Film & TV

noimage Milestones (1916)
A film version of Bennet & Knoblauch’s play. Silent.

Thomas Bentley (dir.), Samuelson Film Manufacturing Company
road to france The Road to France (1918)
Silent propaganda film about America’s shipbuilding contribution to the First World War:

This big picture will make you glad you are an American. It shows how American vim and vigor won out in the big fight. It is vibrant with victory. A tense love story is also told in The Road to France. The love story moves swiftly and the whole production is of a nature calculated to make everyone even more glad to be an American and to be aiding in the business of making the world safe for democracy.

Scores of American ships on the ways
New launchings everyday
More tonnage for shipment of men and supplies to Frnace
See American shipyards in full blast
See a great freighter launched
See E. N Hurley, Chairman of United States Shiipping Board in actual speaking.

Dell Henderson (dir.), World Film
noimage Life’s Greatest Problem (1919)
Two penniless loafers, Big Steve and Lofty, boast that they have never done a day’s work, yet are “as happy as hell, and want to stay that way.” With America’s entry into the war their life is suddenly changed. They are drafted into a shipbuilding yard, where Big Steve’s inherent qualities of head and heart earn him respect and promotion. Working under him as a laborer is the shipbuilder’s slacker son, who is finding redemption in work for an ignoble past. He becomes a strong man and thwarts a Bolshevist plot to destroy the shipyards. Steve finds that real work not only pays, but leads to social preferment and happiness.

J. Stuart Black (dir.), Blackton Productions Inc.
noimage Milestones (1920)
A shorter remake of the 1916 film. Silent.

Paul Scardon (dir.), Goldwyn Pictures Corporation
cup of fury The Cup of Fury (1920)
A film version of Rupert Hughes 1919 novel. Silent.

T.Hayes Hunter (dir.), Eminent Authors Pictures Inc.
stranger’s banquet The Stranger’s Banquet (1922)
An adaptation of Donn Byrne’s 1919 novel. Silent.

Marshall Neilan (dir.), Marshall Neilan Productions
red ensign Go Get ‘Em Hutch (1922)
Hutch McClelland, owner of McClelland Shipping Industries, forms a partnership with Dariel Bainbridge, who has inherited her father’s shipbuilding business. Hilton Lennox and Fay Vallon are unscrupulous plotters who aim to prevent Hutch from getting his ships out to sea. The opening chapter shows a launch ceremony. Hutch is seen as a shipbuilder and takes many hazardous chances with death. He is disguised as a yard hand while learning the business from the ground up. Pathé ‘made the workings of an industry an integral part of the plot’.

George Seitz (dir.), Pathé
red ensign The Three Passions (1928)
A shipyard tycoon, Lord Bellamont (Shayle Gardner), who worked his way up from the factory floor is ‘England’s richest man’. He is devoted to his son Philip and wants to pass the yard on to him. There is an accident and a worker dies. The son blames himself as he had paid no heed to the workers’ demands for better working conditions. He leaves, finds God and works in a seamen’s mission. The father sends his son’s former fiancé to the mission to win him back. She is nearly raped by a seaman but is rescued by Philip. He returns to the shipyard to save it from striking workers and to take it over from his dying father. Later reworked as a novel by the screenwriter Cosmo Hamilton.

Rex Ingram (dir.), St. Georges Productions
red ensign Rich Man’s Folly (1931)
Brock Trumbull is the egomaniac owner of Trumbull & Son shipyard. He is desperate to pass on his yard to a son to preserve the family tradition. He ignores his daughter Ann. His wife finally produces a son, but she dies in childbirth and the son is sick and weakly. As a young boy he is forced to christen a ship in the pouring rain, becomes sick and dies. Trumbull goes into decline leaving the running of the shipyard to his managers, but when he returns he finds it nearly bankrupt. He enters a wager with the rival shipyard of Joe Warren – the first to build a ship will get the next four in a contract with the Black Funnel Line and secure the yard’s future. Ann tries to gain her father’s affection but is pushed away and she marries Joe Warren. On the anniversary of his son’s death he overhears Ann and realises his folly. He sabotages the ship in his own yard to ensure that Joe and Ann’s future is secure. A re-working of Dickens’ Dombey & Son.

John Cromwell (dir.), Paramount Productions
red ensign The Red Ensign (1934)
A young shipbuilder is determined to see his yard survive despite the dirty tricks of a ship owner who could see better profits in building ships abroad and operating them under a foreign flag. The determination of the shipbuilder and his workforce to work together, once the espionage and lies of the ship owner had been revealed, make a none too subtle political point.

