Day 11 – Phantom Ship (1935)

Phantom Ship posterDay 11: Phantom Ship (1935) aka The Mystery of the Marie Celeste
Cast:      Bela Lugosi as Anton Lorenzen
Arthur Margetson as Captain Benjamin Briggs
Shirley Grey as Sarah Briggs

Story by Denison Clift
Directed by Denison Clift

Plot: The story begins with the classic love triangle as Captain Briggs steals away the lovely Sarah from his best friend, Captain Morehead. But when Briggs later asks Morehead for help on his ship, the stage is set for revenge. An untrustworthy crew, including the unstable Anton, and the scorned Morehead results in a trail or murder.

PS 1Personal Thoughts: This is one of Lugosi’s better efforts from this time period of highs and lows in his career. I found his portrayal of the mentally lost and destitute Lorenzen hauntingly prophetic of his future not too many years down the road. He turns in a very convincing performance and is the highlight of the film. The rest of the cast is adequate and the story slightly average. But the ocean setting and claustrophobic trappings of the ship enhance the murder mystery. Well worth tracking down.

PS 2Trivia:

  • One of the earliest Hammer films and the only one with a Universal horror legend.
  • Lugosi was added to the cast to help market the film in the United States.
  • Stock footage of the ships at sea blends in well and increases the overall visual presentation of the film.
  • Based on the real story of the ship Mary Celeste, found floating near Portugal in 1872 without a crew. Most stories concentrate on a supernatural element.
  • The original UK version, rumored to be some 18 minutes longer, remains lost.



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