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directed by Clarence Brown
USA 1952


In 1620, a group of religious outcasts boarded the Mayflower in England and set sail for the New World, where they founded a tiny wilderness outpost that was the genesis for what would become the United States of America. This is their thrilling story, a tale of hardship and devotion, of storms, hunger and disease faced and defied. Screen great Spencer Tracy portrays the Mayflower’s skipper, whose clenched heart is opened by his love for a gentle passenger (Gene Tierney) and the unfaltering courage of the pilgrims. Clarence Brown’s forthright direction, Miklos Rozsa’s hymn-tinged score and Academy AwardŽ-winning* special effects that thrust the viewer into twisting, towering seas await all who experience this memorable Plymouth Adventure.


MGM's special effects department pulled out all the stops for the studio's lavish tribute to the pilgrim spirit and even won an OscarŽ for the impressive storms at sea they created. It wasn't enough to turn Plymouth Adventure (1952) into a box-office winner, though. Around the studio it was quickly dubbed MGM's "Thanksgiving turkey." Years later, studio head Dore Schary would admit "there weren't enough descendants of the original Mayflower passengers to help it cross over to success." But despite the picture's problems, there was still a lot of great talent at work.

To begin with, Schary assigned the production to director Clarence Brown, a long-time studio veteran. To many that might have seemed a strange choice. Brown was best known as one of Greta Garbo's favorite directors on films like Flesh and the Devil (1926) and Anna Karenina. On Plymouth Adventure, he even used her favorite cameraman, William Daniels, who did a brilliant job of combining the special effects work with sweeping vistas of the Atlantic. But Brown had another specialty as a director often overshadowed by his work with the Swedish superstar. From Ah, Wilderness! in 1935 to Intruder in the Dust in 1949, he had helmed a string of powerful family films, often with a keen sense of the American spirit. That made him the perfect choice to captain this tale of some of the first Americans.

Excerpt of review from TCM located HERE


Theatrical Release:  November 14th, 1952

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DVD Review: Warner Home Video (Warner Archive Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Warner Home Video

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:44:20

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Dolby Digital 1.0 (English)
Subtitles None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (4:13)

DVD Release Date: November 9th, 2010
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Chapters 26



Plymouth Adventure has some high points with Spencer Tracey giving his usual strong performance - not enough Tierney for my tastes - and there is an educational factor as well. It has remained, though, a kind of ineffectual film - that is not well-remembered, but now - almost 60-years later it has appeal for fans of the stars and vintage cinema in general.

Warner put this title in their 'Archive' collection and is labeled under the "Re-mastered Edition" marquee. It is dual-layered and progressive and while not replicating Technicolor brilliance as precisely as some fans might desire - it, nonetheless, does a pretty good job in that department. I watched this on a plasma and like Warner Archive's The Boy With Green Hair  - one can easily identify that this is the distinctive Technicolor appearance with its bold hues - probably looking as good as it can in the SD-DVD format. It is reasonably clean and has some grain showing. Detail is modest but overall it gave a consistent presentation.

The mono sound is decent but unremarkable and there are no subtitles offered. The only supplement is the film's trailer - looking unrestored as compared to the feature - which may have simply had a good cleaning.

Luckily, I was in the mood when I watched Plymouth Adventure. While I wouldn't say it is the 'rousing sea-epic' as described in the trailer - it has some impressive moments - mostly carried on Tracey's shoulders. There is some definite excitement - but certainly not enough for today's spoiled movie-goers. This is recommended only for fans of Tracey and Tierney and you don't get a lot of the latter. Some may wish to spin for the Technicolor - which can bring back some nostalgia all by itself. 

  - Gary Tooze



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