Martha (1967)

  • Year: 1967
  • Released: 10 Oct 1967
  • Country: Denmark, Greece
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  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Danish
  • MPA Rating: N/A
  • Genre: Comedy, Family
  • Runtime: 93 min
  • Writer: Henning Bahs, Preben Kaas, Erik Balling
  • Director: Erik Balling
  • Cast: Poul Reichhardt, Poul Bundgaard, Morten Grunwald
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Martha Storyline

A great cult comedy that was probably ahead of its time. A beloved movie among danish sailors. Martha is a very old and very rusty freight steamer, sailing in the Mediterranean, almost forgotten by the danish shipping line. The crew takes advantage of this, leading a very comfortable and luxurious life on board. Not without financial problems though. One day the ships owner suddenly needs to sail on her. He is a very old school and disciplined person and certainly not satisfied with the state of the ship and the crew. But the crew shows their worth when they have to fight for the survival of their beloved old steamer.—Peter Rasmussen

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Martha Movie Reviews

Cult movie, indeed

As previous commentators have so rightfully pointed out, Martha is the true cult-movie of the merchant marine… but not only in Denmark. It has had – and still has – a tremendous impact in Sweden as well, with Martha-societies arranging Martha-evenings (complete with a showing of the film itself and a nice dinner with nothing missing except perhaps the Brottsjösill. The (Swedish, in fact) traditional Aquavit brand O P Andersson tend to be available in abundance, though. Among the seafarers in Sweden, Martha has been known since the early 70:s, and more or less illegal thirdhand VHS-copies was distributed widely along with the first-hand movies and VHS-tapes. Recently, a DVD-version – with new and (hopefully) improved Swedish translation – is available with some extra goodies. Sadly, the translation from Danish to Swedish is somewhat lacking in accuracy, at least on the VHS-copy I’ve seen. The Danish phrase which means “steady she goes!” is translated into the Swedish equivalent of “She sails beautifully!” which is a shame, really. I’ve learned that Martha is shown to students as well, which is very good indeed.

I cannot give praise enough to this film. For many seafarers, it is THE movie, strangely accurately showing the seamen’s life of bygone days – albeit with a humorous twist or two – better than any serious-faced documentary.

excellent film

This as an excellent film. In this film you see Ove Sprogøe, Poul Bundgaard and Morten Grundwald together for the first time. Later on the three of them would go on to create the biggest success ever in danish movie-history: “Olsen-banden”. The scenes where the dead-drunk danish sailors return to the ship and find their boss there are excellent.

Wonderful cartoon-ish comedy about lovable unreliable slobs

Martha is probably the best, the funniest, and most lovable comedy ever to come out of Denmark. At the time of its release it was a financial flop, but time has made it a classic. Many lovers of old classic danish comedies consider Martha to be the finest of its kind. Even for people who have seen it numerous times, little fine details can still be found. The team is excellent, the cast counts the most loved danish actors of that era, and Balling shows why is by many considered to be the master of popular comedy.

It should be noted though, that while the finished screenplay was written by director Erik Balling and production designer Henning Bahs in collaboration, the original story was conceived by Bahs and the actor Preben Kaas, who plays the cookie on board the ship.

This is stated in the credits on the home video/DVD cassette.