» » The Man Without a Country (1973)

The Man Without a Country (1973) HD online

The Man Without a Country (1973) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama
Original Title: The Man Without a Country
Director: Delbert Mann
Writers: Sidney Carroll,Edward Everett Hale
Released: 1973
Duration: 1h 18min
Video type: Movie
At his court martial for conspiring to attack and annex Mexico with Aaron Burr, young Army officer Philip Nolan angrily blurts out that he wishes to never again hear of the United States. The tribunal, shocked by his outburst, sentences him to exile, permanently sailing the high seas on Navy ships, never to set foot on American soil again, with orders to all crew members that he is never to see or hear anything about his erstwhile homeland. As the decades pass, Nolan earns the friendship and respect of many crewmen, including proving himself an able warrior during one ferocious sea battle. He becomes a hungry scholar of languages and natural sciences gleaned from foreign books and comes to regret his views, causing his shipboard comrades to beseech Washington for leniency and forgiveness for the repentant man, now America's most ardent admirer.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Cliff Robertson Cliff Robertson - Philip Nolan
Beau Bridges Beau Bridges - Frederick Ingham
Peter Strauss Peter Strauss - Arthur Danforth
Robert Ryan Robert Ryan - Lt. Cmdr. Vaughan
Walter Abel Walter Abel - Col. A.B. Morgan
Geoffrey Holder Geoffrey Holder - Slave on ship
Shepperd Strudwick Shepperd Strudwick - Secretary of the Navy
John Cullum John Cullum - Aaron Burr
Patricia Elliott Patricia Elliott - Mrs. Graff
Alexander Clark Alexander Clark - Capt. Minton
Guy Spaull Guy Spaull - Capt. Pendleton
Peter Coffield Peter Coffield - Lt. Vinson
Addison Powell Addison Powell - Chief Justice Marshall
Geddeth Smith Geddeth Smith - Lt. Philips
Laurence Guittard Laurence Guittard - Lt. Pritchard

Portions of this picture were filmed on board the wooden tall ship H.M.S Rose, a replica of a British 28 gun frigit built in 1759 and scuttled in Savanah Harbor during the American Revolution. The replica ship would later be rebuilt and renamed H.M.S. Surprise for for the Hollywood movie "Master and Commander"

Reviews: [5]

  • avatar


    In 1863 Abraham Lincoln was plagued by a growing peace movement led by political opponents who said the war was a failure, and we should recognize the Confedrate States under Jefferson Davis. The leading spokesperson for "Copperheads" was one Clement Vallandigham, an Ohio Congressman who was a gifted public orator. Vallandigham was giving anti-Union speeches in Ohio. Lincoln did not know what do to shut up this dangerous radical. And then Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, commander of the Department of the Ohio, stepped in.

    Burnside had his flaws - his list of disasters on the battlefield included his "masterpiece" at Fredericksburg, Va. But he was a real patriot, and hearing Vallandigham's speeches got the better of him. He arrested the Congressman for treason. Lincoln now had a potential time bomb - if he put Vallandigham on trial and he was convicted, the Copperhead would become a martyr. If he put Vallandigham on trial, and he was acquitted it would be worse.

    Vallandigham made comments in his speeches about how sick he was about living in the North as it was, and how he hated being a present day citizen of the U.S.A. Suddenly Lincoln got an idea. Smiling, he sent Burnside an order that as Clement Vallandigham had openly said he hated being a citizen of the U.S.A., his wish should be granted. Smiling in his turn, Amborse Burnside arranged (as Lincoln ordered) for Vallandigham to be taken by a heavy guard to the border of Ohio and Ontario, and sent across the border into the British Colony (Canada was still British North America in 1863). Vallandigham lived in Toronto (a center of Canadian secret activity during the war) until late 1864, when he returned to the North in disguise. Once he revealed himself publicly again, nobody bothered him.

    Edward Everett Hale was a prominent magazine writer of the period. Today THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY is his acknowledged masterpiece, but he also wrote THE BRICK MOON, an early science fiction novella about an artificial satellite that may have influenced Jules Verne's novel THE BEGUM'S FORTUNE.* Hale wrote THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY in response to the Vallandigham business, setting it back two generations to the controversy about Aaron Burr's Western "Empire" schemes. But this book was like Tom Paine's COMMON SENSE - a small book that hit the public at just the right moment in a war (Elbert Hubbard's A MESSAGE TO GARCIA is another example of this) and swept the country, ending up a permanent piece of American literature.

