Cast & Crew
On board the salvage boat Sea Witch in the storm-tossed English Channel, John Sands and his partner Mike Duncan receive notice of a gale warning, then moments later, find themselves in the path of an oncoming ship. When their frantic signaling goes unanswered, Mike and John manage to steer the Sea Witch out of the vessel's path. John identifies the ship as the Mary Deare and is perplexed that the bridge appears unoccupied. Hoping to claim the ship as salvage if it is abandoned, John boards the Mary Deare and finds the bridge empty, but is intrigued by a map with the current course plotted. In the captain's quarters, John locates the cargo manifesto which lists the ship's freight as tea, cotton and airplane engines and finds several letters identifying the ship's commander as Capt. Taggart. Going below, John finds the bulkhead damaged and leaking profusely, then is startled by the appearance of an exhausted, bedraggled man. Upset when John addresses him as Capt. Taggart, the man identifies himself as Gideon Patch, the former first officer who took command when Taggart died unexpectedly four days earlier. When John advises Patch that the Mary Deare is drifting toward the dangerous French Les Minquiers coral reefs, known to the British as "the Minkies," Patch orders him off the ship. Although puzzled by Patch's behavior, John returns to the deck where the gale is blowing near full strength. As Mike struggles to hold the much smaller Sea Witch alongside the Mary Deare , John slides down a rope, attempting to swing across to his boat, only to be continually buffeted violently against the side of the bigger ship. When John begins slipping down the rope, Patch pulls him back aboard the Mary Deare and Mike sets off for the nearest port. Under John's prodding, Patch reveals that he has been unable to signal for help because of the destruction of the radio room in a fire earlier. Patch then declares he believes the same person who set the radio room on fire tried to knock him out, but refuses to elaborate further. Frustrated by Patch's strange account and inaction, John goes to the boiler room to attempt to build up enough steam to steer the drifting Mary Deare away from the Minkies. After stoking the boiler room fire all night and helping start the engines, John is shocked to discover that Patch has plotted and steered a course directly into the Minkies. When John accuses Patch of deliberately attempting to wreck the Mary Deare , Patch orders him to continue stoking. Confused and unable to handle the ship alone, John complies and Patch drives the Mary Deare aground on the Minkies reef. The next morning, as the men prepare to sail the lifeboat to St. Malo, Patch tells John that the Mary Deare was badly damaged by two mysterious fires and an explosion and that he was knocked unconscious just before the crew abandoned ship. Patch hopes that an independent company will be appointed by a court of inquiry to examine the ship. Later, after a rescue plane spots the lifeboat, Patch pleads with John not to reveal the location of the Mary Deare until the inquiry. Reunited with Mike at St. Malo, John learns that years earlier Patch was involved in the loss of a ship, resulting in a suspension of his master's ticket for several months. That afternoon John, Patch and the hostile Mary Deare crew are questioned by the insurance company's underwriter. When first mate Higgins insists that Patch panicked during the second fire and gave the abandon ship order, Patch angrily knocks him down. Upon returning to South Hampton, John, Mike and Patch are met by Mr. Petrie, a representative of the ship's owner, Mr. Gunderson. Petrie questions John about the location of the Mary Deare , but John remains evasive. The following day, Patch travels to London to meet with Taggart's daughter Janet who admits that although she hadn't seen her father in several years, they corresponded regularly. Patch asks if Janet's father wrote her from Rangoon and explains that he boarded the Mary Deare after the ship left Rangoon, as a replacement for a sick officer. Janet reads Patch the letter which reveals that the Mary Deare was docked in Rangoon for four days next to another ship from China, whose captain Taggert knew well. That night, John prevents Patch from sailing on a rental boat and promises to remain silent about the Mary Deare only if Patch vows not to return to the wreck on his own. The next week at the court of inquiry, during questioning, Patch testifes he believes that the fires and explosion were part of a plan by the crew purposely to sink the ship to collect insurance on the cargo of airplane engines. Patch declines to comment on Taggert, describing him as ill, but when pressed, admits the captain was perennially drunk. During a break, Patch tells John he must make sure that Taggert's letter read into evidence, as he suspects the engines were transferred in Rangoon to the China-bound ship, also owned by Gunderson. Back in court, Patch's credibility is questioned when his earlier suspension is revealed and he is accused of being responsible for the infirm Taggert's death. Patch asserts his suspicion of the cargo removal, but is dismayed when the owner's lawyer reveals a French salvage ship has located the Mary Deare . Patch acknowledges that he hid the location of the Mary Deare out of fear that the owners would try to intentionally sink the ship before the evidence of the missing cargo could be revealed. The court chairman dismisses Patch's outburst, and announces the inquiry will be adjourned pending the French salvage company's findings. Outside, Patch pleads with John to take him back the Mary Deare so that he can prove his suspicions, but John refuses. Janet then relates to Patch that she has overheard Gunderson ordering Higgins to join the salvage ship. That afternoon, John and Mike discover the Sea Witch missing, but later locate Patch refueling the vessel. Patch insists he must return to the Mary Deare not only to prove his theory, but because he fears a murder charge. Patch then explains that after the fire and explosion, he demanded Taggert order an investigation, but the captain refused. When Patch attempted his own investigation, Taggert threatened him at gunpoint, after which Patch struck him and Taggert died from falling into the cargo hold. Concerned that he may be charged with obstruction by the court, John agrees to return with Patch to the Minkies. When the Sea Witch nears the Mary Deare that evening, the men observe that Higgins has already arrived. John and Patch dive and swim unobserved through the battered bulkhead to the cargo hold where they find the engine boxes filled with heavy stones. Higgins spots Patch's underwater flashlight and attempts to trap the men in the hold and then harpoon them, but Patch tricks and attacks him. Meanwhile, concerned with John and Patch's lengthening absence, Mike comes on board the Mary Deare and, summoning the harbor police, has Higgins is arrested. Later, Patch thanks John for helping him clear his name.
