February 22, 2017


Midshipman Easy – 1935 | 70mins | Drama | B&W

Plot Synopsis

Midshipman Easy

Midshipman Easy was an adaptation of Captain Frederick Marryat’s famous adventure story, Mr Midshipman Easy, the film has the advantage of retelling a yarn that thousands of Englishmen have thrilled to as adolescents. The film’s budget was as limited as other British movies of the period, and most of it was shot at the Ealing Studios in London. A minor financial and critical success in England, Midshipman Easy did not even strike the British as more than a spirited bit of ephemera and there is very little about the picture to change anyone’s mind today.

A great work of popular entertainment in its own era, Captain Marryat’s novel is a logical subject for the mass audience that attends films. Marryat, usually classified as one of the middle range authors of the early Victorian period, had enjoyed a successful career in the British navy – including distinguished service in the Napoleonic Wars – before retiring to his study to become a man of letters. Fecundity of incident was one of Marryat’s strengths; integration of plot elements was one of his shortcomings. Carol Reed and his screenwriter, Anthony Kimmins, retain about as much of the novel as they can while also imparting to the story a significantly more organic shape than Marryat. Sacrificed in the process are the novelist’s more outlandish episodes and the undercurrents of grim realism about nineteenth-century nautical life that enrich the plot. In Reed’s rendering, the episodes are essentially colourful adolescent fantasies.

In the course of his first tour of duty on the HMS Harpy, Jack Easy (Hughie Green) subdues a bullying midshipman; saves his craft during a storm; seizes a Spanish merchantman choked with gold. Jack engages in an idyllic flirtation with the nubile Donna Agnes Ribiera (Margaret Lockwood); fights a duel and captures the notorious brigand Don Silvio (Dennis Wyndham). Seen today, these heroic and amatory exploits seem neither stirring nor dramatic, though they have the exotic charm of stories from another place and another time.

Production Team

Carol Reed: Director
Edward Carrick: Art Direction
John W Boyle: Cinematography
Sidney Cole: Film Editing
Ernest Irving: Musical Director
Basil Dean: Producer
Thorold Dickinson: Producer
Anthony Kimmins: Script


Hughie Green: Midshipman Easy
Margaret Lockwood: Donna Agnes
Roger Livesey: Captain
Robert Adams: Mesty
Harry Tate: Mr Biggs
Dennis Wyndham: Don Silvio
Tom Gill: Gascoine

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