Films of Henry Hathaway: Down to the Sea in Ships — 19 Comments

  1. Thanks, David, and welcome; yours is (to my knowledge) the first comment here from Across the Pond. Needless to say, Down to the Sea is one of my favorite movies too; in addition to the DVD from Loving the Classics that I used to illustrate my post, I have an absolutely flawless 16mm print — not a scratch, splice or line on it from first frame to last. I do wish Fox would release a Region 1 DVD, preferably with a good commentary and plenty of juicy supplements.

    As for Dean Stockwell, Hathaway did mention one weakness in his acting. There was one scene Dean's mother kept asking Hathaway to put off shooting; finally he asked her why, and the truth came out: the boy couldn't laugh on cue. "Why didn't you tell me?" he said, and he had the scene adjusted accordingly ("Well, if they can't do it, they can't do it."). Otherwise, as you can see, he had tremendous respect for Stockwell's ability, and rightly so.

  2. Hi, Jim, yours is a superb review of one of my all time favourite movies. I agree with every word you say about this wonderful picture. I also agree with Henry Hathaway's opinion of Dean Stockwell. He was totally wonderful in this and his acting was so very moving. He was able to show real emotion, to cry convincingly on queu and to involve the audience in his performance, taking them with him all the way. I have the film on a Region 2 DVD released by Fox in Spain. It is the original English language version and a beautiful transfer. Only the DVD cover is in Spanish. For some reason, Fox have released a lot of their old movies on DVD in Spain, but not in the UK or US.

    David Rayner,

  3. I'm with you, Eve: Dean Stockwell's performance in The Secret Garden is superb; I'd put it second to his job in Down to the Sea only because he's so thoroughly American playing an English boy. Even so, Hathaway's description ("Intense little guy.") was never more clearly illustrated. He's amazingly intense in Garden; the movie as a whole deserves to be better remembered.

  4. I have not seen DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS – which is mystifying since I spent a good part of my childhood glued to the TV whenever an "old movie" aired. You certainly bring it to life here, Jim, and I'll make a point of seeking it out.

    Not too long ago I happened upon THE SECRET GARDEN on TCM. I'm referring to the 1949 version with Margaret O'Brien, Herbert Marshall, Gladys Cooper, Elsa Lanchester – and Dean Stockwell. I've seen the film many times and was not watching very closely this go 'round. However, at some point Dean Stockwell caught my attention and, as I watched, I was mesmerized by his superb performance. Margaret O'Brien was the star of the film, but she seemed strictly the 'child actor' next to Stockwell, whose performance was natural and unaffected, much more modern…

  5. Thanks, Dorian, for the holiday wishes; a Merry Christmas to you, Vinnie, and yours as well, with a Happy New Year thrown in for good measure.

    By all means keep an eye out for Down to the Sea at FMC, but if you grow impatient, it's also available here from Loving the Classics, in a quite-nice transfer (the pics on this post are all frame-caps from it).

  6. Jim, I had heard of DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS (not the Clara Bow version :-)), but like apparently so many others, I never got a chance to watch it. Your stirring blog post really has be interested in seeing the film, especially with that great cast and crew! I loved your line about young Dean Stockwell: "…he seems even to grow taller as the story progresses (and it's all in his acting; the shooting schedule wasn't that protracted)." I'll keep an eye on the Fox Movie Channel to catch up with it!

    Jim, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours from all of us here at Team Bartilucci H.Q.!