Terence De Marney
Jean Del Val
Kalu K. Sonkur
A. Arnold Gillespie
Charles K. Hagedon
Harold E. Wellman
F. A. Young
The Wreck of the Mary Deare
Heston plays John Sands, a boat salvager who, on a rough English Channel, finds the floating, still-burning wreck of a ship called The Mary Deare. Sands assumes the crew has abandoned ship, and is ready to call it his own. But, upon boarding, he finds a man named Gideon Patch (Cooper), who insists that he is still piloting the vessel. Sands, however, grows convinced that Patch is trying to wreck and sink The Mary Deare on a reef. This all evolves, somewhat surprisingly, into a courtroom drama, during which the reasons for Patch's strange behavior become evident. Although rarely shown today, The Wreck of the Mary Deare is a unique picture featuring two of the more powerful actors in screen history, and it contains a couple of thrilling action sequences.
Over the years, Heston has written extensively about his career. Consequently, his thoughts on The Wreck of the Mary Deare are a matter of public record. He described his fears of acting opposite Cooper in an April 27, 1959 diary entry, when he wrote "...I wonder how well I can possibly come off in this. It's more and more clear this is Cooper's film." However, Heston amended that entry when the diary was published years later, under the title The Actor's Life: "Well, of course it was Cooper's film. After having borne witness all my moviegoing life to the enormous presence he brought to the screen, I should've been able to figure that out. 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. He was a lovely gentleman (that sadly outmoded word) and a total professional. There aren't many like him."
The Wreck of the Mary Deare was well received by most critics when it was released, although it didn't fare well at the box office. Several critics praised the opening sequence, during which Heston's character boards the ship in a torrential rainstorm. Heston described the shooting of this difficult sequence in his diary: "All my practice rope-climbing in the Paramount gym didn't mean a damn thing when I had to do the shot today, climbing from the deck of the tug in the big tank at MGM, up to the deck of the Mary Deare. What with the wind, spray, wet rope, and the rolling ship, it was a hell of a lot different from the gym. I popped a ligament or something on the first take and barely made it the last ten feet up and over the rail."
When director Michael Anderson asked Heston for another take on the rope, the actor moaned that that would be his one and only attempt. Nurses immediately applied heat to his injured shoulder, and he was able to work again before the day was finished. But viewers could argue that Heston's commitment was well worth it; the scene is all the more exciting because you can clearly see that it's Heston climbing the rope during the "storm," and it immediately kicks the movie into high gear.
Even with all that, Heston was right - the star of The Wreck of the Mary Deare is Gary Cooper. Heston admired Cooper enough to write glowingly about him in yet another of his books, In the Arena: "There's a great deal to be said about Coop. For one thing, he was a far better actor than he was given credit for, with a deft comic touch, and an understated impact in serious roles. Within his range (defined in part by his size and formidable presence) he was a riveting actor." He goes on to lionize Cooper, as did much of the movie-going public, stating, "If this wasn't what the American man was, it was what he was supposed to be."
Producer: Julian Blaustein
Director: Michael Anderson
Screenplay: Eric Ambler (based on the novel by Hammond Innes)
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing: Eda Warren
Music: George Duning
Art Design: Hans Peters, Paul Groesse
Set Design: Henry Grace, Hugh Hunt
Special Effects: A. Arnold Gillespie, Lee LeBlanc Makeup: William Tuttle
Cast: Gary Cooper (Gideon Patch), Charlton Heston (John Sands), Michael Redgrave (Mr. Nyland), Emlyn Williams (Sir Wilfrid Falcett), Cecil Parker (The Chairman), Alexander Knox (Petrie), Virginia McKenna (Janet Taggart), Richard Harris (Higgins), Ben Wright (Mike Duncan), Peter Illing (Gunderson), Terence de Marney (Frank).
