november 15

Wayback Wednesday: Mary Celeste 1872

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Mary Celeste Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
1861 Painting – Unknown Artist
Names: Amazon (1861-1868) Canadian
Mary Celeste (1869-1885) American

[Note: The finding of the abandoned Mary Celeste is sometimes listed as December 5, 1872. This is due to time differences between “Civil Time” (land time) and “Sea Time”.]

A merchant brigantine, the Mary Celeste was built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia and launched under British registration as Amazon in 1861. She was transferred to American ownership and registration in 1868 when she acquired her new name. Thereafter, she sailed, uneventfully, until her 1872 voyage.

[She was] discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands on December 4, 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a disheveled but seaworthy condition under partial sail and with her lifeboat missing. The last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier.

She left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and [the] Dei Gratia departed for Gibraltar on November 15, following the same general route eight days [later]. [She] was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of denatured alcohol was intact and, the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever heard from again.

Ghost Ship Image Two
Image Credit: gutenberg.org

At the salvage hearings in Gibraltar following her recovery, the court’s officers considered various possibilities of foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia crew or others and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud. No convincing evidence supported these theories but, unresolved suspicions led to a relatively low salvage award.

The inconclusive nature of the hearings fostered continued speculation as to the nature of the mystery and, the story has repeatedly been complicated by false detail and fantasy. Hypotheses that have been advanced include the effects on the crew of alcohol fumes rising from the cargo, submarine earthquakes (seaquakes), waterspouts, attack by a giant squid and paranormal intervention. The story of her 1872 abandonment has been recounted and dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films and, the name of the ship has become a byword for unexplained desertion.

In 1885, her captain deliberately wrecked her off the coast of Haiti as part of an attempted insurance fraud.

[Source]

[Were] it not for Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, struggling to establish himself as a writer prior to creating Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the world would not have ever known or cared [about the ship]. Conan Doyle’s short story about the ‘Marie Celeste‘ (he changed the name from Mary) turned a minor puzzle into one of the most famous legends of the sea. Nevertheless, we should recognise it was fiction, for which his editor paid 30 Pounds, […] a respectable sum in 1884.

[Source]

Speculations of Cause
Myths
Pop Culture & Legacy
The Mary Celeste Site (Fact, not Fiction)
Smithsonian Article (November 2007)

Smithsonian Documentary Clip

 

Interesting Documentary

Flick Friday: Love Me Tender 1956

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Love Me Tender Image
Image Credit: imdb.com

I usually do movie posts in five year increments but, this one kinda fell in my lap. Sixty-three years ago, today, Elvis Presley made his acting debut in the film Love Me Tender. Directed by Robert D. Webb, it was originally titled The Reno Brothers and was based on a story written by Maurice Geraghty. When Presley’s single Love Me Tender passed one million copies, a first for a single, the title to the film was changed. This was the only movie in which Presley played an historical figure and the only movie in which he did not receive top billing.

With Robert Buckner as screenwriter and produced by David Wiesbart, it starred Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Elvis, Robert Middleton, William Campbell, Neville Brand and Mildred Dunnock.

Elvis plays Clint Reno, one of the Reno Brothers who stayed home while his brother went to fight in the Civil War for the Confederate army. When his brother Vance comes back from the war, he finds that his old girlfriend Cathy has married Clint. The family has to struggle to reach stability with this issue. Vance is involved in a train robbery, while a Confederate soldier, of Federal Government money. There is a conflict of interest, when Vance tries to return the money, against the wishes of some of his fellow Confederates.

[Source]

Trivia Bits:
♦ Originally, this movie had no singing in it. Songs were added to cash in on Elvis Presley’s stardom.
Priscilla Presley reportedly copied Debra Paget’s unique hairstyle from this film to attract Elvis in 1959.
♦ According to Penny Stallings‘ “Flesh and Fantasy”, Presley developed a crush on co-star Debra Paget, which went unreciprocated because she was seeing Howard Hughes at the time.
♦ When the film played in theaters, Elvis Presley’s fans were screaming so loud that audiences couldn’t hear any of his lines.

Trailer


 

The Actual Movie