Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Isle of Lost Ships

I recently mentioned the Isle of Lost Ships in a recent post on Malc's fascination with the ship wrecks of Sable Island. Malc thought that Sable Island may have been original island of the story. There have been many tales of such islands but Crittenden Marriott's novel The Isle of Dead Ships written in 1909 and the subsequent films are probably the source for the story in the 20th Century consciousness.

Here are details of the 2 films of the book:

The Isle of Lost Ships 1923

A silent film adventure/melodrama directed and produced by Maurice Tourneur and distributed by Associated First National Pictures. The film is based on Crittenden Marriott's novel The Isle of Dead Ships c.1909.

The Isle of Lost Ships 1929

The story was re-filmed in 1929 by director Irvin Willat. Tourneur himself made a different story with similar theme called The Ship of Lost Men(1929) which had a young German actress, Marlene Dietrich in the cast.

Released in both silent and sound versions, Isle of Lost Ships 1929 stars Jason Robards Sr. as Frank Howard, an accused criminal being transported to prison by no-nonsense cop Jackson (Robert Emmet O'Connor). While sailing towards their destination, prisoner and policeman are swept up in a storm at sea and deposited on an island "decorated" with derelict ships. Having already performed heroically during the storm, Howard further proves his mettle by saving heroine Dorothy Renwick (Virginia Valli) from lecherous privateer Captain Forbes (Noah Beery Sr), killing a marauding shark, and braving the depths of the Sargasso Sea to repair a submarine. Understandably impressed by all this, Jackson changes his mind about following the letter of the law and sets about to prove Howard's innocence. Isle of Lost Ships was later reissued in excerpt form as the Robert Youngson one-reeler An Adventure to Remember. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Information on is scarce on the Net - there is an entry with biographical details in Science-fiction, the early years: by Everett Franklin Bleiler which I have been unable to access.

However, I did come across this interesting snippet:

"Tourneur soon afterwards made The Isle of Lost Ships (1923), a work which Hitchcock once included in his list of favourite films. Unfortunately Tourneur's film has been lost. But one can read a description of it: 'Crittenden Marriott's vivid story formed a wonderful basis for the atmospheric filmmaking talents of Tourneur. The "isle of lost ships," at least in Tourneur's interpretation, isn't an island at all, but a cluster of derelict ships, from ancient to modern times, floating together on a bed of seaweed in the Sargasso Sea.' Against this melancholy background a love story takes place involving an escaped convict - wrongfully convicted, it turns out - and a millionaire's daughter. The couple end up getting married and returning to civilisation". The McGuffin's Web Page

Maurice Tourneur also directed a film based on Conrad's Victory.

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