Abandon Ship (1957)

98 mins | Drama | May 1957

Director:

Richard B. Sale

Writer:

Richard B. Sale

Producer:

John R. Sloan

Cinematographer:

Wilkie Cooper

Editor:

Raymond Poulton

Production Designer:

Wilfrid Shingleton

Production Company:

Copa Productions, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Seven Waves Away and Seven Seas Away . The film opens with an offscreen narrator describing the tragedy of the wreck of the SS Crescent Star as if reading aloud a story from a newspaper. The film closes with the narrator relating the fate of the captain, who was sentenced to six months in prison. The narrator then asks the audience if they believe the captain to be innocent or guilty. Abandon Ship marked Tyrone Power's first and only starring vehicle for his production company, Copa Productions, Ltd. According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, Power originally wanted Hildegarde Neff to play the role of "Edith Middleton." Filming was done at the Shepperton Studios in London, England. Although the Var review notes that the story was based on a "true incident," an Apr 1957 NYT news item casts doubt on that supposition, stating that the story was "reportedly based on a sea saga." The film's production files at the AMPAS Library make no mention of a true incident. The story also served as the basis for the 4 Apr 1975 NBC "world premiere movie" titled "The Last Survivors." The television version starred Martin Sheen, Diane Baker and Tom Bosley and was directed by Lee ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Seven Waves Away and Seven Seas Away . The film opens with an offscreen narrator describing the tragedy of the wreck of the SS Crescent Star as if reading aloud a story from a newspaper. The film closes with the narrator relating the fate of the captain, who was sentenced to six months in prison. The narrator then asks the audience if they believe the captain to be innocent or guilty. Abandon Ship marked Tyrone Power's first and only starring vehicle for his production company, Copa Productions, Ltd. According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, Power originally wanted Hildegarde Neff to play the role of "Edith Middleton." Filming was done at the Shepperton Studios in London, England. Although the Var review notes that the story was based on a "true incident," an Apr 1957 NYT news item casts doubt on that supposition, stating that the story was "reportedly based on a sea saga." The film's production files at the AMPAS Library make no mention of a true incident. The story also served as the basis for the 4 Apr 1975 NBC "world premiere movie" titled "The Last Survivors." The television version starred Martin Sheen, Diane Baker and Tom Bosley and was directed by Lee Katzin. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Apr 1957.
---
Daily Variety
8 Mar 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Mar 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1956
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1956
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Aug 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 57
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Mar 57
p. 313.
New York Times
18 Apr 57
p. 35.
New York Times
21 Apr 1957.
---
Variety
13 Mar 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Still cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Scenic artist
FILM EDITORS
Assembly cutter
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair dressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Casting
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Seven Waves Away
Seven Seas Away
Release Date:
May 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 17 April 1957
Production Date:
9 July--7 September 1956 at Shepperton Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
Copa Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
1 May 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9078
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
98
Length(in reels):
10
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the South Atlantic, the luxury cruise liner the SS Crescent Star strikes a discarded land mine and sinks in the ensuing explosion. Of the ship’s 1,156 passengers, only twenty- seven survive. Among them is Executive Officer Alec Holmes, who clings to the flotsam of the ruined vessel. When Alec sees ship’s nurse Julie White, with whom he is in love, foundering in the water, he swims out to save her. From a lifeboat in the distance, Will McKinley, one of the ship’s officers, beckons to Alec and Julie to join them. The boat, built to hold nine passengers, soon is overburdened by the twenty-seven survivors that have sought refuge there. Once Alec reaches the boat, the ship’s fatally injured captain, Paul Darrow, passes his command and his cherished ring to Alec, admonishing him to “save as many as he can.” After Darrow dies, Alec dons the captain’s jacket, then orders his body cast over the side. Alec’s first crisis of command arises when Aubrey Clark, one of the passengers, begs to keep his beloved dog aboard. After the blustery Maj. Gen. Barrington demands that the dog be sacrificed, Alec brandishes his revolver and threatens to charge the major with mutiny if he refuses to follow orders. Alec then declares that the dog will stay aboard to serve as food if necessary. When Alec asks Jill to examine the passengers for injuries, she reports that Frank Kelly, the ship’s engineer, has been riddled with parts from the engine explosion. Mrs. Kilgore, the mother of little Peter, is ... +


