Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


MARA MARU (1952). Director: Gordon Douglas.

In the Philippines Andy Callahan (Richard Webb of The Invisible Monster) tells his partner, Gregory Mason (Errol Flynn), that he's found a big score and will likely make a million dollars. Not much later, Andy is murdered, and a man named Benedict (Raymond Burr) wants to hire Mason to help him find a batch of diamonds lost in a shipwreck. After some minor misadventures, Mason, Benedict, Andy's widow Stella (Ruth Roman), who was once involved with Gregory, a shady character named Ranier (Paul Picerni), and some others set sail on Benedict's boat, the Mara Maru, in hopes of finding the treasure. Any hope that there might be some excitement or suspense in the movie itself goes pretty much unrealized in this distinctly minor adventure that suffers from undeveloped characters, a weak script, dull direction from Gordon Douglas, and an ending that is so sanctimonious you could choke on it. The acting is okay, with Picerni [The Brothers Rico] and Burr [Pitfall] making the best impression. An unintentionally comical scene has Gregory and Stella practically making out when husband Andy's body is still warm. The best thing about Mara Maru is the score by Max Steiner, who gives the picture a lot more than it deserves. Bar Owner "Big China" is well-played by Michael Ross, who later was the alien giant and the bartender in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Verdict: Manages to make love triangles, murder, undersea exploration, and sunken treasure pretty boring. *1/2.


Gary R. said...

As a former member of the (now defunct) Max Steiner Music Society, I always appreciate it when you give props to one of Steiner's film scores. Thanks!

William said...

Thank you, too! Steiner was one of the great film composers and one of my favorites. Sorry to hear that the Society is defunct.

angelman66 said...

Steiner is indeed brilliant, and prolific...just watched In This Our Life from 1942, directed by John Huston, starring Bette Davis and Olivia deHavilland...and another solid Steiner score.

William said...

That score is one of my absolute favorites -- just lovely -- it adds immeasurably to a movie that I already like very much!