Saturday 8 July 2023

Movie Review: The Wreck Of The Mary Deare (1959)

Genre: Marine Mystery Drama
Director: Michael Anderson
Running Time: 104 minutes

Synopsis: During a storm in the English Channel, salvage boat Captain John Sands (Charlton Heston) stumbles upon the drifting and seemingly abandoned cargo ship Mary Deare. He clambers onboard and is surprised to find Captain Gideon Patch (Gary Cooper) alone and still trying to maneuver the vessel. Patch refuses to share his agenda with Sands, but an inquiry involving the ship's owners and Second Officer Higgins (Richard Harris) awaits once the two men make it back to shore.

What Works Well: Gary Cooper (despite his ailing health and in his penultimate role) and Charlton Heston demonstrate commendable agility and forge a robust partnership at the adventure's heart. Joseph Ruttenberg's cinematography in stormy and underwater conditions is stellar, particularly the opening encounter between the Mary Deare and Sands' salvage boat, and the closing scuba diving sequence.

What Does Not Work As Well: The plot is constipated by Patch's refusal to reveal his motivations. By the time the drama moves to dry land, it's too late to float the tell-but-don't-show insurance fraud conspiracy. The Higgins character is a stock henchman; the real villains remain shadowy and barely defined, robbing the movie of tension. The logic holes are plentiful, including why the bad guys never ditched Patch overboard, or why they conveniently left one lifeboat behind.

Conclusion: Quite wet, but just about salvaged by star power.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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