Botany Bay


1h 34m 1953

Brief Synopsis

In 1787 prisoners from London's Newgate Gaol are to be shipped to New South Wales. Hugh Tallant is an American medical student whom, we learn at sea, was falsely imprisoned. Because of his attempt to escape, evil Captain Gilbert decides to return him to England on charges of mutiny. Events, including arrival of plague, keep Tallant busy in New South Wales.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 28 Oct 1953; New York opening: 29 Oct 1953
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Botany Bay by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (Boston, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

In 1787, in London's Newgate Prison, convicts Hugh Tallant, Ned Inching and Thomas Oakley are selected to sail to New South Wales as part of a new program designed to alleviate overcrowding in British prisons. While boarding their ship, the Charlotte , Hugh, an American, catches the eye of Sally Munroe, one of many female prisoners. When two sailors begin fighting over the feisty Sally, the ship's captain, Paul Gilbert, intervenes, then doles out harsh punishment for the seamen and 3rd Mate Spencer, the officer in charge of the deck. Before sailing, Hugh is introduced to influential convict Nick Sabb, a former London fence who uses his wealth to bribe the guards and sailors. Producing a recent London broadsheet, Sabb reveals to Hugh, who was convicted of highway robbery along with Thomas and Ned, that he has been exonerated by his great-uncle in Maryland, whose money he was accused of stealing, and is to receive a royal pardon. With Sabb's help, the shackled Hugh is allowed to speak with Gilbert and explains that he robbed his London agent only because the agent had been stealing funds sent by his great-uncle to finance Hugh's medical training. Although Gilbert believes Hugh's story, he refuses to delay departure until the pardon arrives. Gilbert then gives Sally, a former actress accused of theft, her own quarters, without shackles, on condition that she "behave." On his way back to the brig, Hugh knocks his guard out and jumps overboard, but soon is re-captured. As punishment, Gilbert has Hugh flogged fifty times and salt rubbed in his wounds. Later, Hugh offers Sabb, Thomas and Ned £1,000 to help him escape during a scheduled stopover in Rio de Janeiro. Sally, meanwhile, learns from convict Rev. Thynne, a victim of religious persection whom Gilbert has befriended, that Phillips, the governor of New South Wales, has enacted a law giving land to married couples. Sally immediately thinks of Hugh and asks Thynne to use his influence with the captain to procure the ship's surgeon post for Hugh. Later, Hugh offers to look at Spencer's arm, which has been broken, but Spencer, not wanting to act improperly, declines. Sally then tells Hugh that Gilbert has agreed to name him ship's surgeon, but Hugh refuses the position, insinuating that Sally compromised herself to obtain it. Hurt, Sally slaps Hugh, and later, the other female prisoners, angry over Sally's favored status, start to brawl with her. Gilbert again breaks up the fight and reprimands Spencer for not controlling the prisoners. In his quarters, Gilbert tries to seduce Sally, and when she resists, threatens to send her back to England. In response, Sally declares that she is friendly with Gilbert's rich brother-in-law and will expose Gilbert's lechery to his wife unless he leaves her alone. That night, at Spencer's request, Hugh resets the officer's broken arm and reveals his escape plan. Later, young Nat Garth, who has been imprisoned with his mother Nellie, is caught trying to return a compass that an older convict stole from Gilbert's quarters and is sentenced to solitary confinement. While secretly visiting Nat, Hugh notices that another prisoner has collapsed, but before he can examine him, a guard declares the sick man has the plague and agitates the other sailors to confront Gilbert. When Hugh then reveals that the man merely has scurvy, Gilbert angrily relieves Spencer of his duties. Then, shortly before they are to dock in Rio, Gilbert accuses Spencer and Hugh of plotting Hugh's escape and hints that someone has betrayed Hugh. Gilbert cancels the stopover and sends Hugh and Spencer to solitary confinement. Later, during a severe storm, their cells, along with Nat's, are flooded, and Nat dies. A grief-stricken Nellie stabs Gilbert, but only slightly wounded, the captain shoots and wounds Nellie, then orders her hanged. As they are now near Cape Town, Hugh, no longer in solitary, decides to go ahead with his escape and has Sabb hide Nellie in one of his rum barrels, hoping to trick Gilbert into thinking she has fled with him. Accompanied by Spencer, Hugh takes off in a longboat, but soon discovers that the Charlotte is following. After Hugh and Spencer are caught, the sadistic Gilbert commands that they be keelhauled. Spencer dies, but Hugh survives after Thynne intervenes and threatens to report Gilbert to the governor. When the ship finally reaches New South Wales and docks in Botany Bay, Thynne and Gilbert, who has uncovered Nellie's hiding place, discuss the convicts with the governor. Phillips decrees that both will have fair trials, but Hugh must work at hard labor in the meantime. While Hugh begins planning another escape with Thomas and Ned in the rock quarry, Gilbert tries to interest Sally in returning to England with him. When Sally refuses, Gilbert deduces that she is pining for Hugh and plots with Sabb, the traitor, to force Hugh to return to England. Gilbert informs Phillips that, by law, Hugh must return to England to face mutiny charges. Sure that Gilbert intends to kill him, Hugh tells Thomas, Ned and Sabb that they must escape that night, but Sabb leads the men into a trap on the beach. Before Gilbert and a group of armed marines can claim victory, however, aboriginal warriors attack, and Gilbert is speared to death. After Sabb runs away, the convicts and the marines fight the natives, eventually chasing them off. Hugh then discovers that some of the marines have the plague and orders their ship quarantined. Hugh cures the men, and Phillips later grants him and the other Botany Bay convicts their freedom. After Hugh reveals his desire to stay in New South Wales, he and Sally look forward to a happy future together.

