Botany Bay

1952

Adventure / Drama / Romance

5
IMDb Rating 6.1/10 10 611 611

Director

Top cast

James Mason as Capt. Paul Gilbert
Jonathan Harris as Tom Oakly
Skelton Knaggs as Newgate Prisoner Drawing on Cell Wall
Ben Wright as Deck Officer Green
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
864.29 MB
986*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 34 min
Seeds 15
1.57 GB
1480*1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 34 min
Seeds 41

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Maverick1962 7 / 10

A gift of a role for James Mason

Here's another film about transporting prisoners to Australia in the 18th century. I can't comment on the accuracy of the history here but this is a subject that often gets used as the backdrop to films or TV series. It does allow scope for adventure, a bit of swashbuckling, usually a dose of brutality and often a pretty heroine. All are present here with Alan Ladd as a doctor wrongly accused of highway robbery, the beautiful and perhaps underrated Patricia Medina as the heroine, Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the governor at Botany Bay and best of all, James Mason as the brutal sea captain giving one of his most charismatic performances ever that I've seen and that's many. Mason simply steals every scene he's in and you can't take your eyes off him and he certainly gives. Charles Laughton a run for the money in Mutiny On The Bounty. I understand it was all shot on backlots at Paramount which can give a claustraphobic feel when it needed opening up with location work but even so passes a couple of hours fairly successfully.

Reviewed by Bunuel1976 6 / 10

BOTANY BAY (John Farrow, 1953) **1/2

I recall catching this as a kid on local TV, a screening which, most probably, came about via the personal print of the film-buff sexton who calls over a number of friends, me included, from time to time to his private home theater in order to share in his vast movie collection on 16 and 35mm. Based on a book by the authors behind "Mutiny On The Bounty", this follows a very similar path – with a ship's crew at the mercy of a martinet captain (James Mason basically returning to the kind of role which had made him a star in his homeland); his opposition is led by medical student(!) Alan Ladd (typically dour) who's actually one of the many prisoners bound for exile in far-away Australia, among whom is also leading lady Patricia Medina (predictably, over the course of the film, she also becomes a personal object of contention between the two male stars).

Despite such imposing credentials as scriptwriter Jonathan Latimer and director Farrow, the film perhaps fails to rise consistently above the routine – not even with such unusual plot points as Mason's adoption of a banned form of punishment (keel-hauling); during the latter stages, then – as the company sets ashore, and we also get to meet Governor Sir Cedric Hardwicke – the film tends to lose the initial momentum of the ship-board brutality. Suffice it to say that the film I watched just prior to it, CARTOUCHE (1962; with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Claudia Cardinale) was over 20 minutes longer but seemed to me to have moved at a much quicker pace! Even so, BOTANY BAY remains a good example of the colorful entertainment they used to churn out in the old days, given an extra edge by Mason's compelling portrayal (which, if anything, suggests that he'd have made a marvelous Captain Bligh).

For the record, John Farrow directed Alan Ladd for the fifth and last time here after what looks like a run of mostly unassuming action potboilers: CHINA (1943), the equally seafaring TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST (1946), CALCUTTA (1947) and BEYOND GLORY (1948). It must be said here that, locally, Alan Ladd was a very popular film star with my father's generation and, apart from the immortal Western SHANE (1953), it's a pity that he seems to have been undeservedly forgotten with the passage of time.

P.S. Useless bit of trivia: I have just come across an allegedly uncut copy of the controversial WAKE IN FRIGHT aka OUTBACK (1971; with Donald Pleasence) taken from an Australian TV screening and, as the credits rolled, an announcer informs the audience to tune in at the same time tomorrow for a screening of…BOTANY BAY!!

Reviewed by bkoganbing 6 / 10

Too bad it wasn't shot in Australia

Other reviewers of Botany Bay have complained about the lack of location shooting in this film. Two very good reasons for Paramount's decision to opt for the back lot. First it was expensive to go to Australia for an American company. I'm sure that there are Aussie films that deal with this particular portion of their history far better than Botany Bay.

But secondly this was the last picture on Alan Ladd's Paramount contract. He and his agent/wife Sue Carol made a decision to move to Warner Brothers so Paramount was getting rid of the last film on his contract. They were not about to spend big bucks promoting a star who wasn't going to be bringing in more box office for them.

Having said that Botany Bay is not a bad film and it certainly did give American audiences some idea about the founding of Australia as a haven for convict prisoners. One of our original 13 colonies, Georgia, was founded for just that reason also, but here a whole continent was devoted to same.

Ladd plays an American accused of being a highwayman in Great Britain. The fact he was an American probably played some role in his conviction so shortly after the American Revolution in the 1780s. He's saved from the hangman by this offer of pardon to go to Australia and he travels on a crowded ship, skippered by a sadistic captain.

Who is played by James Mason who basically steals the film. The novel on which this is based is by Nordhoff and Hall who wrote Mutiny on the Bounty and there's a whole lot of Captain Bligh in Mason. We've also got Patricia Medina, a saucy wench who likes Ladd, but flirts with Mason for her survival on the ship in some comfort.

Not a bad film, but not the greatest of send offs for one of Paramount's biggest stars.

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