The Mystery of the Mary Celeste (partially lost original version of British mystery film; 1935)

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Mary celeste.jpg

The poster for the film under its original title.

Status: Partially Lost

The Mystery of the Mary Celeste is a 1935 British mystery film, based on the real-life mystery of the merchant ship of the same name whose crew completely vanished without a trace. The film itself is a fictionalized account framing the event as a murder mystery. It was notable for being one of the earliest films made by Hammer Film Productions, and for starring Bela Lugosi, making it his only collaboration with the studio.

When the film was distributed in the United States, it was shortened from the original 80-minute run-time to 62 minutes and re-titled Phantom Ship. This is the version of the film that currently survives.


Captain Briggs (Arthur Margetson) and Captain Morehead (Clifford McLaglen) are two friends in love with the same woman, Sarah (Shirley Grey). When both men propose to her the same day, Sarah chooses Briggs. Sarah and Briggs open their marriage plans to Morehead and he gets furious with jealousy. He's also made with Briggs for going behind his back. But Briggs tells him that he will marry Sarah even if that means the end of their friendship. As the couple plans to sail, the husband - Briggs is short on crew. He asks Morehead to forgive him and help. Morehead agrees and sends a man, Volkerk Grot (Herbert Cameron), not to help, but to do something to the ship. Briggs also recruits some other men, including Anton Lorenzen (Béla Lugosi) who is a sailor who has suffered a lot and is about to break down. As the sail begins, the crew realizes that there is a murderer among them who is killing them off one by one.


The "Phantom Ship" cut of the film, the only surviving version.
Poster for the film's U.S. release.