Michael Powell (dir.), Gaumont-British Picture Corporation
Shipyard Sally Shipyard Sally (1939)
Gracie Fields quite literally makes a song and dance about the depression. She plays the daughter of a Clydebank barman who goes to London to fight the cause of the unemployed workers. The message of the film was that if workers and bosses worked together they would see things through.

Monty Banks (dir.), Twentieth Century Fox
Hull of a Mess Hull of a Mess (1942)
Popeye and Bluto compete against each other to build a ship. Popeye finishes first but Bluto gives him a champagne bottle filled with nitroglycerine for the launch and the ship is blown up. Bluto launches his ship, but Popeye then takes his spinach, fixes his own ship and then builds several more. Hurray for Popeye!

I. Sparber (dir.), Famous Studios
The Shipbuilders The Shipbuilders (1943)
A wartime propaganda version of George Blake’s The Shipbuilders, starring Clive Brook, which transformed the resolutely depressing novel by tacking on a happy ending.

John Baxter (dir.), British National Films
Good Luck, Mr Yates Good Luck, Mr Yates (1943)
A teacher at a military school tries to enlist, but has a perforated ear-drum. He gets a job in a shipyard instead, but pretends to folks back home that he is in the army. Meanwhile he falls in love with a female welder. His lie is discovered, but he proves himself a hero in a shipyard fire and gets his girl. The message is that working in the shipyards is just as patriotic as enlisting in the army.

Ray Enright (dir.), Columbia Pictures Corporation
Shipyard Symphony Shipyard Symphony (1943)
Cartoon showing the building of a warship.

Eddie Donnelly (dir.), Terrytoons
The Silver Fleet The Silver Fleet (1943)
Jaap van Leyden (Ralph Richardson) manages a Dutch shipyard building two submarines when the Nazis invade. He agrees to collaborate but secretly embarks on sabotage, evoking the spirit of Piet Hein, the Dutch naval hero who captured the Spanish silver fleet. He arranges for the first submarine to be taken over by shipyard workers during trials and it escapes to England. With heightened security only he is allowed on the trials of the second boat. He sacrifices his life to blow up this submarine.

Vernon Sewell & Gordon Wellesley (dirs), The Archers (Powell & Pressburger)
Man from Frisco The Man from Frisco (1944)
Wartime propaganda loosely based on Henry Kaiser. The hero has a wonderful idea for prefabricating ships and who runs into stuffy obstructors when he tries to set up yards on the West Coast.
‘Some of the shipyard scenes are vibrant, and the documentation of building is good. But you can’t expect much from a picture that is so obviously propped up on clichés.’ New York Times, 16 June 1944.

Robert Florey (dir.), Republic Pictures
Secret Command Secret Command (1944)
Wartime propaganda. Sam Gallagher is a Naval Intelligence agent who is sent to intercept a planned Nazi sabotage of an important West Coast American shipyard. He is undercover as shipyard worker with a wife and two children. His brother shows up and becomes suspicious, nearly blowing his cover. It ends in a big fight as Sam uncovers the saboteurs. Based on the short story Saboteurs by John and Ward Hawkins. Won an Oscar for special effects.
‘It is fair to say that the performances are not shaded with nuances. Mr. O’Brien’s first venture as a producer is as subtle as a right to the jaw.’ The Screen, 14 June 1944

A Edward Sutherland (dir.), Torneen Productions
Meet the People Meet the People (1944)
Lucille Ball falls in love with a wartime shipbuilder who has written a play featuring his fellow shipyard workers who were working for the war effort. She likes the play and tries to make a glamourized version of it. He complains that it isn’t real enough and stops the production. She goes back to the shipyard to plead with him and gets to learn the real nature of the American working man. In the end she puts on the play inside the shipyard.

Charles Reisner (dir.), Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Meet the People A Sporting Chance (1945)
When a shipbuilding magnate dies his spoiled daughter learns that she can only inherit the family fortune if she can work incognito in the yard for a year. She gets a job as a welder. Comedy.

George Blair (dir.), Republic Pictures
Floodtide Floodtide (1949)
A highly romanticised film starring Gordon Jackson as a young naval architect who falls in love with the shipyard owner’s daughter. Screenplay by George Blake.

Frederick Wilson (dir.), General Films
Bolshaya Semya Bolshaya Semya (A Big Family) (1954)
A film version of Vsevolod Kochetov’s 1953 novel The Zhurbins about a family of shipbuilders. A love story about a young ship-welder, set against the modernisation of a Soviet shipyard. Won the Collective Acting prize at Cannes 1955.