C-105m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Paul Tatara
The Wreck of the Mary Deare
Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris
Harris was born October 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, one of nine children born to farmer Ivan Harris and his wife, Mildred Harty. He was a noted rugby player as a youth, but shortly after his move to London in the mid-50s, Harris studied classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. After a few years of stage experience, he made his screen debut in Alive and Kicking (1958) and quickly developed a reputation as a talented young actor. His film career became increasingly impressive with such strong supporting turns in Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
Yet it wasn't until 1963 that Harris became an unlikely star after thrilling movie viewers and critics with his electrifying performance in This Sporting Life. His portrayal of a bitter young coal miner who becomes a professional rugby star marked the arrival of a major international talent and won him the Best Actor award at Cannes and an Oscar nomination.
Strangely enough, Harris' next projects were multimillion dollar epics and he went largely unnoticed amid the all-star casts; he had a small role as Cain in John Huston's production of The Bible (1966) and in Hawaii (1966) he played a sea captain who falls in love with a married woman (Julie Andrews). He also tried his hand at a mod spy comedy opposite Doris Day - Caprice (1967). A much better role for him was playing King Arthur in the film version of the Broadway hit Camelot (1967). The movie was not well received critically, but Harris' singing skills proved to be a surprise; not only did he win a Golden Globe for his performance, but the film's soundtrack album proved to be a bigger commercial hit than the film itself. Even more surprising was his unexpected success the following year with the pop hit "MacArthur Park" - that kitsch cornerstone of lounge karaoke. The song just missed topping the Billboard singles chart in the "Summer of 1968;" It was topped by Herb Albert's "This Guy's In Love with You."
The '70s proved to be a mixed bag for Harris. He scored a huge commercial hit with his best-known film of that decade, A Man Called Horse (1970). It became a cult Western and featured him as an English aristocrat captured, tortured and eventually adopted by Sioux Indians. He also showed some promise behind the camera, co-writing the screenplay for the psychological thriller The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun (1970) and directing (as well as starring) in The Hero (1972), a drama about an aging soccer star. But the quality of films in which Harris appeared declined as the decade progressed: Orca (1977) - a terrible Jaws rip-off, The Wild Geese(1978), and worst of all, Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), in which he had a thankless role as Bo Derek's explorer father.
Based on those films and his general inactivity in the '80s, Harris' comeback performance in The Field (1990) was a wonderful surprise. In that film he played a man who has nurtured a field into a prized piece of real estate only to lose his sanity as the property is taken from him; the role earned him a deserved Oscar nomination and showed that he was still a vital screen presence. Harris took full advantage of this new spurt in his career by committing himself to many fine character roles: the cool, refined gunslinger in Unforgiven(1992), his intense portrayal of a father mourning the death of his son in Cry the Beloved Country (1995), the resident villain of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997), and as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the epic Gladiator (2000).
Yet Harris will probably be best remembered by current audiences for his portrayal of Dumbledore, the benevolent and wily head of Hogwarts School in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) which will be released nationwide in just three weeks. Harris is survived by his three sons, Jared, Jamie (both actors) and the director Damian Harris.
by Michael T. Toole
Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris
The task of bringing this novel to the screen was originally assigned to writer Ernest Lehman and director 'Hitchcock, Alfred' . Lehman eventually went to Hitchcock and told him that he couldn't come up with anything. Hitchcock told him not to worry about it, that they'd do something else. Lehman said "But what about MGM?" Hitchcock replied "We won't tell them." That "something else" that they came up with was North by Northwest (1959).
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Alfred Hitchcock was involved in the development of The Wreck of the Mary Deare and was set to direct. According to a December 1958 Daily Variety news item, after Hitchcock withdrew from the production in order to develop North by Northwest, director John Sturges was set to direct, until a delay in production and other commitments also forced him to withdraw. The film was based on the best selling novel The Wreck of the Mary Deare by Hammond Innes, a British author and avid amateur sailor. In an October 1959 New York Times article, Innes described how the novel developed from his fascination with sea mysteries, specifically that of the strange disappearance in 1872 of the crew onboard the Mary Celeste, and his own experience at sea of nearly being run down one night by a steamer.
The film differed from the novel in its storyline development, choosing to focus on "Patch's" ambiguous guilt in the death of the captain and his quest to clear his name. In the novel, a representative from the owner's company is thrown overboard by the crew and the alcoholic captain dies from being denied liquor. Patch convinces "Sands" to return with him to the Mary Deare to verify that the hold is empty of the engines, but the Sea Witch is sunk crashing against the "Minkies." Patch and Sand then engage in a fierce dingy race with "Higgins," who is intent on sinking the Mary Deare.
Released in United States 1959
Released in United States 1959