The Beachcomber


1h 32m 1939

Film Details

Also Known As
Vessel of Wrath
Release Date
Mar 10, 1939
Premiere Information
London premiere: early Mar 1938; New York premiere: late Dec 1938
Production Company
Mayflower Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree,Great Britain; France
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Vessel of Wrath" by W. Somerset Maugham in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Apr 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

In the South Seas, on the border of the colonial empire of the Netherlands, drunken beachcomber Edward C. Wilson, known as "Ginger Ted," is arrested when English missionary Martha Jones and her brother, Dr. Owen Jones, accuse him of corrupting the native women, who enjoy his free-spirit and charm. Reluctant to deport his one true friend, the controleur sentences Ginger Ted to three months' hard labor but sends him to Agor Island, where he is surrounded by attentive native women. When Owen gets malaria, Martha must travel past Agor Island to take care of a patient. On her return, Sergeant Henrik stops to pick up Ted at the controleur's request, and they are forced to spend the night on the island. Returning home, Ted wins the Jones's affection for respecting "the virtue of Miss Jones," but refuses their friendship until a typhoid epidemic breaks out, and he is needed to give inoculations with Martha. While among the natives, Ted and Martha are jeopardized because the natives believe the sickness is punishment for allowing Martha to convert their leader, Albert, to Christianity and therefore blame the white couple. After Martha tries to stop the natives from worshipping an idol, Albert's wife brings their sick daughter to the hut, which the natives then surround. As the drum beats accelerate outside the hut, Ted apologizes to Martha for scorning her religion, saying his disagreeable father was a vicar, and she confesses that her father drank himself to death. As a result of a serum Martha administers, the little girl recovers and the natives accept the inoculations. Ted and Martha then marry and return to England, where they become the owners of the Fox and Rabbitt Darts Club.

Film Details

Also Known As
Vessel of Wrath
Release Date
Mar 10, 1939
Premiere Information
London premiere: early Mar 1938; New York premiere: late Dec 1938
Production Company
Mayflower Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
Great Britain and United States
Location
Elstree,Great Britain; France
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Vessel of Wrath" by W. Somerset Maugham in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Apr 1931).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film was produced under the title Vessel of Wrath and released in the U.S. as The Beachcomber. It was the first of three Pommer-Laughton productions (see entries for Jamaica Inn and Sidewalks of London below). The film was distributed in the United Kingdom by the Associated British Picture Corp. A November 1938 Variety review states that U.S. censors cut the film, which accounts for the numerous lengths found. American release lengths are 86 and 88 min., while British lengths are 93 and 95 min. In her autobiography, Elsa Lanchester, who was married to Charles Laughton, states that the film's American premiere took place in New York City on Christmas Eve, 1938, at the Rialto Theatre in Times Square, where she gave a speech. Lanchester also gives a London premiere date of March 4, 1938. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item on August 25, 1937, location shooting in the south of France had begun with Bartlett Cormack directing from his own script. Hollywood Reporter production charts throughout the production at Elstree Studios also list Cormack as director, although Erich Pommer is credited with direction on the screen. It is possible Cormack directed location sequences and some studio scenes. Motion Picture Herald reported rumors that Hollywood producers were giving actors the script of The Beachcomber to use for screen tests, as well as showing them the film itself, because they believed them to be "examples of present day perfection." The Beachcomber was re-issued as Vessel of Wrath in 1949 by Renown Picture Corp. In 1954, London Independent remade this film with Muriel Box directing and Robert Newton and Glynis Johns starring.