    (*If you check this web site under the proper names, you will find that Edward Everett Hale did his little bit to assist American film comedy: he is the grand father and namesake of that terrific comic character actor Edward Everett Horton.)

    Lt. Philip Nolan is an ambitious naval officer in the early American navy of the John Adams and Thomas Jefferson era (1798 - 1807). He is sent to a western outpost in Louisiana, and is bored there. When Burr shows up he gets heavily involved in Burr's schemes. When Burr falls, Nolan is arrested and tried for treason. In a moment of anger, Nolan makes the mistake of shouting in court that he wishes he never heard the name of the United States of America again. The court-martial board are shocked by this statement. After getting proper instructions from President Jefferson (like Burnside would from Lincoln in 1863) they agree to Nolan's request. He is put on one American frigate after another for the rest of his life. While on board the ship takes down it's American flags. Nobody is to mention the U.S.A. or news from the states in his presence.

    For the next half-century Nolan is treated like this. He actually turns out to be far more aware of his idiotic comment than anyone realizes (at a dance he is pointedly reminded about it by a pretty American socialite he meets). He even assists in winning a battle in the War of 1812 against the enemy British ship. But the decision of the court is upheld until he dies. Yet, at the tale's end, it turns out that Nolan did learn what happened, and even knew of most of the new states in the union. The narrator (as Nolan is dying) tells him the history of the U.S. since 1807. Except for one point: he can't bring himself to reveal that in 1863 there is a Civil War going on, and that half the states no longer want to be part of the U.S.A. Still Nolan dies happy, having been reassured of his nations' expansion and seeming prosperity.

    This 1973 version was quite good, with Cliff Robinson as Nolan, developing from a "Hotspur" young man into a maturer type who gradually realizes what a stupid wish he voiced. Robinson was a bit too old to be the young Philip Nolan, but he handled the later years all right. Beau Bridges is the narrator, who crosses Nolan's path in his own naval career. Robert Ryan, in one of his last performances, plays the wise older officer who fills in some of Nolan's history to Bridges, and explains why the Navy Department just doesn't stop the long exile: "Have you ever tried to fight the white tape of Washington City?", Ryan says with a friendly smile to Bridges. Twenty years later, when running across Nolan again, Bridges remembers Ryan's statement again. Quite different from Ryan's other nautical figure from this period: Claggart in BILLY BUDD.

    A worthy, and moving version of the great novella - it reached Hale's goal very well.
  • avatar


    After 27 years, Robertson's portrayal of Nolan, the man who wishes never to see or hear of his country again, still smoulders in the memory. The closing scenes are heart-rending to anyone who has ever felt more than the slightest stir of patriotic sentiment or homesickness for a distant country. This is a classic version of a classic American story, in which a "merciful" sentence proves to be more diabolical and Draconian than poor Nolan could have ever imagined. Before there was Kafka or Orwell, there was "The Man Without a Country."
  • avatar


    "A Man Without a Country" is an exceptional piece of film work considering it was made for television. Normally, you'd expect less...and I was thrilled when I watched this again, as I only saw it when it originally aired and I was quite young at the time.

    The story is fictional but the way it's constructed you might think it's a true story. Philip Nolan (Cliff Robertson) spends his life aboard US Navy ships but never gets to see the United States itself. So, when the ship approaches the American coast, he's transferred to another ship. Why such a bizarre existence? It seems that when he was young, he was involved with a treasonous plot involving Aaron Burr. When he was brought up on charges since he was in the US Navy, instead of taking his punishment he was very mouthy at the hearing and said, in essence, he never wanted to see the USA again. So, a bizarre punishment was meted out...and thus he spent the rest of his life on the seas...never seeing his home. But he manages to change a lot over the years and becomes a valuable crew member during the War of 1812....and comes to love and appreciate America. Can a young officer on a crusade manage to get a pardon for poor Nolan?

