Writer-director Allen H Miner’s insignificant but pacy and attractive 1967 tuna-fishing adventure drama, conceived as a vehicle for the then hot young couple Christopher Jones and Susan Strasberg, must have seemed hopelessly outmoded and way irrelevant among the smart, stylish, socially conscious movies being made way back in the Swinging Sixties.
It is a throwback to the troubled teen movies of the Fifties, a descendant of James Dean films. Screen heartthrob of the day Jones himself had become a fan of Dean as a teen after being told he bore a resemblance to him.
Jones (star of Ryan’s Daughter and Three in the Attic) was already 26 when he played the 20-year-old beach boy drifter Chubasco, who takes a job of hard labour at sea on leathery old Sebastian (Richard Egan)’s fishing boat. But soon trouble breaks out when Chubasco marries Sebastian’s lovely young daughter Bunny (Strasberg). Nevertheless, chooses learns how to become a man.
This talky, junior-league Sixties seafaring coming-of-age adventure tends to drift in becalmed waters for a lot of the time, rarely steaming full-speed-ahead. But still it is mostly entertaining and sufficiently pleasing, time spent in pleasant company.
There are amiable enough performances all round, but it is the vintage actors in the supporting cast Ann Sothern, Simon Oakland, Preston Foster, Audrey Totter) who are especially effective. However, the appealing Jones and Strasberg, who were husband and wife at the time (they married in 1965, had a daughter and divorced in 1968), spark it up too. How sad and ironic that, while good on screen together, the couple’s real-life marriage did not survive the filming.
© Derek Winnert 2017 Classic Movie Review 4847
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