Mara Maru (1952)

#1 by Robert Crewdson , Wed May 30, 2018 11:45 pm

Gregory Mason (Errol Flynn) and Andy Callahan (Richard Webb) are partners in a post-World War II salvage business in Manila. Callahan is murdered after some drunken talk about sunken treasure. Shortly after Mason’s partner is killed, Brock Benedict (Burr) approaches him with an offer. Partner with him and find the lost treasure- a reported one million dollars in diamond which apparently was lost when the PT boat Mason captained in World War Two was sunk. The jewelled Cross had originally been taken on board to stop it falling into the hands of the Japanese. Flynn and Burr set out to find the treasure. Benedict brings along Stella (Ruth Roman) the widow of Mason’s deceased partner . Stella plays both sides in her allegiance; one scene professing trust in Benedict but in the next warning off former love Mason. Flynn dives for the treasure, which turns out to be not diamonds, but an encrusted cross stolen from a church in Manila. Amazingly, Flynn recovers the cross while diving in a typhoon. Burr has no intention of sharing his fortune, and Flynn knows this, and deliberately smashes the ship's compass. Burr and a tuurncoat, played by Paul Pincerni, are forced to keep Flynn alive, as neither of them know how to navigate the ship. Unable to escape, Flynn runs the small ship aground and finally finds his way to the church, with Burr in hot pursuit. After a climactic struggle, Flynn dispatches his foe and is faced with his final decision. Return the cross to the church where it rightfully belongs or keep it for himself. He decides to return the Cross to the church.

This film was made at a time when Errol Flynn was wanting to get out of his contract with Warner Brothers, as he was not happy with the scripts he had been getting. After returning from making ' The Adventures of Captain Fabian' for Universal; a story he had written, and co-starring Vncent Price; he was very pleased upon his return to Warner's, to learn that his next film would be set in the Phillipines, until he learnt that it was to be shot at Newport Harbour, Balboa Harbour, Los Angeles Harbour and Catalina Island., The San Fernando Mission in Southern California doubled for Manila Cathedral. Other filming was done on Stage 22 at Warner's, where there was a replica of the 'Mara Maru', and a swimming pool, for the underwater scenes. Flynn was supposed to practice his diving there, prior to filming, but he deliberately set out to annoy Jack Warner, buy using his private swimming pool. According to Warner Bros. production notes,Raymond Burr lost 120 pounds for the role. During production, Ruth Roman was hospitalized for an arm injury, and during the filming of the fire sequence,Errol Flynnsuffered singed eyebrows and a burned face. Beverly Hills jeweler David Zakwin designed and constructed the jeweled cross with his sons, Ariel and Joseph .

During breaks in filming, Errol would frequently telephone his pregnant wife Patrice Wymore in Jamaica. One day, while relaxing between takes, a messenger boy from the front office brought an inter -office message for Errol, it read 'Dear Errol, it's been brought to my attention that your telephone bill has exceeded five thousand dollars. Please take care of this as soon as posssible' signed Jack Warner.
Errol wrote on the back 'Dear Jack, I'm willing to forget about this if you are, love, Errol', and gave it back to the messenger. Music for the film was composed by Max Steiner.

The critics didn't like the film; the NY Times wrote, 'The gobbledegookish title of Warner's "Mara Maru" is not the only obscure and unexciting thing about this stale adventure film. Its wholly improbable build-up of a criss-cross of rivalries to discover the clue to a treasure sunk off the Philippine coast is bleakly confused and grossly tiresome, and when the action does finally get around to the business of diving for the treasure it is hackneyed and cheaply emotionalized. Others have described it as a nautical retelling of 'The Maltese Falcon.

While not the glory days for Flynn, it's still not a bad film. The underwater diving scenes seemed realistic to me. This was my very first 16mm feature, on 3x1600ft spools It appears to have had little use, and came on what I think are it's original matching Goldberg spools. Perfect in contrast, sound, and image quality. This was quite an exiting purchase for me, not only my first 16mm feature, after handling the small Super 8, but it was also an Errol Flynn film that I had never seen in the UK, and was not available in any other format.

After making this film, Flynn returned to Universal to make 'Against all Flags', also starring Anthony Quinn and Maureen O'Hara, before returning to Warners to make what would be his final film for them under that contract, 'The Master of Ballantrae' At least Errol went out on a high, with Ballantrae, being filmed in Technicolor on location in Scotland and Cornwall, with top cameraman Jack Cardiff. It was Warner's most expensive film for 1953. After, Flynn was accused of breaking his contract, and after a fierce argument with Jack Warner, it was agreed he could leave.







 
Robert Crewdson
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RE: Mara Maru (1952)

#2 by Tom Photiou , Thu Jun 07, 2018 1:33 pm

Another classic movie Robert, you certainly have some rare stuff in your collection


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RE: Mara Maru (1952)

#3 by Robert Crewdson , Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:00 pm

Thanks Tom; it's an excellent condition print.


 
Robert Crewdson
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