Plymouth Adventure (1952)

104-105 mins | Adventure, Romance | 28 November 1952

Director:

Clarence Brown

Writer:

Helen Deutsch

Producer:

Dore Schary

Cinematographer:

William Daniels

Editor:

Robert J. Kern

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening cast credits differ in order from the end credits. Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, Van Johnson and Leo Genn are all listed below the opening title, followed, in order, by Dawn Addams, Lloyd Bridges, Barry Jones, John Dehner, Tommy Ivo, Lowell Gilmore and Noel Drayton. The end credits begin with Gilmore “as ‘Edward Winslow’,” and end with Tracy “as ‘Capt. Christopher Jones’.” A written prologue begins with the words: “The history of mankind is the record of those who dared to adventure into unknown realms” and ends with a dedication to “the immortal men and women who dared to undertake the Plymouth Adventure and so brought to a continent the seed that grew into the United States of America.”
       According to HR news items, Bronislau Kaper was initially set to score the film, Peter Lawford was at one time cast, and Tierney was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox. According to a 1 May 1950 MGM News press release, Deborah Kerr was to be the female lead of the film and William A. Wellman was to direct. News items also note that portions of the film were shot on the ship the Queen Juliana . A 7 Mar 1952 HR news items indicated that Philip Friend was testing for the role that was to have been played by Peter Lawford, but Friend was not in the released film. According to various HR news items, actors Bob Wilkinson, Owen Pritchard, Jeffrey Pritchard, Paul Salata, Bruce Carruthers and Jack Dwyer were cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. ... More Less

The opening cast credits differ in order from the end credits. Spencer Tracy, Gene Tierney, Van Johnson and Leo Genn are all listed below the opening title, followed, in order, by Dawn Addams, Lloyd Bridges, Barry Jones, John Dehner, Tommy Ivo, Lowell Gilmore and Noel Drayton. The end credits begin with Gilmore “as ‘Edward Winslow’,” and end with Tracy “as ‘Capt. Christopher Jones’.” A written prologue begins with the words: “The history of mankind is the record of those who dared to adventure into unknown realms” and ends with a dedication to “the immortal men and women who dared to undertake the Plymouth Adventure and so brought to a continent the seed that grew into the United States of America.”
       According to HR news items, Bronislau Kaper was initially set to score the film, Peter Lawford was at one time cast, and Tierney was borrowed from Twentieth Century-Fox. According to a 1 May 1950 MGM News press release, Deborah Kerr was to be the female lead of the film and William A. Wellman was to direct. News items also note that portions of the film were shot on the ship the Queen Juliana . A 7 Mar 1952 HR news items indicated that Philip Friend was testing for the role that was to have been played by Peter Lawford, but Friend was not in the released film. According to various HR news items, actors Bob Wilkinson, Owen Pritchard, Jeffrey Pritchard, Paul Salata, Bruce Carruthers and Jack Dwyer were cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       According to a Var article on 26 Nov 1952, when the film opened, descendants of those who sailed to North America on the original Mayflower complained about the way their ancestors were portrayed. Former congressman Maurice Thatcher, Deputy Governor General of the National Society of Mayflower Descendants, took particular exception to the portrayal of “Dorothy Bradford,” who was, according to Thatcher “eminently respectable” and not involved in any scandal as shown in the film. Thatcher claimed that the film altered the facts of incidents that happened to Priscilla Mullins to make it appear that they happened to Bradford because Bradford drowned, leaving no descendants, whereas Mullins’ descendants “raised the roof” when they learned about incidents that were to be dramatized on the screen. Another Var article described similar complaints by Mayflower descendants after a special screening of the film for the Washington, D.C. chapter of the National Society of Mayflower Descendants. Following the screening, the 300-member chapter passed a resolution denouncing “the contamination of the reputation of Dorothy Bradford.”
       As loosely depicted in the film, the Mayflower set sail from Plymouth, England on 21 Sep 1620. The ship carried 102 passengers and a crew of 21 (some sources list the combined total at 135) on the voyage to North America. The ship arrived at what became Provincetown, MA on 21 Nov 1620. On that day, forty-one of the male passengers signed The Mayflower Compact, a document that was intended to formulate just and equal laws by which the new colony would be governed. A replica of the original ship, called Mayflower II , set sail from Plymouth, England on 20 Apr 1957 and docked in Plymouth, MA on 13 Jun 1957 at the site of the colony established by the Pilgrims, Plimoth Plantation. The ship was a gift from the people of Britain to the United States.
       According to a 1952 article in AmCin , about twenty-five percent of the shots of the Mayflower were actually studio-made miniatures. The article also noted that, under the auspices of A. Arnold "Buddy" Gillespie, head of M-G-M's Special Effects department, Miniatures Department head Don Jahraus and processor Carroll Shepphird, miniatures were constructed and shot in Ansco Color by Max Fabian. The film won an Oscar for Special Effects and, according to MPA , it was one of the top twenty highest-grossing films of the year.





