John Carradine and Peter Lorre
6 March 2014
If 1957's "Hell Ship Mutiny" looks like three TV pilots strung together (and with two directors listed) that's because that's exactly what it is, a 1955 unsold series titled KNIGHT OF THE SOUTH SEAS. Jon Hall, his acting career winding down (just two more features ahead), his recent TV series RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE now past, actually helped build up his father's acting career, as Swiss-born Felix Locher went on to do "Curse of the Faceless Man," "Frankenstein's Daughter," "House of the Damned," and STAR TREK's "The Deadly Years." Having opposed each other in "The Hurricane" and "The Invisible Man's Revenge," Hall and John Carradine are nearly the whole show in these poverty stricken circumstances, until Peter Lorre joins them in the third act, as a corrupt French commissioner whose interest in pearls almost equals Carradine's. Still looking fit and trim at 42, Jon Hall makes for a stolid hero, this vehicle designed to show off his underwater cinematography (his production company named after his grandmother Lovina), but its shipboard intrigues remain claustrophobically studio bound, the final battle beneath the sea rendered an unwatchable bore (the multi expensive James Bond film "Thunderball" encountered the same problem). Lorre as usual is underused but amusing, so it's up to the mustachioed Carradine to carry the perfunctory villainy; you can't be very effective if a tired Jon Hall can defeat you three times in the course of a 66 minute excuse for a feature. Carradine had previously crossed swords with Peter Coe in 1944's "House of Frankenstein," going back to the old contract days at 20th Century-Fox with Peter Lorre, equally memorable as hobos in "I'll Give a Million" (together again even in Lorre's last film, 1964's "The Patsy").
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