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Mark Robson
Richard Dix, Russell Wade, Edith Barrett
Writing Credits:
Donald Henderson Clarke

A young merchant marine officer begins to suspect that his ship's captain is mentally unbalanced and endangers the lives of the ship's crew.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 69 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 10/19/2021
Available As a Double Feature with Bedlam

• None


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The Ghost Ship [Blu-Ray] (1943)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 13, 2022)

For an entry from famed producer Val Lewton, we head to 1943’s The Ghost Ship. At the film’s start, we meet seaman Tom Merriam (Russell Wade).

Tom signs up to work on the crew of the Altair under Captain Will Stone (Richard Dix). Initially, this assignment goes well, and Captain Stone turns into a sort of paternal figure for Tom.

However, matters veer darker as the voyage progresses. Deaths begin to mount, and Tom grows to fear that Captain Stone may not be as kindly as he seems.

On this same disc, we find 1946’s Bedlam as well. Like Ship, Lewton produced that one and Mark Robson directed it.

While not a classic, Bedlam offered a pretty effective thriller. Given that positive impression – and a good experience with 1945’s Lewton/Robson effort Isle of the Dead as well - I went into Ship with moderately high hopes.

Alas, Ship failed to live up to these expectations. While not a bad film, it seems somewhat slow and plodding.

Only Robson’s second feature, perhaps the director needed a little more time to get his sea legs. Granted, Isle acted as his fourth film – and Bedlam his fifth – so it’s not like Robson enjoyed tons of cinematic experience between these movies.

Still, Robson seems unable to steer this particular Ship in an especially compelling direction. The movie tends to feel like a noir take on Mutiny on the Bounty, but it jumps around too much to bring much impact.

Plenty of missteps occur, with the biggest related to the decision to let the Altair dock and allow Tom to leave the vessel. This sends the story to a hearing about Captain Stone that feels misguided and anti-climactic.

It then seems strange that after all these experiences, Tom gets back on the Altair. Sure, Ship digs up a rationale for this, but it still comes across as a mistake.

Really, I feel Ship would work best if all involved stayed stuck in the claustrophobic confines of the title craft. The story loses a lot of menace and darkness when we see Tom’s time away from the boat, and the movie never recovers.

Without spoilers, I also want to note that the film’s actual climax fizzles. We get no real revelations or any kind of “big finish”, so the flick mostly just… ends.

Some aspects of Ship manages to churn up a bit of interest, so the film doesn’t become a total loss. However, it comes with little more than vague conflicts and menace that fail to end up as anything dramatic of dynamic.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus F

The Ghost Ship appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film looked quite good.

In general, sharpness satisfied, as the movie usually appeared well-defined. Some softness popped up for the occasional shot, but the majority of the flick boasted nice delineation.

Shimmering and jaggies remained absent, and edge haloes also failed to appear. The movie’s grain structure felt natural, and print flaws didn’t mar the proceedings.

Blacks appeared deep and dark, and contrast came across well. Shadows held up nicely as well. The movie still gave us a positive presentation.

Similar thoughts greeted the sturdy DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Ship, as it held up nicely over the decades. Speech could seem a bit thin, but lines were intelligible and concise enough.

Music and effects displayed the expected restricted dynamic range, but they showed acceptable clarity and didn’t suffer from distortion. The mix lacked pops, clicks, hum, or other defects. This was a more than competent track for a movie from the 1940s.

No extras appear here, though as noted in the body of my review, Ghost Ship comes as part of a double-feature with 1946’s Bedlam.

Though it occasionally shows signs of life, too much of The Ghost Ship feels slow and plodding. The film just never gets in the groove it needs as a psychological thriller. The Blu-ray brings solid picture and audio but it lacks bonus features. While this doesn’t become a bad movie, it doesn’t really engage.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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