In this unusual sea drama, Heston plays a ship salvager who comes upon a seemingly empty vessel one stormy night. He boards the smoldering ship, which apparently had been set on fire before being abandoned. While exploring this ship, dubbed the Mary Deare, Heston comes upon Cooper, the
only crew member aboard, who demands that Heston leave since the ship is not abandoned. Heston is unable to reboard his tugboat, the Sea Witch, in the rough water and nearly falls into the sea. Cooper saves him and allows him to remain on board. Heston learns that Cooper intends to drive his ship
straight into some reefs along the English Channel. This angers Heston, who then asks Cooper for contract rights to refloat the Mary Deare. Cooper refuses to give him a definite answer. He asks Heston to keep this incident quiet, and Heston reluctantly agrees after being reminded that Cooper had
saved his life. Knox, an investigator for the Mary Deare's owners, begins to look into the matter. Heston skirts around Knox's questions, but the investigator sees through him. Cooper then asks Heston not to reveal where the ship is grounded. Meanwhile, a French salvager finds the Mary Deare,
ruining Heston's plans for the ship as well as Cooper's attempts at secrecy. Cooper finally tells a court of inquiry the truth. The ship had been carrying a cargo which was dropped off in Rangoon. A fire had then been set, and the crew abandoned ship. The ship's owners now intend to collect an
insurance settlement worth millions for the long-gone cargo. Only Cooper stands in the way of their illegal intentions. The French salvage company is working hand in hand with the owners, hoping to sink the ship once it is back at sea. Cooper and Heston take scuba equipment and sneak back to the
Mary Deare, where they catch the salvage crew (led by Harris, in an early role) in the act. Cooper is cleared and shares with Heston the reward money paid out by the insurance company.
This film originally was to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who turned down the project to do NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Anderson took over and did a good job with the material. Though the script has a few gaps, Anderson pulls together the suspense elements intelligently. Heston and Cooper work well
together. Cooper's performance is slightly distant, giving the character a rugged edge. Heston was thrilled to work with Cooper, though at first he resented the fact that the film was more Cooper's than his. Heston later realized how foolish this was. In his book The Actor's Life he wrote, "Of
course it was Cooper's film... I was lucky to be in it. The experience of working with him and the friendship it created is one of the most valuable I've had in film."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: In this unusual sea drama, Heston plays a ship salvager who comes upon a seemingly empty vessel one stormy night. He boards the smoldering ship, which apparently had been set on fire before being abandoned. While exploring this ship, dubbed the Mary Deare,… (more)