Reel American HistoryHistory on trial Main Page

AboutFilmsFor StudentsFor TeachersBibliographyResources

Films >> Plymouth Adventure (1952) >>

0:01:50 Settlers at the wharf at Southampton getting ready to depart
Officers of the Crown are checking the passenger list and cargo of the Mayflower, searching for Elder William Brewster. The Pilgrim fathers answer roll call but do not identify their spouses by their Christian names.  Mary Brewster tells the officer she does not know where her husband is.  William Bradford says he is presumed dead.
0:04:10 Gilbert Winslow, narrator and diarist of the story
Winslow is an impoverished tutor who finds the officer's reward of five crowns for information leading to Brewster tempting.  Winslow wants to see what the New World holds. (0.04.50 "These are the years of wonder on earth when a young man may go beyond the world's rim and see marvels--if he can keep his feet dry.")  He tells a curious carpenter (John Alden) about the financing of the voyage:  Thomas Weston, representing the Virginia Company, has paid for passage and provisions; the investors expect their money back with a profit; the settlers will labor for five days of every week for seven years in the New World; for the other two days they can work for themselves.  They are to harvest crops, trap furs, and dry fish.  Alden notes that in a country as rich as the New World, two days should be enough.
0:06:16 Captain Jones appears
Captain Jones, a middle-aged man with a weather-beaten face in a blue jacket and cap, watches the Pilgrims board and notices Dorothy Bradford in particular; he stares at her lewdly.  Then he snarls at Master's Mate Coppin to keep the Pilgrims out of his way.
0:07:52 Weston bribes Captain Jones to cheat the Pilgrims in financial deal
In a private meeting in a tavern, Weston tells Jones he wants Jones to take the settlers to the New England Company settlement which is 100 miles north of the Virginia Company settlement.  (The Pilgrims had contracted with the Virginia Company.)  Weston pays Jones 100 pounds with a promise of an additional 100 pounds upon his return to England; nothing is recorded in writing.  Jones notes that Coppin will also have to be told (and paid hush money).
0:11:47 Alden joins the group; Speedwell is unseaworthy
Alden is hired as a barrel and cask maker on shipboard and to build houses in the New World.  He hears the sailors discussing the poor condition of the Speedwell.  Alden gets into a fight with Coppin about whom Alden must obey.  Alden falls in love with Priscilla Mullins at first sight.  Winslow notes that the Pilgrims had slept in soft beds in clean rooms in their own homes and wonders what drives them.
0:16:58 On board the Mayflower
Alden discovers Brewster hiding in the hold; Alden recognizes that Brewster has a forbidden book with him, The People's Plea for a Free Church.  Brewster remarks that Alden will not turn him in to the authorities because they are both on a pilgrimage.
0:18:40 Miles Standish meets John Alden
Standish has been hired to teach the settlers to use firearms.
0:19:05 The meeting to discuss the contract
Weston's deceit is revealed as he reads the terms of the contract to the Pilgrims.  In protest, Bradford tells the group not to sign because the contract says they must work not five, but seven days a week and everything produced, grown, or built in the new colony belongs to the company.  In addition, after seven years the company can possess everything.  Weston tears up the contract and leaves.
0:21:20 Captain Jones sees Weston's strategy
Jones tells Coppin:  "Weston has suddenly made the terms too difficult for the settlers to accept.  In the name of the company he represents, he forces a quarrel upon them and he tears up the tie between them.  Now there is no contract and no obligation on either side.  So now I can land them in the wrong place.  The New England Company has never been able to gather enough settlers to make a permanent colony on Cape Cod.  It is bankrupt. Without notifying his employers as to his activities, Weston will (secretly) buy up the New England Company which will prosper.  Weston will become rich at the expense of his former employer, the Virginia Company."  The settlers decide to sail without Weston's help.
0:23:54 The night before departure
Dorothy Bradford watches from the ship as a drunken Jones arrives after a tryst with a tavern maid.  As Jones goes by Dorothy, he grabs her and makes lewd advances.  Her husband grapples with Jones and rescues Dorothy, but he gains the hatred of Jones.
