Alan Ladd – Botany Bay

When it comes to Film Stars then there aren’t many who could rival this man who  fits the title Movie Star  perfectly.     Alan Ladd was a major film star throughout the forties and the fifties – indeed it is early in the 50s that he had , maybe, his greatest role in the Western ‘Shane’ – one that will certainly be featured on this Blog in the future.

This film Botany Bay was made some time after  Shane but was released around the same time but it  did not have the budget it deserved possibly because Alan Ladd’s contract at Paramount was coming to an end – something that quite honestly amazes me because Shane had been such a massive Box Office hit grossing some $20 million dollars.   Normally Hollywood would hold on to a star of such financial clout. That does baffle me as I say –  but it does seem that Alan and his agent wife Sue Carol made a decision to move to Warner Brothers – and I think that was the real point here.


Having said that Botany Bay is not a bad film and it certainly did give American audiences some idea about the founding of Australia as a haven for convict prisoners.

Alan Ladd is Keel-Hauled AND Flogged by sadistic captain James Mason – See Below.

Among the prisoners of a convict ship heading for Botany Bay in 1787  is Hugh Tallant (Alan Ladd) an American Medical Student wrongly convicted of being a highwayman.His repeated efforts to escape arouse the hosility of Captain Gilbert (James Mason).  On the long voyage brutal treatment is meted out to many of the prisoners and Alan Ladd is lashed and keel-hauled but survives.     An attractive girl on board Sally Monroe (Patricia Medina) takes the eye of the captain and also Tallant.

On their arrival in Australia the Governor Cedric Hardwicke sympathises with Hugh Tallant.     Captain Gilbert tries to trick and frame him though but an attack by aborigines sees the violent end of the Captain.  There then follows an outbreak of the plague which Tallant copes well with earning a pardon and leaving him free to live happily ever after with Patricia Medina.

Patricia Medina is the  lovely girl that Alan  Ladd wins in the end.

There were some brilliant studio sets including this one  above – the very last shot of the film (showing a Happy Ending )

James Mason talked about the film much later in 1974 and said of Alan Ladd:

‘Having been fascinated by the Alan Ladd phenomenon, I had now the opportunity to study it at close quarters. It turned out that he had the exquisite coordination and rythm of an athlete and it was interesting to watch him play out his scenes’

Not a bad film  but not the greatest of send offs for one of Paramount’s biggest stars.


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