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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Sep 52
pp. 386-87, 400-402.
Box Office
25 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
20 Oct 1952
p. 3.
Film Daily
20 Oct 1952
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1951
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 1952
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 1952
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 1952
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 1952
p. 2
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1952
p. 12, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 1952
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 1952
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1952
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 1952
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1952
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
28 Nov 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Oct 52
p. 1581.
New York Times
13 Nov 1952
p. 35.
New York Times
14 Nov 1952
p. 20.
New York Times
30 Nov 1952.
---
New Yorker
29 Nov 1952.
---
Newsweek
1 Dec 1952.
---
Time
24 Nov 1952.
---
Variety
22 Oct 1952
p. 6.
Variety
24 Nov 1952.
---
Variety
26 Nov 1952.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Miniature photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward
SOUND
Rec supv
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles by
Makeup created by
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Col consultant
Col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Plymouth Adventure by Ernest Gebler (New York, 1950).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
28 November 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 November 1952
Los Angeles opening: 27 November 1952
Production Date:
24 March--late May 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 October 1952
Copyright Number:
LP2013
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
104-105
Length(in feet):
9,390
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15965
SYNOPSIS

In August 1620, a group of religious Englishmen known as the pilgrims wait on a Southampton dock to sail to America. Their trip has been financed by Virginia investors, who plan to make a compact with the voyagers to work five days a week for the Virginia company and two days for themselves. Although not a pilgrim himself, young carpenter John Alden is eager for adventure and signs on for the voyage, as do several others. The captain of the ship, called The Mayflower , is Christopher Jones, a cynic, who takes payment from Mr. Weston of the Virginia company to change the ship’s course to New England but not tell the passengers. Once onboard, John finds himself quartered with William Brewster, the fugitive leader of the pilgrims, but does not tell the authorities. Just before the Mayflower sets sail, Weston reveals that terms of the compact have been changed and the settlers will need to work seven days a week for the company. When the passengers refuse to sign, Jones realizes that Weston had planned this and had secretly been buying the bankrupt New England company in the hope that the hardworking pilgrims would make it profitable. Because the voyage has already been paid for, Jones agrees to keep his passengers. The night before sailing, Jones gets drunk in a local tavern and when he comes back onboard, encounters Dorothy Bradford, the pretty, younger wife of William Bradford. Attracted to Dorothy, Jones tries to force himself on her, but her screams summon Bradford. The next morning, August 6th, the ... +


