Hell Ship Mutiny (1957) Poster

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John Carradine and Peter Lorre
kevinolzak6 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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Jon Hall goes slumming...
MartinHafer28 January 2016
Back in the early to mid 1940s, Jon Hall was a very handsome leading man who made some wonderful escapist films for Universal Studios, such as "Cobra Woman", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Hurricane". However, by the 1950s, Hall was no longer much of a box office draw and contented himself to work for some third-rate studios. In this case, "Hell Ship Mutiny", he made it for the minuscule Lovina Productions!

When the film begins, Captain Knight (Hall) arrives on an island only to discover that all the locals have been taken prisoner and are being used as slaves to do some incredibly deep dives for pears. Many of the folks die as a result and the evil Malone (John Carradine) couldn't care less. Fortunately, the Captain is able to escape and ends up taking these jerks prisoner. What ISN'T so fortunate is that after taking them aboard the ship so that he can take them to prison, they break loose and commandeer the ship. Can the Captain break free once again and save himself and the crew from these thugs? And, if he does, will his problems be over or will a new one be waiting for him when he lands the boat?

You know a film isn't all it's cracked up to be when the Captain has a pet chimp named 'Salty'. Salty's adorable in his little sailor costume but really unnecessary and silly. But the rest of the film isn't terrible. It's not really good because the writer had the baddies escape THREE times...and I would have just thought the Captain would have killed them before this! Not terrible as a time- passer but not much more. And certainly NOTHING like Hall's films with Universal.
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Aloha oy
Anne_Sharp30 July 2001
Jon Hall, who starred in several exotic adventure-romances with Dorothy Lamour and Maria Montez in the thirties and forties, seems to have had a dual purpose in making this rather retro sarong film. One was to promote his new underwater movie equipment rental business (the plot provides for lots of shots of Jon and friends diving for pearls, engaging in underwater tussles, looking at fishies, etc.) The other was to express a love that dared not speak its name, at least to Dorothy or Maria. The lumpish Polynesian princess that's Jon's nominal love interest appears to take second place in his affections to a puckish little brown boy in an abbreviated pareu, and there's a lot more buff male bodies on display on his island paradise than the expected female ones. As ever, however, the cutest item on display is Peter Lorre, in an all too brief comic turn as a visiting colonial circuit judge.
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Not As Bad as the Rep
Michael_Elliott13 June 2009
Hell Ship Mutiny (1957)

** (out of 4)

A Captain (Jon Hall) travels to a tropical island to see some friends when he learns that three bad men (led by John Carradine) are holding the natives hostage. Hall's team are able to take them over and on the boat back to the main land they escape and take Hall hostage. This here has been a film I've been meaning to watch for over fifteen years but could never locate it on video and I didn't even realize until a week ago that budget label Alpha had released it on DVD. This was a Republic film so it's doubtful the Alpha release is too official but at least it's finally out there. The movie wasn't as bad as I had heard and even though it's not that good I'd still recommend it to fans of Carradine and Peter Lorre who has a brief role at the end of the film. The production values are incredibly low and that takes away quite a bit. It appears very little thought went into anything and it's rather shocking to see Carradine and Lorre in the film. Both men certainly did low budget movies but this one here is pretty low and it was surprising that the producers got both of them. Perhaps their salaries ate away at the rest of the film? Either way, both men are a lot of fun and especially Carradine as the bad guy. Hall plays everything pretty much by the numbers but he isn't too bad. With a running time of 66-minutes there's really nothing too boring here as long as you know what you're getting into.
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A Republic B-movie worth your attention.
vitaleralphlouis18 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Of the 35 movies in my Netflix queue Hell Ship Mutiny was the one with a "Very Long Wait." Eventually it came and I'll rate it 6/10; a pretty good 65 minute B-movie that kept our interest.

Jon Hall plays the captain of a small ship in the South Seas that gets involved with trouble natives are having with a band of gunmen (led by John Carridine) who have enslaved the natives for dangerous and deadly pearl diving. Things will go from bad to worse when the captain tries to transport the captured gunmen to the authorities in Tahiti.

The thing about 55 to 65 minute B-movies by Republic and others is that yes they're made on the cheap but they involve the viewers' interest. Compare "Hell Ship Mutiny" in its current condition, faded and using "best available surviving materials" with the bloated, loud and idiotic movies of 2010 ("Inception" for example) and I'd give my thumbs up to the well-made B-movie. I scored "Inception" at 2/10 but truly it wasn't that good.
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South Seas Pilot
boblipton8 August 2019
Jon Hall is Captain Jim Knight, a "white man with a touch of Polynesian". He gets along great with the natives, especially with the local chief, played by Hall's father, Swiss Felix Locher, and beautiful princess Roberta Haynes. Evil John Carradine steals his ship, tosses his crew and native overboard, and grabs the pearls, forcing Hall to sail him to New Zealand lest he kill the Princess, or allow his henchman Mike Mazurki to force her to drink with him.

