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Botany Bay

Botany Bay(1953)

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  • We are bound for Botany Bay

    • Roger Blake
    • 6/25/12

    In the late 18th and early 19th century Great Britain used to get rid of her low lifes and petty felons by transporting them off to Botany Bay(Australia)in prison ships,A motley bunch who undoubtedly needed a firm hand and strong discipline.In James Mason's captain they certainly got that.A sadistic sycopath with possible supressed gay feelings he makes Captain Bligh seem like a lovable old softie by comparison.It doesn't take long for him and the hero Alan Ladd to fall out.Ladd who has suffered a miscarriage of justice has a large chip on his shoulder.Also on board is the lovely Patricia Medina whose cleavage must have given the censors a few headaches.She is also big trouble.Mason certainly has it in for Ladd sentencing him to fifty lashes then threatening to keelhaul him.When told that nobody has been keelhauled for fifty years Mason in his best sneering voice says "I don't think its been quite that long".Ladd much to Mason's annoyance survives.John Farrow the director doesn't pull his punches depicting the horror,unpleasantness and cruelty suffered by the convicts.It may have seemed necessary at the time but to modern sensibilities it was not Britain's finest hour.It is the most realistic part of the film.When they land Australia looks like the Paramount backlot.The good news is that Mason gets his comuppence thanks to a well directed Aborigine spear.Then HOORAY Alan Ladd's pardon arrives and the benevolent governor allows Patricia Medina to become his bride(no doubt their descendents delight in thrashing England at cricket) Not a classic but a fine salty saga.

  • Hampered by studio-bound limitations

    • Alvin
    • 12/23/11

    The year is 1787. Alan Ladd and Patricia Medina play convicts being shipped to Australia on board a ship captained by James Mason. The ingredients are here for a big, bold sea-going adventure but a tight budget seems to have kept the whole enterprise confined within the walls of Paramount Pictures. Even after the ship reaches its penal-colony destination, the scenes come across as more "backlot" than "Down Under." However, the plot moves briskly and the production design, captured in fine Technicolor, manages to hold one's interest throughout. Alan Ladd, not surprisingly, has to suffer through a 50-lash flogging -- though it mostly takes place off-screen -- and if that whipping's not a sufficient dose of masochism, he later has to endure a mid-ocean keelhauling. (Has any other Hollywood star ever been keelhauled?) Acting honors go to James Mason whose portrayal of the sadistic, sexually-repressed captain lets the discerning viewer know that he and Ladd aren't actually vying for the affections of Patricia Medina. Instead, Patricia Medina and James Mason are competing for the favors of Alan Ladd. This being a film product of the 1950s era, the boy-girl combination easily wins out.

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