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LEWIS GILBERT'S 'FERRY TO HONG KONG' WITH ORSON WELLES

Closeup of the dragon around the disc menu for FERRY TO HONG KONG Year: 1959
FERRY TO HONG KONG could have made a great pilot for a TV series: The premise has maverick loafer Mark Conrad, played by Curt Jurgens, winding up on a Ferry from Hong Kong to Macao. Officials at either port won’t let him on land so he has to remain a passenger on the Ferry. The not-so-accidental, omnipresent tourist.

Now for the antagonist: Orson Welles as Captain Hart, an uptight, prissy, anal retentive, control freak Captain who runs the boat with a iron fist despite his passive/aggressive composure...
Orson Welles and Sylvia Syms takes a stroll in FERRY TO HONG KONG
In another film with an Asian title, his own classic jigsaw Film Noir THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI, the Irish accent sounds decent while here he seems looped by a British actor doing an imitation of an uptight character meant to be despised, or worse yet, irritating...

You'll think it impossible for this to be the same man who played the mesmerizing heavy in TOUCH OF EVIL the previous year, or at twenty-five played a man of all ages in CITIZEN KANE...
Great Oriental screen credits for FERRY TO HONG KONG Rates: ***
The good news is, there's an "excuse" for this embarrassing performance: Unlike the rest of the cast, Welles, at odds with Curt Jergens on set, decided to play the adventure/drama on paper like a madcap comedy to the camera...

This bit of trivia makes it a much easier pill to swallow... Then again, pretending or not, like all great actors, eventually a human form does takes shape. Jurgen's affable Conrad and Welle's practically heartless Hart couldn’t be more different, and, as life imitates art (or vice versa), much of the film has the duo at bickering odds, at sea and on land...
Sylvia Syms in FERRY TO HONG KONG
And not to forget the lovely love interest – Sylvia Syms's Liz is beautiful albeit far too young for the overweight Jurgens. She's a missionary with a bevy of orphans, and can’t help but love the grungy loner who, like all scruffy anti-heroes, deep down has a heart of gold...

Jurgens makes for a semi-decent lead... although he always seems more a villain, like he was in this film's director Lewis Gilbert's classic James Bond outing THE SPY WHO LOVED ME... and there are moments when Welles comes alive from his keystone banality, mostly pushed by Conrad, who has to eventually take over when an emergency occurs: at this point, a true antagonist was needed, desperately.
Orson Welles and the lovely Sylvia Syms in FERRY TO HONG KONG
The Asian locations are beautiful and best yet, completely genuine, and Gilbert's picturesque, travelogue direction flows nicely enough to wile the time away...

And despite a clunky script, not sure whether to be a comedy, romance, drama or adventure, by the end you’ll want to spend more time aboard, feeling that, for better or worse, you really know these people within a cozy enough boat to be stuck without a paddle.
British Poster artwork for FERRY TO HONG KONG included Cinemascope and Eastman Colour bragging
Curt Jergens takes a free ride in FERRY TO HONG KONG
Curt Jurgens watched by Orson Welles in FERRY TO HONG KONG
Orson Welles and Curt Jurgens in FERRY TO HONG KONG
Orson Welles and Curt Jurgens in FERRY TO HONG KONG
Main title card bookmarked by Asian writing for FERRY TO HONG KONG
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