Cast

Alan Ladd

Hugh Tallant

James Mason

Capt. Paul Gilbert

Patricia Medina

Sally Munroe

Sir Cedric Hardwicke

Gov. Phillips

Murray Matheson

Rev. Thynne

Dorothy Patten

Mrs. Nellie Garth

John Hardy

Nat Garth

Hugh Pryse

Ned Inching

Malcolm Lee Beggs

Nick Sabb

Anita Bolster

Moll Cudlip

Jonathan Harris

Thomas Oakley

Alec Harford

Jenkins

Noel Drayton

3rd Mate Spencer

Brendan Toomey

Guard

Ben Wright

1st Mate Green

Bruce Payne

Doctor

Harry Martin

Sailor

Gilchrist Stuart

Sailor

Ivan Hayes

Sailor

Bill Nind

Sailor

John Trebach

Sailor

Russ Saunders

Sailor

Walter S. Pietila

Sailor

James Van Horn

Sailor

Loren Brown

Sailor

Patrick Aherne

Boatswain mate

Margaret Brewster

Old woman prisoner

Ivis Goulding

Prisoner

Anita Martell

Prisoner

Barbara Bendle

Prisoner

Gwen Caldwell

Prisoner

Bert Rumsey

Prisoner

Linda Wittman

Prisoner

Skelton Knaggs

Prisoner

Helen Winston

Prisoner

Kay English

Prisoner

June Jeffery

Prisoner

Cecile Descant

Prisoner

Joanne Arnold

Prisoner

Louise Saraydar

Prisoner

Stanley Mann

Prisoner

Keith Mcconnell

Longboat guard

Patrick Whyte

Guard

Michael Hadlow

Guard

Frank S. Hagney

Guard

Phillip Rock

Guard

Don Dunning

Helmsman

George W. Watkins

Helmsman

Bobbie Hale

Tompkins

Jerry James

Navy lieutenant

Sean Mcclory

Marine sergeant

Jack Raine

Governor's aide

Tudor Owen

Warden

Leslie Denison

Convict with bandaged neck

Kenneth Hunter

Middleton

Robert R. Stephenson

Turnkey

Basil Tellou

Sentry

Don Lawton

English prisoner/Marine

Joey Ray

Marine

Hugh J. Mclaughlin

Marine

Eddie H. Mclean

Marine

Jim Davies

Marine

Ashley Cown

Nineteen-year-old

Kitty, A Koala

Kelly, A Koala

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 28 Oct 1953; New York opening: 29 Oct 1953
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Botany Bay by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (Boston, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Sean McClory (1924-2003)


Sean McClory, an Irish-born actor who appeared in scores of American movies and made countless appearances on television shows, died on December 10th of heart failure at his home in Hollywood Hills. He was 79.