0:27:29 Departure of the Mayflower and the Speedwell
On August 6, 1620, the two ships set sail.  The passengers are sent below deck as the crew unfurls the canvases.
0:31:05 At sea
Winslow says he can distinguish the religious dissenters from those going for trade or adventure: "Perhaps it is the cleanliness which they have made a part of their religion--and  they are somewhat tiresome about it.  They have invented a saying:  Cleanliness is next to Godliness."  Also on board are farmers, weavers, and tradesmen with the wisdom to see ahead the opportunities of a new world.  In addition there are a number of homeless orphans (street waifs) cast aboard by the Lord Mayor of London.  They mingle with the children of the Pilgrims and their servants, such as twelve-year-old William Butten who wants to be the first to see the new land.
0:32:53 Brewster makes his appearance
Brewster (his pseudonym is John Williamson) comes on deck and speaks to Bradford.  Alden helps with the subterfuge as Jones walks by.  Alden and Priscilla are attracted to each other.
0:34:00 Return to England
The Speedwell is unseaworthy.  Jones makes it plain that he, not Bradford, is in charge of the Mayflower and will make any decisions about returning to England.  The Speedwell was to stay with the Pilgrims for one year in the New World, but her captain overloaded the ship.  Jones warns the settlers that he will not leave the Mayflower in the harbor when they reach land.  They have lost many weeks, and the delay will bring them into the season of storms at sea.  Jones knows Brewster is on board and tells the Pilgrim leaders that Brewster will be used as a hostage to make the Pilgrims toe the line.
0:42:18 Second departure for the New World
The Speedwell passengers join the Mayflower group.  Winslow gives Jones a new list of passengers; a total of 102 people are on board (50 men, 20 women and 32 children).
0:42:37 Shortage of water
Priscilla dips up sea water for bathing, but Alden tells her it is too salty.  The drinking water supply is short as there has been no rain for eight days.  Alden gets her some water from the drinking supply.  They see the printing press Brewster used to print forbidden books, which Priscilla calls "the books that made us exiles."  Women bathe with drinking water, and Dorothy throws a bucket of used water overboard.  Coppin grabs her and hauls her off to face Jones in his cabin.
0:47:50 Jones propositions Dorothy Bradford
Jones says he could punish her for using drinking water against orders.  He propositions her:  water for sexual favors.  She tells him to toss her to the fishes now and complains about the behavior of the seamen.  He warns her what being at sea does to people--they behave like cats and dogs.  He says they might as well enjoy each other.  She calls him "a foul man."  When Bradford hears about the incident, he chides Dorothy for her behavior.
0:50:30 Learning to use firearms
Miles Standish attempts to show the Pilgrims how to use a musket.  They are hopelessly inept and hard to teach.  The lesson provides a bit of comedy, especially when a charge of powder blows up in Standish's face.
0:53:40 Tales of the New World
A storyteller describes a previous trip he made to the New World, and the natives he brought back with him.  His tale of rough storms on the voyage are a portent of future problems for the Pilgrims.
0:55:15 Winter arrives at sea
Autumn cold arrives; Alden and Priscilla turn to each other for comfort.  William Butten is sick with lung fever.
0:55:53 Heavy storm buffets the Mayflower
The crew battens the hatches and takes down the sails.  Below deck the Pilgrims are cold, wet, and frightened as the wind howls and the ship leaks.  Bradford goes up on deck to rescue a boy who is reported missing and he (Bradford) is swept overboard.  Jones risks his life to pull Bradford from the water and sends him below with an oath.  The settlers and their belongings roll around as the ship lists from side to side.  A large wave hits the ship broadside, and one of the main beams cracks.   Alden uses the printing press as a wedge to fix the beam.
1:04:45 Aftermath of the storm
Cold, dampness, and injuries from the storm plague the Pilgrims, and an outbreak of fever ensues.  Dorothy approaches Jones to thank him for saving her husband's life.  He rebukes her and she leaves.
