Read the Book

The novel the film was supposedly based on by Frederick William Wallace is one of my favorites, an excellent gritty sea story of a selfish, egotistical young man who finds redemption. It was way before its time in many of its themes.

The 1927 film adaptation barely resembles the original story except in the most minimal bits of information: character names, he goes to sea, there's a fallen woman (who in the novel is actually the hometown girl he wanted to marry)....and it has some bits about hypocrisy oozing all around him.

Just about everything else in the film story was created to serve as the typical formulaic moral tale. They changed the story to barely anything recognizable in order not to shock or offend, or it was the only way to get it passed by the film obscenity commission.

Anson's book character has a very well written powerful character arc. He's one selfish, cynical, egotistical, pleasure seeking SOB for two thirds or more of the novel. He uses the excuse of seeing all hypocrisy around him to actually behave badly. There's the big difference between film and novel.

Anson form the novel is in desperate need to be taught a life lesson in values, and he gets it, and that's where the power of the original story lies.

In the film he's begins as a nice, decent fellow with nothing new to learn about himself and others and by the films end, he's no different. He's still a nice guy who went through some rough times...but he's the same.

I never expected a novel like this to be so...graphic and powerful.

Where in the novel, he's so arrogant and selfish you can't help but have a hard time liking him, but it's a page turner. Then, in the last third of the book, he grows to be a lot more likable.

The novel would today make for a very good, gritty sea film. It could deal more honestly with some of the mature themes the novel explores.

The 1927 film has some wonderful sea cinematography of those wonderful old sailing vessels, but beyond that it was a great disappointment.

If you read the book, you'll know why.