    This featured so much to love--an excellent cast (Cliff Robertson, Beau Bridges, Peter Strauss, Robert Ryan and Walter Abel), a sad and interesting story and lovely production values. Although this is a bit cerebral and many kids and action film fans won't like it, I think it's one of the better made for TV films of the era.
  • avatar


    This relatively short film(78) is based upon a popular short story written by Edward Everett Hale, about a purely fictional young army officer, Philip Nolan, caught up in Aaron Burr's vague conspiracy to carve an empire out of portions of the southern US and Mexico. In his court marshal, he was actually condemned mostly by his statement that he damned the US, and hoped never to hear that name mentioned again.

    He was banished from US soil forever, as a prisoner of the US Navy, with instructions never to mention anything about the US or read anything relating to the US, for life. He was moved from ship to ship, never allowed to see a US harbor. He was allowed to occasionally go ashore in foreign ports, as an example, in Naples, with an escort. In an incident in the War of 1812, despite no naval training, Nolan took command of a ship during a fight with a British ship, after all the naval officers had been killed or incapacitated. He turned the tide and disabled the enemy ship. Sometimes, he served as interpreter, having studied various languages before or during his captivity. As an old man, lay dying, one officer took pity on him, and told him about some developments in the US over the past 50 or so years. However, he didn't let on that the US was currently involved in a sectional life and death struggle. He always thought of himself as a great patriot of the US, not as a traitor. Nonetheless, he requested to be buried at sea, since the oceans had been his home for most of his life.

    Think of this film as a solemn historical biography, though it isn't. It's pace is slow and rather tedious. If you can't put up with that, better skip this film.

    Mr. Hale was stimulated to write this serialized magazine short story by the historical example of Clement Vallandigham: leader of the copperhead political movement, devoted to suing for peace with the Confederacy, whether by conciliation, or by granting the Confederacy the status as a nation. Vallandigham also advocated retention of the slave status of African Americans, the constitutional right for states to secede, and low tariffs: all policies the Confederacy supported. Yet, strangely, when he was sentenced to be banished to the Confederacy, he asked to be considered a prisoner of war, as he was an involuntary resident of the Confederacy, and still considered himself a citizen of Ohio. With neither the Union nor the Confederacy wanting him, he was shipped to Canada, where he spent about a year before sneaking back into the US. Lincoln chose to ignore his return to the US. Thus, his punishment was much milder than that of Nolan.
  • avatar


    Cliff Robertson as Philip Nolan in a tidy moral tale about an army officer who damns his country in the early 1800s and is condemned to spend the rest of his life aboard Navy vessels whose crews are ordered never to speak to him about the United States. And that's exactly what happens. As thirty or forty years pass, moving from ship to ship, he never sets foot on land and no one mentions his country to him. His books and newspapers have all references to America cut out of them. He can infer that the union is expanding by counting the increase in the number of stars on the flag -- and that's it.

    He's treated politely enough by captains like Robert Ryan, and he has close friends and admirers like Beau Bridges and Peter Strauss, whom he meets as Midshipmen and crosses paths with over the course of the years. He recovers from his youthful pique and begins to love and miss his country again. And he becomes a scholar, reading book after book and collecting biological specimens. Bridges, now a captain himself, does everything he can in Washington to have Robertson pardoned, even going as high as the Secretary of the Navy, with no results. Eventually, of course, as many years pass, he becomes ancient and dies. Before he does, Peter Strauss, now skipper of his own ship, spills the beans about the United States and tells he dying old man everything that's happened in the last fifty years. Nolan is buried at sea and a small monument is placed at his last Army post.

    It's a paeon to patriotism, spelled out clearly and with just enough detail in this story. It isn't just a solemn tale of getting your head straight. Robertson's ship engages a British warship during the war of 1812 (and wins the battle, due largely to Robertson's commanding the guns on one of the decks). They intercept and board a slave ship. That is to say, there is some action. It isn't merely that Robertson sits around moping all day.

    He handles the part quite well, a strange eventful history, from fiery young rebel, through young adulthood and middle age, through lean and slippered gray-haired Pantaloon, and finally that touching deathbed scene, not overplayed. It's a demanding part, nicely done, and he gets good support from Bridges and Strauss. The dialog suggests the period -- from around 1805 to the middle of the Civil War. The lines are a little formal and often avoid contractions. "I'll" becomes "I will," and "don't" becomes "I do not." I never quite understood some aspects of American history. The somewhat reckless westward expansion, the Monroe Doctrine, the disappearance of entire Indian tribes like the Mandan. But all of this fits into the story, if it's mentioned at all, harmlessly. Well done.