It's a pilot for a new series after Hall's moderately successful RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE ceased production, and it's as corny as it sounds. It has the saving grace of some nice casting in the villainous department: not only Carradine and Mazurki, but Peter Lorre. Apparently the TV execituves were as unimpssed as I, so Hall -- who also produced the show -- released it to theaters.
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The best "B" adventure film of 1930 finally released in 1957.
mark.waltz12 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
My tongue-in-cheek comment is meant to describe the fact that this, one of Republic's last big screen film, is a product way past its time, already done so many times before (and better), especially with some Universal adventure films starring Jon Hall (ironically the star here) almost 20 years before. This seems appropriate for pre-teenage boys of the late 50's, matinée style filmmaking, in which they could get a serial episode and a "B" western (most likely a re-release), and stay out of their mother's hair for an afternoon.

The plot surrounds a Polynesian island where villainous pirates (lead by John Carradine and Mike Mazurki) force the natives to dive for pearls. They are soon arrested by the college graduate half Polynesian Hall, prepared to be sent to Tahiti for trial, and manage to gain control of the ship. But some clever manipulations have the villains becoming at odds which results in their re-capture and trial where the judge is none other than Peter Lorre. Roberta Haynes is the very American Polynesian girl who stows away on Hall's ship, and a cute little chimp also aids Hall as well. In addition to the obviously Caucasian Haynes, there is very Caucasian version of Sabu to appeal to the youthful audience this was obviously aimed for. Considering the year this was made, it seems rather dated, but in retrospective for what it offers, it is escapist entertainment that provides nothing but 67 minutes of satisfactory thrills and a taste for popcorn.
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They Dive Until They Die
bkoganbing20 October 2011
Once John Wayne left Republic Pictures and the B picture western market had gone to television, the studio that Herbert J. Yates built was just marking time. Hell Ship Mutiny is a typical example of the product of Mr. Yates at this time. Yates was a penny pincher even when he was prospering and now that his market was drying up the production values were nil.

Jon Hall stars in Hell Ship Mutiny and he plays a South Seas schooner captain who on stopping at one of the islands on his course finds the people enslaved by some real bottom feeding pearl hunters. Told that the pearls to be found are way too deep for humans to be diving without benefit of equipment, the villains John Carradine, Mike Mazurki, and Michael Barrett. They dive until they die, one way or another.

In the short slightly over an hour the tables turn many times for the good and the bad guys. Hall has a romantic interest in Polynesian princess Roberta Haynes and Peter Lorre overacts outrageously as a greedy French commissioner.

Hall who was previously Ramar Of The Jungle probably saw this as a possible television pilot for himself. As we know that didn't work out.

It's almost impossible to make a bad looking film in the South Seas, but Republic managed to do it with cheap sets, bad lighting that's great for a noir film, but not for an outdoor adventure. And all done on Republic's back lot.

In another year Yates gave up the ghost, but I suspect in those last years Republic turned out a lot of cheap films like Hell Ship Mutiny.
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I'll fined my one true love in Timatunge
sol-kay27 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
(There are Spoilers) Even though actor Jon Hall who plays the handsome Tarzan-like, in some of the scenes in the film, hero Capt. Jim Knight put his heart and soul, as well as bank account, into this turkey of a south seas adventure film nothing was able to save it.

Even Jon's old man Felix Locher who plays the island's, Timatunge, wise old native Chief King Parea couldn't keep the movie from sinking under the waves. It was only both actor Peter Lorre as the island's French Commissioner Lamoret and the mischievous chimp Salty, Capt. Knight's third mate, that made the film worth watching. This was with Lamoret & Salty interacting in a combination Abbot & Costello and King Solomon routine about a native who stole his neighbor's wife because she trapped cooked and ate a wild pig for him that, with Salty stealing the commissioner's thunder, brought the house down.

The movie has this trio of modern day pirates Malone Ross & Pinky, John Carradine Mike Mazurki & Michael Barrett,force the peaceful and fun loving Timatunge islanders to dive under the sea to retrieve dozens of precious pearls for them. This leads to almost the entire island's male population drowning in their failed attempt to retrieve the elusive, buried under the seabed, pearls. It's when Capt. Knight and his crew showed up unexpectedly and are taken prisoners that he being part Polynesian himself, and an expert scuba diver, was forced by Malone to dive under the sea, to depths of over 100 feet, to retrieve the pearl himself.

We have Capt. Knight escape his kidnappers only to get caught again together with King Parea's beautiful daughter the island Princess Mareva, Roberta Haynes, and forced to take them, on Capt. Knight's ship the Tahiti Star, to far off New Zealand. This leads to all kinds of complications for the three pirates by Capt. Knight tricking them by going the opposite direction, thats going East instead of West, back to Timatunge.

Despite the two pirates Malone & Ross, Pinky had since departed the scene, being arrested they still manage to escape to give the movie some 20 extra minutes of running time. That turned out to be about the most exciting part in the film with Capt. Knight going into action by going underwater where his native, or Polynesian, talents came in handy.

P.S Incidentally both Jon Hall and his dad Felix Locher were not playing against type in their roles of part Polynesian or Tahitian Capt, Knight and Polynesian native Chief Parea in the fact that they in real life are of Polynesian background themselves! With Jon Hall's mother, Locher's wife, being a real-life Tahitian princess.
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