Destination Unknown (1933)

67 mins | Drama | 16 March 1933

Full page view
HISTORY

Some reviews note the similarity of this film to the play The Passing of the Third Floor Back by Jerome K. Jerome (London, 1 Sep 1908), in which a Christ-like stranger changes the lives of people in a London boardinghouse. Var commented, "Idea was to produce a strong moral lesson, but it made this evening's audience ... More Less

Some reviews note the similarity of this film to the play The Passing of the Third Floor Back by Jerome K. Jerome (London, 1 Sep 1908), in which a Christ-like stranger changes the lives of people in a London boardinghouse. Var commented, "Idea was to produce a strong moral lesson, but it made this evening's audience laugh." More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
8 Apr 33
p. 7.
Harrison's Reports
8 Apr 33
p. 54.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 32
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 32
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 33
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
28 Jan 33
p. 25.
New York Times
8 Apr 33
p. 16.
Variety
11 Apr 33
p. 17.
DETAILS
Release Date:
16 March 1933
Production Date:
7 November--mid December 1932
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 March 1933
Copyright Number:
LP3729
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
67
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Following a violent storm in which the captain and first mate of the Prince Rupert are killed, the ship, broken and disabled, drifts helplessly through seemingly endless days of no wind. The ship's crew, led by the Swedish bosun Lundstrom, are held in check by Matt Brennan, a rumrunner, who, by virtue of a gun he brandishes, controls the dwindling water supply. Although the ship has 5,000 cases of liquor onboard, there is only one barrel of water left. Brennan refuses water to the sailors until a wind will come. When Johnny, the mess boy who is sick, convinces Brennan to let him have some water, a near-crazed sailor tries to jump Brennan, who shoots and wounds Johnny. Meanwhile, in the dead captain's quarters, Ruby Smith, Brennan's ex-mistress, sleeps. Previously, while the ship was in Tahiti, a man named Maxie brought her aboard for the captain, in exchange for a ride. Ruby, who wanted to get away from Brennan, boarded the ship not knowing that Brennan was going to ride with the rum. She is now afraid that Brennan, who doesn't know she is onboard, will kill her when he finds out. When Joe Shane, a sailor, sees a steamer light, Lundstrom tells him not to send up a rocket and hits him because he is afraid that the steamer would take the rum, which Lundstrom plans to steal. Johnny tells Ring, the cook, that he has a letter with money in it, which he received when his father died, and in exchange for water, Johnny tells Ring where the letter is. As Ring reveals a hidden stash of twelve gallons of ... +


Following a violent storm in which the captain and first mate of the Prince Rupert are killed, the ship, broken and disabled, drifts helplessly through seemingly endless days of no wind. The ship's crew, led by the Swedish bosun Lundstrom, are held in check by Matt Brennan, a rumrunner, who, by virtue of a gun he brandishes, controls the dwindling water supply. Although the ship has 5,000 cases of liquor onboard, there is only one barrel of water left. Brennan refuses water to the sailors until a wind will come. When Johnny, the mess boy who is sick, convinces Brennan to let him have some water, a near-crazed sailor tries to jump Brennan, who shoots and wounds Johnny. Meanwhile, in the dead captain's quarters, Ruby Smith, Brennan's ex-mistress, sleeps. Previously, while the ship was in Tahiti, a man named Maxie brought her aboard for the captain, in exchange for a ride. Ruby, who wanted to get away from Brennan, boarded the ship not knowing that Brennan was going to ride with the rum. She is now afraid that Brennan, who doesn't know she is onboard, will kill her when he finds out. When Joe Shane, a sailor, sees a steamer light, Lundstrom tells him not to send up a rocket and hits him because he is afraid that the steamer would take the rum, which Lundstrom plans to steal. Johnny tells Ring, the cook, that he has a letter with money in it, which he received when his father died, and in exchange for water, Johnny tells Ring where the letter is. As Ring reveals a hidden stash of twelve gallons of water in the boiler, Lundstrom sees them. He then pours water into empty bottles and surreptitiously gives some to Shane, fooling Brennan, who thinks he is drinking rum. Meanwhile, Johnny faints at the boiler and accidentally lets the water pour out. After Lundstrom finds Johnny at the spilled water, he describes to Brennan's henchman, Gattallo, the horrible experience he will have if he dies from thirst and convinces him to get him Brennan's gun in exchange for water. With the gun, Lundstrom now refuses to give his sailors water and forces them work the pump because the ship has sprung a leak. The pump soon breaks, and realizing that the ship will sink in eight hours, the men get drunk on the rum. As the twelve men replicate the "Last Supper" tableau, Johnny sees a light in the form of a cross, and a stowaway, who does not identify himself by name, appears carrying a lantern. The men complain that now, with the unlucky number of thirteen men onboard, the ship cannot survive, but the stowaway, who is carrying Johnny, shows that he has died. He then reveals that there is plenty of water onboard in the barrels that were supposed to be filled with wine. Although the men are saved by this revelation, Brennan is angry that he has been swindled. As the sailors carry the barrels to the deck, one of them discovers Ruby, and she locks her door. Lundstrom breaks it in, and he is about to attack her, when Brennan comes in and pulls a gun on Lundstrom. The stowaway enters and calms the situation by revealing that the ship has stopped sinking. He guesses from his experience as a carpenter that the seams may have swollen shut. Ruby thinks she recognizes him from somewhere. The stowaway then offers to navigate by the stars. After Brennan gets the gun back from Lundstrom, the crew decide to kill the stowaway, whom they think is bad luck. However, as one sailor starts to choke the stowaway, he suddenly stops, and the two men exchange greetings as friends. Ruby and Brennan reconcile, and when the seas turn rough, the ship's doctor, who had lost the use of his hands, is able to steer again. As dawn breaks, the stowaway steers, and the ship hits a rock. The men abandon ship and swim to the beach, where they see the ship sink. They notice that the stowaway has gone, and Ruby, looking at the sun behind the clouds, says that she remembers where she knew him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.