rest of their grog away. When Ben and the mutineers come up on deck, a big fight ensues. Redlegs gets a knife in his back. Jim fights Hook and is able to stab him in the side with a knife. The navy men subdue the mutineers. Ben has gone below deck. He tells Leslie that they still have a chance to escape. Jim comes down and Ben threatens to set fire to what may be pitch tar. Jim says if Ben will surrender, he will make sure no charges are brought against Leslie. Leslie now begs Ben to let her live. She keeps pestering him until he throws the torch onto the deck in disgust.
The American ships now come under fire from a British warship. Jim says the British will never take his ship or its cargo. He starts to leave. Leslie grabs one of Ben's pistols and is going to shoot Jim in the back when Ben shoots Leslie. Jim prepares to blow up his ship with gunpowder. Ben, however, tells Jim that there is a way where it won't be necessary to destroy the Concord, but destroy the Britannica instead. They can use the submersible vessel to sink the British warship. Jim takes the deal.
The guys get into the submersible. Ben does the churning to keep the propellers going. They are going to try to ram their torpedo into the side of the British ship after the fuse has been lit and then get out of there as fast as they can. Just before they reach the Britannica they go completely under water. They indeed push the torpedo up to the wooden hull of the Britannica. Jim lights the fuse and rams the torpedo into the hull. Ben starts cranking away backwards to get as far away from the torpedo as they can.
The torpedo explodes, sinking he British ship. The shock waves make it impossible for Jim and Ben to open the the hatch. They have to force it open and this sinks the submersible farther and farther below the surface of the water. Jim makes it out of the vessel, but Ben does not. Ben goes to his death. Jim tells the other officers that he has written in the log that Capt. Waldridge died in the course of his duties. They all agree to honor the report.
This is an okay movie. You don't learn much about the War of 1812, except the the USA was fighting the British and one reason for this was the British impressment of American naval personnel. The tale is fictional and involves part of the crew trying to steal the $10 million dollars worth of gold on load from wealthy Frenchmen meant to help the American cause against the British. The men mutiny, but Captain Jim Marshall is bound and determined to get his ship back. The best known actor in the movie is Angela Lansbury and she is good as the ruthless gold-digging woman who cares more about money that her relationship with ex-Captain Ben Waldridge. The well-known character actors Gene Evans as Hook and Rhys Williams as Redlegs both performed well in the film. It's a very short movie, which may make the story easier to take. There is quite a bit of action, including the use of a primitive type of submarine.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)