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.
Iam a British disaster film fan
Great site. This surely goes in my favorites. However, I recently discovered The Last Voyage” and I really liked it. I thought Robert Stack and Dorothy Malonee have great chemistry. They did a string of films together. George Sanders’ reluctance to do anything is the great human tragedy at the heart of the film as his preoccupation with his career and cowardice causes so much suffering. Edmond O’Brien has some very heartfelt scenes with him. Real explosions on a real ship. Real sinking. Pretty awesome for 1960. Thanks again for your great site and for including this film. I can’t wait to see what else is here!
Thanks for the comments. I have actually thought a bit about The Last Voyage since I wrote the review, and have felt that I might have been too hard on it. There’s a realism to it that is lacking in most disaster films. Maybe I ought to give it a re-evaluation.
I liked it. I think you are on crack.
Damn, I didn’t think anyone would notice!
Saw this recently (thanks cg!) and I loved it! Had me hooked from the opening. (which I thought was very good, just a piece of paper being passed from one man to another, but in an understated way, got stuck right into things with a real sense of urgency)
Loved this movie. Only the end was a disappointment – clearly that was a cheap set they were using as they were running up the boat deck, and the scene of the stern’s final plunge was some old stock footage from another movie. But Woody Strode was an impressive looking man.