Born on March 8, 1924 in Dublin, Ireland, he became a leading man at the famous Abbey Theatre in the early '40s and relocated to the United States shortly after World War II. His first roles were small bits as a police officer in two RKO quickies: Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (both 1947). He eventually graduated to more prestigious pictures like The Glass Menagerie (1950), Les Miserables (1952) and John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952).

After a few more supporting roles in quality pictures: Niagara (1953); the sci-fi chiller Them! (1954); and for John Ford again in The Long Gay Line (1955), McClory turned to television. He kept busy for several years with guest roles in a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits (1964) and countless others. By the mid-'60s, McClory became slightly more heavy-set, and began tossing off variations of jovial, "oirish" blarney for, yet again John Ford in Cheyenne Autumn (1964); and in a string of Disney pictures: Follow Me, Boys! (1966, his best role, a moving performance as the alcoholic father whose behavior alienates his son, played by a 15-year old Kurt Russell); The Happiest Millionaire (1967), and The Gnome-Mobile (1967), before he returned to television. His final role was in John Huston's acclaimed Irish opus The Dead (1987). He is survived by his wife, Peggy Webber McClory.

by Michael T. Toole
Sean Mcclory (1924-2003)

Sean McClory (1924-2003)

Sean McClory, an Irish-born actor who appeared in scores of American movies and made countless appearances on television shows, died on December 10th of heart failure at his home in Hollywood Hills. He was 79. Born on March 8, 1924 in Dublin, Ireland, he became a leading man at the famous Abbey Theatre in the early '40s and relocated to the United States shortly after World War II. His first roles were small bits as a police officer in two RKO quickies: Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (both 1947). He eventually graduated to more prestigious pictures like The Glass Menagerie (1950), Les Miserables (1952) and John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952). After a few more supporting roles in quality pictures: Niagara (1953); the sci-fi chiller Them! (1954); and for John Ford again in The Long Gay Line (1955), McClory turned to television. He kept busy for several years with guest roles in a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits (1964) and countless others. By the mid-'60s, McClory became slightly more heavy-set, and began tossing off variations of jovial, "oirish" blarney for, yet again John Ford in Cheyenne Autumn (1964); and in a string of Disney pictures: Follow Me, Boys! (1966, his best role, a moving performance as the alcoholic father whose behavior alienates his son, played by a 15-year old Kurt Russell); The Happiest Millionaire (1967), and The Gnome-Mobile (1967), before he returned to television. His final role was in John Huston's acclaimed Irish opus The Dead (1987). He is survived by his wife, Peggy Webber McClory. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

The figurehead on the prow of the ship is a full body and face cast of Jan Sterling.

Notes

The film opens with a lengthy written explanation about the state of England's prisons in the late 18th century and King George III's plan to send convicts to New South Wales. Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's novel was published serially in The Saturday Evening Post from 27 September-November 1, 1927. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Paramount bought the rights to the story in August 1941 on the basis of a verbal outline, intending to film the project "within the year." Nordhoff and Hall also wrote the popular "Bounty" trilogy, which included the novel Mutiny on the Bounty. Although Alex Frazer is listed in the CBCS in the role of "King George III," that part was not included in the viewed print. Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items list Rex Thompson, Peter Pagan and Wayne Schafer in the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.
       Botany Bay marked Alan Ladd's last film for Paramount, the studio under which he had been under contract for many years. The film also marked the motion picture debut of Jonathan Harris (1914-2002), the popular television character actor who portrayed "Dr. Smith" on the series Lost in Space. According to a October 16, 1953 New York Times item, the world premiere of the picture took place at the San Diego Zoo in southern California.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 1953

Released in United States Fall October 1953