Monday, May 7, 2012

The Sea Lion - 1921

Country: United States
Language: English
Director: Rowland V. Lee
Writers: Emilie Johnson (story), Joseph F. Poland
Stars: Hobart Bosworth, Emory Johnson and Bessie Love
Release Date: 5 December 1921 (USA)
Production Co: Hobart Bosworth Productions
Sound Mix: Silent
Color: Black and White
Plot Keywords: Castaway | Mutiny | Whaling | Sea | San Francisco California  | Melodrama
Brutish whale-hunting Hobart Bosworth (as John Nelson) is no favorite on the docks of San Francisco. The feared taskmaster captain of "The Lair" runs a tight ship, and has trouble finding men to fill a crew. Overhearing two mates discuss impending fatherhood causes Bosworth to recall when he and his wife "Dolly May" were expecting their baby… and, we "flashback" twenty years, for a bitter recollection… Bosworth returns from seafaring, with a cradle built for baby, and discovers his wife's note: "Please forget me. I have found the man I really love. Dolly." So, now we know why Bosworth's a brute...
What isn't explained is how he knows he couldn't be the baby's father. Another sloppy plot development is the changing of the "flashback" incident, later in the picture, from twenty to sixteen years ago; either Bosworth has poor recall or someone decided to make the daughter, when she finally appears as an adult, younger. While Mr. Bosworth frightens away potential sailors, young wastrel Emory Johnson (as Tom Walton) is thrown off his estate, after his father pays off a gold-digging girlfriend.
With nowhere to turn, Mr. Johnson joins Bosworth's crew, where "The Sea Lion" bullies him unmercifully. Hoping to find drinking water, the ship approaches an uncharted island. There, they find fetching young Bessie Love (as Blossom) and wizened guardian Richard Morris (as "Uncle" Billy), survivors of a sixteen-year-old shipwreck. Johnson finds Ms. Love attractive; he tries to help her avoid Bosworth, who thinks she is the daughter of his wife and her lover - but, Bosworth may not know the whole true story…
This was the last of stage veteran Bosworth's self-produced vehicles, and was definitely representative of his "silent film"-era starring roles. There was more variety in the actor's abilities, but Bosworth was most frequently seen as a snarling seafarer. Around this picture's release, he was winding down from a resurgence of popularity begun with a "comeback" appearance in "Behind the Door" (1919). In spite of chronic health problems, Bosworth sailed on into the 1940s, becoming an effective sound era character actor.

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