Ghost Ship (1943)

August 9, 2011


The fifth in the series of nine films that Lewton did for RKO (#9567) Ghost Ship came about as the result of a set that made for a film Pacific Liner (1938). He was told by his bosses that they wanted him to write a picture using the set thus the picture. Even before the Altair leaves on its voyage a man turns up dead during roll call. When a second death occurs under suspicious circumstances the third officer thinks it was murder by the captain who considered the sailor subordinate. Keep in mind that authority is the key word to the captain. An informal hearing gives no results convincing Tom Merriam (Russell Wade) that Captain Stone (Richard Dix) is going to kill him. No one believes him except for Finn, a mute played by Skeleton Knaggs who narrates some of his thoughts and in the end saves the life of Merriam from the captain who was indeed crazy. Of course there is a happy ending with Finn and Merriam steering the ship side by side as captain and mate. This film is somewhat like Sea Wolf by Jack London except it is not nearly as well written or as well done as the Warner Bros. film starring Edward G. Robinson. While Val does incorporate some of his scare tactics with sounds and unexplained things this is one of the weak entries in the series. The acting from Dix, Wade, and Knaggs was good as far as it went and given a stronger script it could have been much better. This film is readily available through many sources at a reasonable price. Score is by Roy Webb. Mark Robson, who came to RKO with Lewton from Selznick Studios, directed the picture. (**)