Ferry to Hong Kong

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Ferry to Hong Kong
"Ferry to Hong Kong".jpg
Original UK quad by Brian Bysouth
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by George Maynard
Starring Curt Jürgens
Orson Welles
Sylvia Syms
Jeremy Spenser
Music by Kenneth V. Jones
Cinematography Otto Heller
Edited by Peter R. Hunt
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
Running time
112 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £500,000[1]

Ferry to Hong Kong is a 1959 British melodrama/adventure film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Curt Jürgens, Sylvia Syms, Orson Welles and Jeremy Spenser.[2]


Mark Conrad, a debonair Anglo-Austrian former playboy and junk owner, now an alcoholic down-and-out, is expelled from Hong Kong. He is placed on an ancient ferry boat, the Fa Tsan (known to its crew as the Fat Annie), despite the protests of the pompous owner, Captain Cecil Hart.

He travels to Macau, but is refused entry for the same reason he was expelled from Hong Kong. He engages the captain in a card game and wins the right to 'live' on board. His charming manner endears him to the crew and to an attractive teacher Liz Ferrers, a regular passenger.

The ferry is nearly wrecked in a typhoon, but Conrad wrests command from the cowardly and drunken captain and saves the ship. Drifting out of control near the Chinese coast, they are boarded by pirates, led by Chinese-American Johnny Sing-up. Sing-up reveals that Hart is a former conman who won the ship in a crooked card-game.

Conrad becomes a hero when he saves the ship, and is allowed to stay in Hong Kong. He is tempted to continue his budding relationship with Liz, but decides to resist it until he has 'beaten the dragon'.



The film was one of a number of movies made by Rank to appeal to the international market, involving colour and location filming.[1] Rank had rationalised its film production arm, decreasing overall output but putting more money in a certain number of films. Rank chairman John Davis said, "It is vital that the greatest possible financial encouragement should be given to the making of important films: for these the public will gladly pay.The emphasis will be on the more expensive and important film."[3]

The film was to originally star Burl Ives and contract star Peter Finch.[4] However this soon became Curt Jurgens and Orson Welles.[5] The movie had one of the largest budgets in the history of Rank.[6]

Lewis Gilbert described Ferry to Hong Kong as "my nightmare film". Orson Welles, he said, "never cared about his fellow actors, never cared about the director". Gilbert says "everything was wrong with the film - principally Orson Welles".[7]

Welles and Jurgens hated each other and Gilbert had trouble filming them in the same shot.[1]


The film received rave reviews in the UK and was a massive hit at the box office.[1][6]

The Los Angeles Times called it "a very funny comedy-drama".[8]


  1. ^ a b c d British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference by Sue Harper, Vincent Porter Oxford University Press, 2003 p 54-55
  2. ^ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/33054
  3. ^ BRITISH DOSSIER: Rank Theatre Chain, Production List Reduced -- Outlet -- Other Items By STEPHEN WATTSLONDON.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Oct 1958: X7.
  4. ^ Burl Ives Signed for British Film: TV Grabs Unreleased Movie; Rodolfo Hoyos Saves 'Villa!!' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Sep 1958: B7.
  5. ^ Film Plays and Players The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 20 Sep 1958: 11.
  6. ^ a b AMERICANS IN ACTION ON BRITAIN'S FILM FRONT: Shooting 'Suddenly' -- New Departure For Miss Dandridge -- Other Items By STEPHEN WATTSLONDON.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 July 1959: X5.
  7. ^ Lewis Gilbert's comments were made in an interview on the BBC Radio 4 programme "Desert Island Discs" transmitted on 25 June 2010.
  8. ^ Sophia Loren Cavorts as 'The Millionairess': SOPHIA Stinson, Charles. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 Mar 1961: B10

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