The Last Voyage (1960)
Directed by: Andrew L. Stone
Starring: Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, George Sanders, Edmond O’Brien, Woody Strode, Tammy Marihugh
“How much EXCITEMENT can explode in 91 minutes?” asks the trailer. Well, not that much, to be honest. The Last Voyage has some nice moments but is overall a rather pedestrian affair as disaster movies go.
The action takes place aboard the S/S Claridon, an old luxury liner that has just a few more trips to go before the scrapyard awaits. Among the passengers are the Henderson family – dad, mom and spectacularly annoying red-headed little daughter – who are headed for Japan. The movie opens with a fire in the engine room, and some time later a boiler explodes, severely damaging the ship. While the crew fight to stop the Claridon from sinking, Mr. Henderson has to fight to save his wife, who is trapped under a steel beam in their cabin.
For a movie dealing with this kind of situation, The Last Voyage is suprisingly static. There is quite a lot of running around and talking on telephones and barking orders, but not much actually happens. Mr. Henderson, played by Robert Stack, runs all around the ship in his mostly fruitless attempts to find a way to help his wife, and enlists the help of a crew member (Woody Strode) who also starts running all over the place. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really add any sense of actual urgency to the film. Meanwhile, the captain (George Sanders) recieves an endless stream of updates about the ship’s condition but is reluctant to do much of anything.
The fact that an actual old ocean liner, S/S Ile de France, was used and partially sunk for the shoot does add a realistic feel to some scenes, which is nice, but the actual sinking of the ship is still quite lackluster. Some parts are just strange, as when one of the smokestacks for no apparent reason tips over in a way that completely defies the law of gravity.
The film never gets very exciting or suspenseful, the characters are bland and uninteresting, and the acting isn’t much to write home about either. And the pompous and completely unneccessary narration, sounding in here and there to state the glaringly obvious, certainly doesn’t make this one any better.