It Was The One-Armed Man...
Bindy Sue FrÝnkŁnschtein | under the rubble | 11/01/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE PHANTOM SHIP (the Mary Celeste) sets sail with a full crew, including the captain, first mate, the captain's new bride, and a motley bunch of sea dogs. Along for the trip is Anton (Bela Lugosi), a one-armed man with a terrible connection to both the ship and her legend. Anton is an ancestor of modern day serial killers. He's bitter, crazy, and extremely dangerous. Bela pulls off the role to perfection, making Anton a bubbling volcano, erupting only when the time is right. He is the master killer, exacting his revenge with stealth and patience. The true horror of this movie is in Bela's portrayal of a man who knows he can take his time with his captive prey. He also shows a great deal of character depth, tossed about by the demons that plague his mind. The rest of the characters are just victims awaiting their doom. Watch Lugosi work his dark magic! I recommend watching it twice in a row. First to see the film, then to watch Lugosi himself. Without him, this would be a 2-3 star movie at best..."
Lugosi shine in this sea going mystery
John D. Page | usa | 08/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have looked everywhere for this lost "gem" and am happy to find it here and in such good shape. I saw this one on a rainy Saturday at the age of 10 and was blown away by the story and by Bela's performance. This may be one of the best roles he ever did.
In 1872 the ship Marie Celeste was found floating under full sail with no crew and no reason for their disappearance. This movie offers one possible solution. As the movie opens the captain of the ship is trying to get a crew together, which is hard because the ship is thought to be jinxed. After he shanghais a crew which includes Bela as a man who sailed on her before and lost his arm and most of his mind, the captain sets sail with his wife and child in tow. The sailors don't like this as "women and ships are bad luck" and sure enough things start to go wrong.
This isn't really a horror movie as it is a suspense movie so don't expect monsters here except for the human kind. If you love Lugosi or you love great suspense movies then this one will fit the bill."
Bela Lugosi Meets Hammer Films.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 03/31/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Although they are renowned today for the series of horror films made between 1954 and 1976, Hammer Films actually got their start back in the 1930s. They only made a few films before going on hiatus until after World War II when they reemerged with a series of low budget film noirs (see my earlier reviews) before embarking on the horror films that would make them world famous. The most successful of these 1930s films was the 1935 MYSTERY OF THE MARY CELESTE which would be released here a year later as THE PHANTOM SHIP (beginning a trend which would last until the 1970s of Hammer Film titles being changed in the U.S.) and shorn of 18 minutes. The missing footage deals with courtroom scenes which open and close the picture. The film is of primary interest today as an early Hammer offering and for the casting of Bela Lugosi in an important role.
Lugosi had come to England following in the wake of Boris Karloff who had come over in 1933 to make THE GHOUL, but by 1935 an outright ban on horror films in Britain had been enacted thanks to the Lugosi/Karloff vehicle THE RAVEN and so Lugosi winds up with a role that really shows his capabilities as an actor not just a screen presence. The film is based on one of the all time great maritime mysteries concerning the ship MARY CELESTE which left New York in 1872 and was found sometime later completely derelict. A lifeboat and a few items were missing but almost everything else was where it should have been including provisions and the crew's belongings. What happened? No one really knows or will know but that didn't stop people from speculating. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a story about it and this movie came up with its own scenario.
Overall the film is good but not great and it's a real curio. While the principal photography (shot on a real ship) and the lighting are very effective, the editing is perfunctory, the script is rather stilted and some of the performances are rather weak especially Shirley Grey although she sings a good sea shanty (if that was her). In fact the musical sequences are a highlight of the film. The scenes in the waterfront bar in the beginning look as if they came straight out of THE THREEPENNY OPERA. But the movie belongs to Lugosi as a broken down sailor who exhibits a surprising depth of emotion concerning his plight and the fate of others. If you're a fan of his, then you need to have this as a testament to what he could do.. If you purchase THE PHANTOM SHIP, make sure you get the Image version. Others are from poor quality prints which are only a waste of money."