1:05:55 Despair
The journey grows long and tedious.  A son is born to Stephen Hopkins and his wife; he is named Oceanus.  By October 7 firewood is growing short; October 10: there is scanty food and the settlers are cold; October 12: mothers are weak but children are sturdy (mothers are giving their allotment of food to their children.)  Coppin is caught stealing food at night; he and Alden get into a fight; Jones breaks it up.  October 29: ship is traveling slower since the beam was broken.  The short rations and the scant supply of water has the crew on edge; the sailors blame the settlers for the delays which have created this problem.
1:09:58 Scurvy in both the settlers and the crew rears its ugly head
November 4:  Jones has given up hope; a very odd man, he is up late most nights.  Dorothy visits him on deck; he accuses her of hoping to tantalize him, which is what "good women like her feed on."  She tells him she has figured him out: despair that a dream is about to perish short of fulfillment; that this beauty is about to be lost.
1:14:05 At sea 64 days
Sea is getting warmer and wind is calm.  A dead bird is found on deck.  William Butten holds the bird in his hand as he dies.  Jones reads a committal of burial at sea.
1:16:37 Land is sighted
A humbled Jones exchanges glances with Dorothy. The Pilgrims sing Psalm 100 in thankfulness that the voyage is over. The settlers learn they are in Cape Cod, not Virginia; Coppin overhears their conversation and reports to Jones.
1:19:32 Confrontation with Jones
The Pilgrim leaders come to see Jones. He advises them that Cape Cod is a good place to settle and then threatens to turn Brewster in if they give him any trouble.  He will stand by until they explore the harbor, then he is leaving.  Bradford informs him they have already decided to settle here.
1:21:20 Bradford shows some fighting spirit
Bradford tells Jones the settlers are not as docile as he thinks.
1:23:05 Dissent among the settlers
The settlers argue about property due them.  Bradford tells them they need to stick together.  Jones is listening to the conversation.
1:25:05 Signing the Mayflower Compact
The list of signers includes the whole group: Bradford and the other leaders; hired men like Alden, grateful for the privilege of signing. Some are bondslaves, some cannot write, but they make their mark with earnest pride.
1:26:36 The Mayflower in the harbor at New Plymouth
Bradford and a handful of men set out to explore the area around the harbor; they carry mirrors and beads to trade with the Indians. The settlers left behind on the ship fear they may never see these men again.
1:27:07 Bradford expresses his love for Dorothy
He tells her this is a new world and a new beginning and what happened before will be forgotten and forgiven.  She has filled his life with sweetness.
1:29:01 Dorothy learns Captain Jones is planning to return to England
1:32:45 The explorers return
Bradford tells the settlers what the explorers found: good rich soil, a sheltered harbor with a large rock rising from the water, lumber, game--a New Plymouth.  He learns that Dorothy has drowned.  Bradford believes she could not have broken God's commandment by committing suicide.  Brewster says she fell overboard.
1:35:26 The crew threatens mutiny
Coppin approaches Jones about leaving.  Jones thrashes Coppin, and the crew backs down.  Jones is beginning to see the settlers have a sense of peace which he lacks.
1:37:04 Planting the first crops
April 4 - the winter is over and nature is blooming.  Of the 102 settlers who landed, 56 remain; six died in December; eight in January; seventeen in February; and fifteen in March from a combination of scurvy and lung fever.  The Pilgrims find the Indians gentle, poor, and hungry like the settlers.  Jones has kept the Mayflower standing by for winter shelter.
1:38:20 Farewell to Captain Jones
The Pilgrims give Jones a scroll inscribed with the names of all the settlers.  Jones offers to take anyone back to England who wishes to go.  He bids them good fortune and thanks them for what they have taught him.
1:40:30 The last meeting between William Bradford and Captain Jones
Jones tells Bradford that Dorothy never betrayed him.  He says Dorothy loved him (Bradford) in a way she never loved Jones; Jones does not understand this kind of love.
1:41:26 Captain Jones ready to depart
Brewster comes to the shore to say farewell.  No one joins Jones as he departs on his voyage back to England.  Jones orders a salute to be fired for the living and the dead as he leaves the harbor.