In August 1620, a group of religious Englishmen known as the pilgrims wait on a Southampton dock to sail to America. Their trip has been financed by Virginia investors, who plan to make a compact with the voyagers to work five days a week for the Virginia company and two days for themselves. Although not a pilgrim himself, young carpenter John Alden is eager for adventure and signs on for the voyage, as do several others. The captain of the ship, called The Mayflower , is Christopher Jones, a cynic, who takes payment from Mr. Weston of the Virginia company to change the ship’s course to New England but not tell the passengers. Once onboard, John finds himself quartered with William Brewster, the fugitive leader of the pilgrims, but does not tell the authorities. Just before the Mayflower sets sail, Weston reveals that terms of the compact have been changed and the settlers will need to work seven days a week for the company. When the passengers refuse to sign, Jones realizes that Weston had planned this and had secretly been buying the bankrupt New England company in the hope that the hardworking pilgrims would make it profitable. Because the voyage has already been paid for, Jones agrees to keep his passengers. The night before sailing, Jones gets drunk in a local tavern and when he comes back onboard, encounters Dorothy Bradford, the pretty, younger wife of William Bradford. Attracted to Dorothy, Jones tries to force himself on her, but her screams summon Bradford. The next morning, August 6th, the Mayflower and its companion ship, the Speedwell set sail. Young William Button happily says that he will be the first to see the new world, a vow written down by Gilbert Winslow, who chronicles the voyage. By August 15th, the Speedwell is on the verge of sinking and Jones determines that both ships must return to England. Although the passengers concur, Jones is irritated that Bradford has insisted that the passengers vote on the issue. In Plymouth, eighteen of the Mayflower passengers decide to remain in England, and the rest vote to allow those on the Speedwell to sail with them, despite Jones’s warnings of danger and short rations. After setting sail again, the Mayflower encounters dry weather, and water is limited. When John helps fellow passenger Priscilla Mullins obtain some fresh water for washing, she then passes it around, and eventually Dorothy tosses it overboard. First mate Coppin sees this and drags her to Jones, who reveals how low the water supply is, but says that there is always water for a friend of the captain. Insulted, Dorothy rushes back to her cabin, where Bradford brusquely tells her not to interact with the sailors. Soon the weather turns cold and William, among others, comes down with lung fever. A large storm hits, and the passengers are terrified. When a woman mistakenly reports that her son is on deck, Bradford goes to find him and falls into the water, but is saved by Jones and Gilbert. As the storm rages, the mast falls and one of the timbers beneath the deck breaks. The ship is only saved from foundering when John suggests that they use a large printing press in the cargo hold to hoist the ceiling. The press works and for the first time, Jones smiles. After the storm passes, Dorothy goes to Jones to thank him for saving her husband. He sends her away, but notices that before leaving, she gently touches his jacket. By October, the voyage has taken its toll on the passengers, many of whom have come down with fever or scurvy. Rations and firewood are dangerously low as the cold increases. One night, Dorothy approaches Jones on deck. He admits his longing for her, but she merely says that she has discovered his secret, that he has a heart. On Wednesday, November 8th, the sixty-fourth day of their voyage, one of the dogs on the ship finds a dead land bird. Some of the passengers bring William on deck, but as he looks out, he collapses and dies. After he is buried at sea, land is finally sighted. Although the passengers think that they have reached Virginia, crewman Greene tells them that it is New England, but assumes that they will stay only a few days before sailing on. When Bradford and the other leaders go to see Jones, he tells them that they will be staying in New England. Bradford, who guessed that their arrival in New England was not accidental, tells Jones that they have decided to stay because it is less tied to England than the Virginia colony, and says that the colonists have far greater inner strength than Jones. Bradford then suggests a new compact to the other passengers, one that will unite them in the new world. Some of the men, led by Bradford, go ashore in the area they call New Plymouth. Before leaving the ship, Bradford tells Dorothy that everything that has happened on the ship will be forgotten, then reveals how much she means to him. Later, Dorothy goes to Jones’s cabin to ask him to stay instead of taking the ship back to England as planned. He asks her to return with him, and they kiss, but she says that it is wrong to leave her husband. Jones counters that it is equally wrong to stay and think of another man, after which a troubled Dorothy goes on deck. Three days later, the men return, and Bradford is told by Brewster that Dorothy went over the side and drowned. After showing his contempt for Bradford, Jones goes to his cabin and sobs. When Coppin comes to the cabin to demand they sail back to England, Jones fights him and orders his crew to return to their posts. In early April, the fifty-six colonists who lived through the winter are thriving, with houses built and crops planted. Jones, who has become a trusted friend, is bid farewell by the grateful colonists, and he thanks them for teaching him about the human spirit. Prior to sailing, Jones admits to Bradford, with whom he has become close, that he loved Dorothy, but says that she never betrayed her husband. As the Mayflower sets sail, it fires a salute. +

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

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