Released 1/15/23 by Metro Pictures; Director: Irvin V. Willat; Screenplay: Julien Josephson, from the novel by Ben Ames Williams; Cinematography: Robert Kurrle; 7 reels (6265'); Print SOurce: Netherlands EYE Institute (fragment)
CAST: Malcolm McGregor (Joel Shore), Billie Dove (Priscilla Holt), Lon Chaney (Mark Shore), William H. Orlamond (Aaron Burnham), Robert McKim (Finch), Robert Kortman (Varde), Otto Brower (Morrell), Curt Rehfeld (Hooper), William V. Mong (Cook), Leo Willis (Tom), Shannon Day (The Brown Girl)
SYNOPSIS: Joel Shore is the last of a long line of seafaring men, his brother Mark having disappeared from the "Nathan Ross" when it was anchored off the Gilbert Islands. Joel is hired as captain of the boat for a three-year run on a whaling vessel, and before sailing he marries his sweetheart, Priscilla Holt. The newly married couple sail off, but the young wife soon becomes bored with life on the boat, and when they catch their first whale, the smell of the boiling blubber makes her sick. While sailing around Cape Horn, Mark Shore amazingly swings over the rail of the boat. He tells a thrilling tale of how he drank too much gin while the "Nathan Ross" was docked, and awoke to find the boat gone. He had taken a native girl as his sweetheart, and when some pearl hunters captured her, he climbed aboard their boat and killed one of the men. They set sail on a pearling expedition, and found a huge oyster bed that made them all rich. Mark killed the other two pearl hunters and hid the pearls on a remote island. His native girl was killed by savages on the island, and Mark was forced to flee. Learning that the "Nathan Ross" was in port, he came aboard so that he could go back for the pearls. Joel refuses to help him, keeping his promise not to risk the ship. Soon, the news of the pearls spread, and the crew begins to talk of mutiny. Mark openly makes advances towards Priscilla, and she is shocked that Joel does nothing about it. Eventually, Mark and several of the men take over the ship and plan to go after the pearls. Joel is tied up, but Aaron Burnham, the ship's carpenter, remains loyal and helps him escape. Joel demands that the ship be returned to him, and he knocks Mark down with a hard right to the jaw. A terrible fight follows between the mutineers and the loyal crewmen. Mark sides with Joel in the fight and is knocked overboard. Joel dives in trying to save him, but Mark is lost at sea. Order is restored to the ship and Priscilla underlines the first words of Joel's report in the logbook, "All the Brothers Were Valiant."
"Metro has converted Ben Ames Williams' story into a splendid sea picture...It is an attraction that will be enthusiastically received by men, and because of its romantic interest will appeal to many women...Lon Chaney gives the most striking performance of the production. As the bragging husky of the seas he is most convincing and gets a slightly humorous meaning out of his role. The character is a particularly human one."---Moving Picture World
NOTES: MGM remade the film in 1928 as ACROSS TO SINGAPORE with Ernest Torrence playing Chaney's role. It's interesting that MGM Chaney under contract and gave that role to another actor, but by that point in his career, MGM may have considered Chaney too big a star to waste in a secondary role.
A small fragment of the film (~200' = ~2 min) turned up at the Netherlands EYE Institute in 2014. It's preservation status is unknown, but you can read about it here.
© 1997,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
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