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Down to the Sea in Ships

(silent 1922 b 83')

En: 4 Ed: 5

Two men plot to take over a whaling ship and marry the daughter of its owner while getting rid of the man she loves.

Ship-owner William Morgan (William Walcott) brings up his daughter Patience Morgan (Marguerite Courtot) as a Quaker, and his granddaughter Dot Morgan (Clara Bow) plays. Jake Finner (Patrick Hartigan) and Samuel Siggs (Jack Baston) plot to steal a ship from Morgan. Siggs gets a job as an accountant for Morgan, and he meets Patience. Her neighbor Thomas Allan Dexter (Raymond McKee) comes home. They recall playing as children. Allan gives her an umbrella. Siggs asks Patience to marry him, but she likes Allan. He talks to her father, but he wants a Quaker whaler for her.

Allan goes to sign on a ship. Siggs tells Finner to make sure Allan does not come back. Allan is drugged and Shanghaied on to a ship that sails. Dot is missing too. At sea Allan is untied and told to work. Dot has stowed away and asks cabin boy Jimmy (James Turfler) for food.

Men cut up a whale and take its oil. Finner kills the captain, says he fell overboard, and takes over the ship. Finner and half the crew want to go to the gold fields, but the others want to go back. Finner finds Dot, and she slaps him. When he has two men strung up, a mutiny breaks out. Allan fights Finner and knocks him out. Finner is put behind bars. They go ashore for water and wood, and Dot sees birds diving for fish. Allan is promoted, and he harpoons a porpoise for fresh meat.

Wallace wants a grandson and tells Patience to marry Siggs.

A whale is seen, and they go after it in small boats. They harpoon it and are pulled over the waves. The whale overturns the boat. The whale drags three boats for hours, and finally they kill the whale that weighs ninety tons.

Patience wears her wedding dress but says she does not love Siggs. During a thunder storm Allan learns of the plot of Finner with Siggs. At night Finner gets free. Patience asks her father to postpone the wedding. She prays and then goes with Siggs to the meetinghouse. Finner decides to escape by swimming ashore, and men go after him. Allan learns of the wedding and runs to the meetinghouse. Allan fights with Finner in the rain. Siggs takes his vow. Allan breaks in through the window before Patience has taken her vow, and he embraces her. In the final scene Patience has a baby.

This melodrama portrays the difficult and dangerous work of whalers at sea, and the spiritual practices of Quakers are also depicted.

Copyright © 2006 by Sanderson Beck

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