30 October 2014

Phantom Ship (1935)
62 min.
Directed by Denison Clift.
With Bela Lugosi, Shirley Grey, Arthur Margetson, Dennis Hoey, Edmund Willard, George Mozart, Johnnie Schofield, Gunner Moir.
This 1936 murder thriller plays like 'ten little indians aboard a ship,' but it's a study in mediocrity that fails to make an impression.

Newly married, Captain Briggs (Margetson) and his bride Sarah (Grey) set sail aboard the Mary Celeste to transport a shipment of alcohol across the sea.

Unfortunately, Briggs' hired deck crew is a motley and untamed bunch, including mean-spirited Bilson (Willard) and the mysterious one-armed Gottlieb (Lugosi).

All goes well at first, but soon someone begins killing off the others...one by one.

The Mary Celeste is cursed, no doubt. But who's the vicious murderer onboard and what's the motive behind the slayings?

Produced by Hammer Films and based on a true story from 1872, this minor outing is adequately written and directed (both by Clift), but is saddled with a bland supporting cast and dispassioned pacing.

It's up to Lugosi to keep the whole thing afloat, and he delivers the goods. His squint-eyed performance as the embittered and vengeful Lorenzen (alias Gottlieb) is the best thing here, and essentially he alone keeps this maritime terror alive.

Also known as The Mystery of the Marie Celeste.

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