Iosif Kheifits (dir.). Lenfilm Studio
Jacqueline Jacqueline (1956)
Mike McNeil is a farm labourer attracted to work in the Belfast shipyards. High up on the staging he suffers from attacks of vertigo. He then takes to drink to cope with his fear, much to the despair of his wife and family. His daughter Jacqueline stands by him and forces the shipyard manager to give him a chance. Based on Catherine Cookson’s 1954 novel A Grand Man, originally set on Tyneside.

Roy Ward Baker (dir.), The Rank Organisation Film Productions Ltd
Seawards the Great Ships Seawards the Great Ships (1960)
This documentary film remains the most remarkable evocation of shipbuilding that one is ever likely to see. It captured Clyde shipbuilding at the height of its confidence. The treatment by John Grierson, the music, the cinematography, the script by Cliff Hanley, and the shipbuilders themselves, all combine to create an intensely moving experience. It won an Oscar in 1961 for best Live Action Short Film.

Hilary Harris (dir.), Templar Film Studios
In the Shipyard In the Shipyard (1975)
In the first years of the 1970s, Lei Haisheng, a technician in the Grand River Shipyard, puts forward a proposal to produce a large ship in the shipyard. His proposal is highly praised by the Communist Committee and strongly supported by the working class. Dong Yiwen, a secret agent ,becomes the leader of the Technology Department, and he takes advantage of President Zhao Ping’s conservative and conventional ideology, to ruin the production project. During the conflict between Lei and Dong, Lei Haisheng discloses the crimes of Dong, and Lei makes Zhao Ping aware of his mistakes which admit afterwards. Finally, the first large ship is produced successfully in the shipyard.

Fu Chaowu (dir.)
The Happy Bachelors The Happy Bachelors (1983)
A woman starts work in a shipyard and a group of young bachelors fight for her attention. It paints a portrait of the happy lives of shipyard workers in 1980s China. It presents the image of happy, well-fed, enthusiastic workers who enjoy their life due to the benefits of secure employment.

Song Chong (dir.), Shanghai Film Studio
Down Where the Buffalo Go Down Where the Buffalo Go (1988)
TV film written by Peter McDougall. Set in Greenock, it follows the fracturing marriage between a US navy officer and local girl. His brother-in-law works in the shipyard and they form a bond to help each other out. Some good scenes set in the last days of Scott Lithgow.
McDougall’s Just a Boy’s Game (1979) also features a shipyard worker in Greenock, but only one short section takes place in the yard. McDougal said: ‘it’s only three year oot o’ a life that I’ve led… if I write a cowboy movie its still set when I was 16 and in that shipyard. The characters, the way they grimace, the way they dae this, the patter that ye bastardize into the American patois… it all still comes frae that’. (Razor Sharp: The Story of Peter McDougall, DVD, 2007).

BBC Scotland
noimage A Night on the Tyne (1989)
A BBC2 ScreenPlay written by Bill Gallagher. Maurice, Willy, Dudley and Rick turn up for their night shift at a shipyard on the eve of a launch. When they find out they are to be made redundant they decide to launch the ship they have been working on as a protest.
Broadcast 12 July 1989.

BBC2 England
River City River CIty (2002 – )
A soap opera set in an old shipbuilding community on Clydeside. It features a boatyard, one of the original main characters was an ex-shipyard worker and the first episode quoted from Jimmy Reid’s famous UCS speech. It soon moved away from shipbuilding references to more traditional soap opera concerns.

Scottish Television
Sea of Ambition Sea of Ambition (2008)
Hyun-min lost his father at sea when he was a young boy and ever since that loss, he vowed to build safe and reliable boats. But his dreams of designing ships and living happily with the woman he loved were taken away from him. He rebounds from these huge setbacks and the drama follows his life as he sets out to become a tycoon in the shipbuilding industry.
A remake of the 1980s hit show Terminal Point.

Korean TV, 24 episodes
Titanic Blood & Steel Titanic Blood and Steel (2012)
The construction of Titanic at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast is set against the background of union riots, political and religious conflicts, and a romance between a young ambitious engineer and an Italian immigrant. Inaccurate romanticism riding on the back of the Titanic centenary commemorations.

Ciarán Donnelly (dir.), De Angelis Group, 12 episodes
May Queen May Queen (2012)
A South Korean TV drama about three people who experience ambition, revenge, betrayal and love, against the backdrop of the shipbuilding industry in Ulsan during Korea’s modernization.

Baek Ho-min (dir.), Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, 38 episodes
May Queen Assembly (2015)
A South Korean political drama about a laid-off welder and union activist who chooses to become a National Assemblyman on the government party side, betraying the wishes of his colleagues.

Hwang In-hyuk (dir.), KBS2, 20 episodes