Saturday, October 17, 2009

It coulda been a Hitchcock....

TCM is airing the interesting, if flawed, movie The Wreck of the Mary Deare, tonight at 10:30 PM ET.

Charlton Heston stars as the skipper of a salvage vessel somewhere in the foggy English Channel. The ship collides wiht another one, and Heston goes aboard the other ship to investigate. Thing is, he finds that the ship is on fire and has been scuttled, with nobody aboard. Well, almost nobody. One rough-looking old man, played by Gary Cooper, is still aboard. He's claiming that the captain deliberately set the ship on fire and scuttled it, because the captain (and rest of the crew) was involved in some sort of dark, nefarious business. He (Cooper) knew that there was something fishy going on, and the captain had him locked up for that.

Heston isn't so certain whether to believe the guy, but he keeps his mouth shut at the court of naval inquiry that follows, but Cooper wants the exact location of the wreck kept a secret, because otherwise, his former bosses will find the wreck and do away with the incriminating evidence. Indeed, there's already a race on to find the Mary Deare, and Heston, with his salvage boat, is the only one who can help Cooper....

The Wreck of the Mary Deare isn't a bad movie, although it comes across as being a bit by-the-numbers. Most of the story is about the Heston and Cooper characters, so nobody else in the cast really gets their characters developed. Watch, though, for some very good actors, such as Alexander Knox as an investigator working on behalf of the owners, and a young Richard Harris as the second officer of the Mary Deare, and the villain of the movie.

The more interesting thing about it is the fact that Alfred Hitchcock was originally supposed to be involved as director. However, he and his preferred screenwriter didn't particularly like the idea behind the movie, and wanted to come up with something else. They didn't tell the studio bosses at MGM until they did come up with that "something else" -- which just happened to be North by Northwest.

No comments: