Well-to-do, Harvard-educated Richard Henry Dana went to sea for his health, and his experiences as a common sailor determined him to 'redress the grievances and sufferings of that class of beings with whom my lot had so long been cast'. This he attempted to do in Two Years Before the Mast, published way back in 1840. Farrow, an authentic sea-dog himself, directs this adaptation (with Donlevy as Dana) as a labour of love. Despite its Mutiny on the Bounty overtones, and the latent sensationalism of flogging scenes, the film is most impressive for its sobriety, and the way Farrow gets an ensemble-type feel from a cast as disparate as he has here. There are no star turns or glamorous set pieces, no sea battles and very little 'action' as such, but it's an engrossing mix of formula/genre/humanism.