21 April 2010 | rmax304823
Robert Taylor: Master of His Fate.
Taylor is captain of a whaling ship in the south Pacific. His wife, Anne Blythe, is also aboard to keep Taylor from getting too nervous. The crew are a mixed lot. Somewhere along the way Taylor's ship picks up Taylor's brother, Stewart Granger, who left home long ago to pursue various unsavory adventures, leaving behind a history of family friction.
Granger relates a tale of falling in with a couple of douche bags, Kurt Kaszner and James Whitmore, who show him a stash of pearls in the lagoon of an island inhabited by hostile natives. Before they can make off with the millions of dollars of rare pearls, the two miscreants are killed and Granger barely escapes alive.
Back aboard Taylor's ship, Granger invites him to forget about any past frictions and join him in getting the pearls. Forget the whaling business. It sounds pretty good to Anne Blythe, who has always had a bit of a crush on the roguish Granger, but Taylor's face is grim as he declares that he, the captain, will carry out the ship's mission, which is to kill whales.
Stewart seduces Blythe and incites a mutiny. That's the kind of guy he is. There is a knockabout fist fight, and Granger changes sides to fight side by side with his brother and -- well, medical discretion forbids the revelation of additional plot details, but, this being a 1950s movie, you can guess the ending.
Interesting to see Stewart Granger in the role of irresponsible and light-hearted adventurer, kind of an Errol Flynn role. Robert Taylor's acting makes a quantum leap in this film -- he manages to suggest two emotions at the same time. As an actress, Anne Blythe had a pretty voice.
The score is by Miklos Rozsa. You can tell from the moment that first signature six-note phrase appears. We're told Rozsa was a musical prodigy. There's no reason to doubt it, but he recycled the same tone and even the same melodies from one movie to the next. Dmitri Tiomkin was also distinctive, but you can tell one score from another. "The Guns of Navarron" doesn't sound like "Red River." But here, if you close your eyelids, you find you're watching "Ben Hur" unroll on their interiors.
I hate to sound too sarcastic about this but it really is a dated by-product of the old Hollywood. It seems to have been ground out like a Sonic Burger. Everyone wears clean clothes. The men are closely shaved except those who look like supporting players and extras who have been instructed to grow beards so they look villainous. The tans are not from the weather but from Max Factor. After a monstrous gut-busting fist fight, nobody has a mark on him -- and this was after "Shane". The scenes aboard ship are studio bound. There's not a puff of wind.