Rulers of the Sea (1939) - Rotten Tomatoes

Rulers of the Sea (1939)

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Movie Info

In the 1830s, despite the development of the steamboat at the outset of the 19th century, all trans-Atlantic travel was still done by sailing ships. David Gillespie (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) is first mate on one of the fastest of such ships, commanded by Captain Oliver (George Bancroft), but he is sickened and wary of the loss of life of sailing men caused by the limitations of sail. He meets John Shaw (Will Fyffe), a Liverpool-based machinist who insists that he has a design for an engine and a ship that will allow safe trans-Atlantic travel by steam power, and the two go into partnership -- but Gillespie must contend with the resistance of Shaw's headstrong and skeptical daughter, Mary (Margaret Lockwood), as well as the resistance of bankers and other shipbuilders to the new ideas he represents. All of this pleases Mary, who, despite her love of her father and attraction to Gillespie, regards herself as practical-minded and wants her father safely back working for his old employer on a steady salary, instead of pursuing what she regards as impossible goals. Gillespie gets the backing and Shaw builds his engine, but his ship is burned in an accidental fire, and all looks lost until a sympathetic backer proposes fitting the engine to an existing vessel, and suddenly Shaw is a real threat to the shipping establishment. They try to stop him in the courts, and when that fails, the race is on from Liverpool to New York, between Shaw's steam-powered ship and Gillespie's sail-driven former ship, with Mary aboard to look out for her father and Gillespie, and the future of ocean travel in the balance.

Cast

Will Fyffe
as John Shaw
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
as David 'Davie' Gillespie
George Bancroft
as Capt. Oliver
Montagu Love
as Malcolm Grant
Vaughan Glaser
as Junius Smith
David Torrence
as Donald Fenton
Lester Matthews
as Lt. Cmdr. Roberts
Alan Ladd
as Colin Farrell
David Clyde
as 2nd Mate Evans
Lionel Pape
as First Secretary
Mike Driscoll
as Helmsman
Mary Gordon
as Mrs. Ogilvie
Ivan Simpson
as Second Secretary
Denis D'Auburn
as 1st Officer Lewis
Olaf Hytten
as Secretary
David Dunbar
as Boatswain
Wilson Benge
as Campbell
John Power
as 'Dog Star' Captain
Earl Askam
as Chief Engineer
Napier Raikes
as High Commissioner
Lawrence Grant
as Mr. Negley
Jane Dewey
as Mrs. Farrell
Clare Verdera
as Mrs. Naughton
Neil Fitzgerald
as Dr. Taylor
Alec Craig
as Foreman MacNeil
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