Last Voyage, The (1960)

Last Voyage, The (1960)

“I have never lost a ship and I’m not losing this one!”

While travelling on an ocean liner to Tokyo, a man (Robert Stack), his wife (Dorothy Malone), and their child (Tammy Marihugh) find their lives in danger as the ship begins to fail, and the captain (George Sanders) refuses to acknowledge the gravity of the situation. Thankfully, a pragmatic engineer (Edmond O’Brien) attempts to take charge, while a sailor (Woody Strode) supports Stack in rescuing his wife from being pinned under twisted iron.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • At Sea
  • Disaster Flicks
  • Dorothy Malone Films
  • Edmond O’Brien Films
  • George Sanders Films
  • Robert Stack Films
  • Woody Strode Films

This chock-a-block disaster flick — inspired by both the sinking of the SS Andrea Doria in 1956, and of course the Titanic — was filmed onboard the soon-to-be-scrapped SS Ile de France, and apparently provided a seriously dangerous experience for much of the cast and crew. The storyline is notable for getting to the disaster itself almost immediately, with very little time spent on character development; the only family we follow (Stack, Malone, and Marihugh) takes center stage alongside the ongoing drama of the captain and his increasingly distressed crew.

Stack and Malone — having previously co-starred in Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind (1956) and The Tarnished Angels (1957) — make a natural couple, though their plight is one of pure survival; Malone, especially, is put through the wringer, spending the majority of the film trapped, disheveled, hysterical, contemplating suicide, and/or nearly drowning:

As her heroic savior, Strode was apparently cast in a “colorblind” fashion, but his race inevitably heightens narrative tensions as we wonder if or when racist concerns and stereotypes will emerge:

Meanwhile, O’Brien is justifiably outraged throughout much of the film:

… due to Sanders playing yet another variation on A Man You Simply Loathe. His Captain Adams is infuriating to watch — not just because his laissez-faire attitude is wantonly killing people, but because he truly doesn’t care, surrounds himself with yes-men, and won’t listen to reason from those around him who understand the gravity of the situation much better than he does (flashback to 2020, anyone?):

Married couple Andrew and Virginia Stone (who wrote, produced, directed, and edited the film) unfortunately chose to incorporate an unnecessary, distracting voiceover throughout the movie, provided by George Furness:

She has an appointment with the scrap-yard – but it’s an appointment she will never keep – for this is the last voyage…

However, there’s enough action and disaster here to satisfy those who enjoy this type of non-stop, heart-pounding thriller.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Truly impressive “special effects” and action sequences

Must See?
No, though fans of disaster flicks will of course want to check it out.


One thought on “Last Voyage, The (1960)

  1. Not must-see, but not bad as a ‘Poseidon Adventure’ or ‘A Night to Remember’-Lite.

    (Yes, the narration is unnecessary.)

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