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Rulers of the Sea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rulers of the Sea
Rulers of the Sea.jpg
Film poster
Directed byFrank Lloyd
Written byFrank Cavett
Richard Collins
Talbot Jennings
Produced byFrank Lloyd
StarringDouglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Margaret Lockwood
Will Fyffe
George Bancroft
CinematographyTheodor Sparkuhl
Edited byPaul Weatherwax
Music byRichard Hageman
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 8, 1939 (1939-11-08)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgetat least $1,500,000[1]

Rulers of the Sea is a 1939 American historical drama film directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Margaret Lockwood and Will Fyffe.[2] The film's story is based on the voyage of the SS Savannah, the first steamship to cross the North Atlantic, from Britain to the United States. The film was made by Paramount Pictures, but featured Lockwood and Fyffe who were two of the leading stars of the British Gainsborough Pictures studios. The supporting cast features Alan Ladd.

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The film was one in a series of million-dollar "spectacles" from Paramount. It was based on the history of the Cunard Line.[3] This subject matter was inspired by the success of the movie Lloyd's of London, which led to a series of movies revolving around the history of companies. (Others from this time include Spawn of the North (1938), Western Union (1940), and Hudson Bay Company (1940).)[4]

The film used the writer and director of the hit MGM film Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Talbot Jennings and Frank Lloyd.[5]

Will Fyffe, British film star, was borrowed from Gainsborough Pictures in the US to play engineer John Shaw.[6] Filming started on his arrival in Hollywood on 19 April 1939.[7] Margaret Lockwood had also been borrowed from Gainborough.[8]

The film used two real ships,[9] the sailing vessel being Metha Nelson.

The film was made with the British audience in mind, so Paramount were worried on the declaration of war.[10]


Fairbanks Jr called it "a very boring story... very static. Lost a bundle."[11]


  1. ^ "Filmmakers Put to Sea". Variety. 21 June 1939. p. 7.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "PARAMOUNT LISTS NEW PRODUCTIONS: 1937–38 Schedule-Includes 22 'Million-Dollar' Films, the Company Announces BUDGET IS UP $10,000,000 Provides for an Unprecedented Number of Musicals-50 to 60 Features Planned Some of the Features Cartoon and Short Subjects". New York Times. June 11, 1937. p. 26.
  4. ^ Scott, John. (Mar 27, 1938). "BIG BUSINESS CRASHING FLICKER INDUSTRY: Commercial Growth Glorified in Films Steel, Rails, Shipping, Banking Are Few of Subjects Promised". Los Angeles Times. p. C1.
  5. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Lloyd Will Direct 'Rulers of the Sea,' Another in Series of 'Paramount Epics' METRO IS SEEKING CANTOR Don Ameche to Play Role of D'Artagnan in Fox Version of 'Three Musketeers' Of Local Origin". New York Times. Sep 6, 1938. p. 17.
  7. ^ DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL (Apr 20, 1939). "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Negotiations Under Way for Purchase of Film Rights to Dreiser's 'Sister Carrie' 'DARK VICTORY' WILL OPEN Premiere Today for Picture in Which Bette Davis and George Brent Are Stars Of Local Origin". New York Times. p. 21.
  8. ^ Vagg, Stephen (January 29, 2020). "Why Stars Stop Being Stars: Margaret Lockwood". Filmink.
  9. ^ Frank Daugherty Special to The (Sep 22, 1939). "Frank Lloyd Sets Off On New Voyage: Hollywood Letter Two Technical Experts Builds Own Ship". Christian Science Monitor. p. 10.
  10. ^ DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL (Sep 10, 1939). "PRODUCERS GIRD FOR WAR: The Cinema Capital Contemplates Its Probable Effects Upon the Industry". New York Times. p. X3.
  11. ^ Bawden, James; Miller, Ron (4 March 2016). Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era. University Press of Kentucky. p. 101. ISBN 9780813167121.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 June 2023, at 20:24
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