In the South Atlantic, the luxury cruise liner the SS Crescent Star strikes a discarded land mine and sinks in the ensuing explosion. Of the ship’s 1,156 passengers, only twenty- seven survive. Among them is Executive Officer Alec Holmes, who clings to the flotsam of the ruined vessel. When Alec sees ship’s nurse Julie White, with whom he is in love, foundering in the water, he swims out to save her. From a lifeboat in the distance, Will McKinley, one of the ship’s officers, beckons to Alec and Julie to join them. The boat, built to hold nine passengers, soon is overburdened by the twenty-seven survivors that have sought refuge there. Once Alec reaches the boat, the ship’s fatally injured captain, Paul Darrow, passes his command and his cherished ring to Alec, admonishing him to “save as many as he can.” After Darrow dies, Alec dons the captain’s jacket, then orders his body cast over the side. Alec’s first crisis of command arises when Aubrey Clark, one of the passengers, begs to keep his beloved dog aboard. After the blustery Maj. Gen. Barrington demands that the dog be sacrificed, Alec brandishes his revolver and threatens to charge the major with mutiny if he refuses to follow orders. Alec then declares that the dog will stay aboard to serve as food if necessary. When Alec asks Jill to examine the passengers for injuries, she reports that Frank Kelly, the ship’s engineer, has been riddled with parts from the engine explosion. Mrs. Kilgore, the mother of little Peter, is suffering from broken ribs, and Mrs. Ruth Spencer has a battered arm that will have to be amputated. With only one gallon of water aboard, Alec allows the survivors only two sips a day and warns that anyone countermanding his orders will be thrown overboard. Alec’s hopes that a nearby cruiser is steaming to their rescue are dashed when he learns that "Sparks" Clary, the ship’s radio operator, was unable to send out a distress signal because the ship’s transmitter had been smashed in the explosion. With no other alternatives, Alec calculates that the closest land is in Africa, 1,500 miles away. To alleviate the overload, Alec orders the men to take shifts floating in the water beside the boat. Sarcastically addressing Alec as “brave captain”, socialite Edith Middleton insists on taking her own turn in the sea. As Mrs. Kilgore begs for a drink of water, the dying Kelly warns Alec that unless he disposes of the “useless” passengers, all will die. As a storm approaches, Kelly stands up and proclaims that he is dead, as are Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Kilgore. After declaring that Alec must put twelve people over the side, Kelly leaps to his death. When the winds begin to rage, Alec startles the survivors by announcing that the weak must go and orders McKinley, his second-in-command, to toss Mrs. Spencer over the side. Shocked by Alec’s heartlessness, McKinley goes overboard with her. Next, Alec orders Mrs. Kilgore and her husband George into the water. When George insist that their young son Peter join them, Michael Faroni, one of the passengers, promises to take care of the boy, who then watches as his parents are cast away to certain death. After Alec orders Aubrey into the water, his dog leaps in after him. The elderly Mrs. Dorothy Knudsen meets her death with dignity when she is commanded to go overboard. Julie watches in horror and disbelief as Alec pronounces the death sentences, one by one. As Edith recites the roll call of death, Faroni pulls out a knife and orders Alec to turn back and save the others. Alec’s revolver is out of bullets, so he seizes a flare gun and shoots Faroni. Before dying, Faroni hurls his knife into Alec’s shoulder. As the storm hits with gale force winds, Alec rallies the survivors to keep rowing. When the storm finally wanes, the survivors are amazed that they are still alive. Although the others thank Alec for saving their lives, Jill warns that he will live in shame for his actions. Believing that he is dying, Alec passes his command and ring to Clary, then jettisons himself overboard. After the others pull him back into the boat, a ship’s horn is heard in the distance and they fire a flare to signal the vessel. As the ship steams toward them, every survivor literally turns his back on Alec, except for Edith, who insists that he made the right decision. After thanking his crew for their courage and help, Alec instructs them to row toward the ship. Upon reaching their rescuers, Clary turns and hands the ring back to Alec. Later, after facing trial for murder, Alec is convicted, but sentenced to six months in prison due to extenuating circumstances. +

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

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