The Sea Chase, Los Angeles, 1955 Film Plans and Storyboards

Farrow, John (dir.); Bechelin, Franz (art dir.). The Sea Chase. Los Angeles, 1955. Original artwork and storyboards; two volumes (binders). Blue cloth over boards (295 x 250 mm), 3-ring binders, containing original pen and ink and pencil drawings on onion skin paper, plus photographs and notes for the film. One binder contains the original bold, tense drawings — beautifully carried out — breaking the film down into a compelling graphic novel, marking out long shots, choreographing fight sequences, and more. The second binder contains b/w photographs of locations (silver gelatin prints, about 8 x 10 inches, many stamped “Return to Research Department, Warner Bros.” on the verso), plus set maps and lay-outs (some in facsimile, many of them folding), newspaper clippings, and even more sketches. Sold with a nice collection of original storyboards (20 x 15 inches, on heavy stock): 6 show 16 scenes, rendered in b/w pen and ink, with typed notes and dialogue carefully tipped beneath each panel, plus the occasional handwritten notation; 23 offer anywhere from 1 to 4 scenes, carried out in pencil, ink and full-color gouache, rich with handwritten marginalia (plus 2 more storyboards in the same vein, but not colored). These are more dramatically rendered, with panels (scenes) occasionally exploding into one another, or a pencil sketch showing a scene in stages, with the final rendered with the post polish. Many are even quite lovely, showing the ship at sea, or an iceberg in a storm. The entire collection is in excellent condition, some marginal rubbing or (where the onionskin paper is concerned) some very light chipping; the occasional finger-smudge; but overall nice and clean. An interesting look at the filmmaking process, and aesthetically pleasing. Displays nicely.

Directed by John Farrow, with art direction by Franz Bachelin, “The Sea Chase” is a WWII seafaring adventure. Fiercely nationalistic, but vehemently anti-Nazi, German sea captain Karl Erlich ( John Wayne) mans the helm of a decrepit freighter pursued by the British navy — and as if being tailed by a warship weren’t enough, violent storms, shark attacks, short supplies and a mutinous crew all conspire to prevent the skipper from reaching his homeland. Lana Turner co-stars as a beautiful German spy. Taking in a range from Sydney, Australia, to the sub-antarctic Auckland Islands, the fictional HMS Rockhampton is played by HMCS New Glasgow, a River class frigate built in Canada as a wartime emergency anti-submarine escort. This class has a classic wartime outline, similar to the Black Swan and Grimsby class sloops operated by the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy in 1939.

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