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Botany Bay

1953 | 4:3 | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

Alan Ladd

James Mason

Patricia Medina


Alan Ladd is Hugh Tarrant, a medical student in England who is unjustly convicted and sentenced to the new penal colony in New South Wales, Australia. James Mason is Captain Paul Gilbert, who on the surface carries no small degree of charm but soon reveals himself to be a cruel and sadistic man. Buxom beauty Patricia Medina is also on board and uses her cleavage to maximum advantage, giving the captain (and us) a good eyeful in exchange for a more comfortable journey. She is also big trouble for Tarrant. It doesn't take long for Captain Gilbert and Dr. Tarrant to fall out with each other, which leads to a number of vile cruelties - including a totally barbaric keelhauling.

Though Alan Ladd is given top billing in this picture, it is James Mason who steals the show and gives an absolutely brilliant performance. His cold, calculating and sadistic Captain Gilbert is a chilling character that has consistently left a mark on audiences for over 60 years. Director John Farrow pulls no punches depicting the horror and unpleasantness suffered by the convicts. Unfortunately Paramount did not sink a whole lot of money into this picture with it being shot entirely on the Paramount backlot. This was the last picture on Alan Ladd's Paramount contract and he was moving to Warner Brothers. Paramount was not about to spend big bucks on a star who was leaving to work for a rival. That being said, Botany Bay is not a bad film and it certainly did give American audiences some idea about the founding of Australia as a haven for convict prisoners.

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