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  • Midshipman Easy is directed by Carol Reed and adapted to screenplay by Anthony Kimmins from Frederick Marryat's novel Mr Midshipman Easy. It stars Hughie Green, Margaret Lockwood, Harry Tate and Robert Adams. Produced by Thorold Dickinson with music by Frederick Austin and cinematography by John W. Boyle.

    Young and precocious Master Easy (Green) joins the Royal Navy as a midshipman aboard HMS Harpy. He finds it difficult to adjust to the Navy life and quickly finds himself in trouble. However, when smugglers, pirates and a storm come into the ship's midst, Master Easy and his pals prove adept at seamanship and bravado.

    With a minuscule budget and filmed primarily at Ealing Studios, Midshipman Easy is indicative of the quota quickie formula back in the day. Clocking in at just 74 minutes, film is brisk, loud and fervent to the popular source material. It plays out as a series of boys own escapades, with that comes a negation of the toughness of nautical life during the Napoleonic Wars. So forget any hope of depth and prepare for boyish derring-do that's cloaked by the arrogance of youth.

    Charming if not now managing to stir the blood, it's a good enough time filler, but ultimately it's only one to tick off for Reed and Lockwood completists. 6/10
  • This film was shown as part of the Carol Reed centenary season at the NFT.Hughie Green plays the eponymous hero.Well overplays actually.He doesn't so much chew as devour the scenery.Roger Livesey is very acceptable as the Captain.The well known music hall star Harry Tate also has a penchant at overplaying but maybe more understandable when you have to play to a noisy theatre most of your life.Intersetingly enough the hero's best friend on board ship is portrayed by black actor Robert Adam.He in my view is the standout performer.It is interesting to contrast the way black actors were used in the British and American cinemas at this time.If you think of Paul Robeson and Nina Mae McKenny and Adelaide Hall and you compare their roles with the depressing and distressing stereotypes in American films of the same period.There is a small role for a young Margaret Lockwood.
  • 1935 and Margaret was still trying to establish her film credentials.This film was made four full years before she shot to international fame playing Iris Matilda Henderson in Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes".As such it was probably one of the "quota quickies" she made during this period.

    In "Midshipman Easy" she plays a beautiful Spanish Grandee's daughter set in the early part of the 19th century at a time when England was at war with Napoleon Bonaparte and his Spanish allies.As such she is only on the screen a miniscule part of the film but enough to have a fledgling romance with the adolescent Hughie Green.Hughie's character takes the right to speak to ridiculous extremes especially by entering as a midshipman in the king's navy, with its stern discipline, under Captain Wilson (Roger Livesey).However Hughie creatively re-interprets his naval orders and apparently disobeys them but he always seems to land on his feet and come up smelling of roses.The acting is melodramatic with cardboard like figures but this is supposed to be a rather childish comedy.It was nice to see Frederick Burtwell playing "Mr Easthupp"; he figures in another Margaret Lockwood film from 1945 playing a religious music publisher, Mr Pacey, in "I'll Be Your Sweetheart".I rated "Midshipman Easy" as average at 5/10.
  • drednm19 November 2014
    This is a rather remarkable little British film, a sort of boy's view of going to sea, that boasts several excellent performances and one that is downright astonishing. Master Easy goes to sea in the 1850s under the watchful eye of the ship's captain (Roger Livesey) who is a family friend. Easy has grown up thinking life's virtues are built around zeal, fairness, and cooperation. On board, his views are tested by sea sickness, a mean first mate, and other midshipmen (all in their teens) jockeying for position. But by ignoring all orders and common sense, Easy comes to the fore in a series a Napoleonic war-time adventures involving a Spanish family from Sicily and an Italian desperado.

    Hughie Green at age 15 is perfect as the midshipman hero of the story and throws himself into the role. After boyhood, Green was apparently a British TV "personality" involved in all kinds of game shows and such. But here as a young actor he just about perfect for his role. Roger Livesey has fun as the indulgent captain, and Margaret Lockwood has an early role Donna Agnes. Also notable is Harry Tate as Mr. Biggs. But among all the fun there is a remarkable performance by Robert Adams, a black actor, who plays Mesty. Mesty's job onboard the ship is rather vague, but he becomes Early's protector and right-hand man. He's promoted to the rank of corporal and later saves Early's life by fighting the Italian desperado and throwing him over a cliff. The class and bravery of this black character in a 1935 British film outpaces anything I can think of in an American film of the era.

    This hugely enjoyable film is part of the ongoing Ealing Rarities DVD series from UK and was directed by Carol Reed.