The Ghost Ship

Young merchant marine officer Tom Merriam encounters a blind man begging for spare change in the first scene of 1943 psychological thriller The Ghost Ship, who correctly guesses that he’s a sailor outward bound, and an officer to boot. He further predicts that The Altair is a bad ship, but Merriam doesn’t believe him, saying “You’ve got a blind man’s tricks for telling what men are like, but you can’t tell about ships.”

Another character with a disability is introduced with the rest of the crew; Finn, who is unable to speak or read. A voiceover indicates he’s got a significant inner monologue going, however, and that internal monologue implies he’s also got powers of prognostication. Such magical abilities were often foisted upon fictional characters with disabilities in films of that day and age.

A series of preventable accidents and a grandiose speech or two about authority convinces Merriam that the captain is going insane, though he’s at first unable to convince the rest of the crew. (The captain even turns down a romantic attachment with his newly-divorced longtime ladyfriend, saying he isn’t sure he’s entirely sane, though he doesn’t seek professional help or tell anyone else of his fears.)

Captain Stone starts having either intrusive thoughts or auditory hallucinations, as evidenced by a voiceover of his own. Finn clashes with him in a knife fight, where his muteness heightens the dramatic tension. The blind man is revisited in the final scene, and his eerily accurate predictions about Merriam turn out to be the same lines he gives every sailor to impress them into giving him their pocket change.


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