Created by MGM for American President Lines, “Departure” shows the round-the-world cruise of the SS President Wilson from San Francisco to the Orient and Europe in the late 1940s. A few other ships that were part of American President Lines (APL) are briefly shown as well. The SS President Cleveland and SS President Wilson were shining symbols of post war American technology, design and style, with streamline moderne styling.
After leaving San Francisco, at 8:00, the ship arrives in Honolulu, and there is footage of surfing, leis, Waikiki Beach, and more. At 9 minutes, the ship arrives in Japan, with images including modern Tokyo and ancient temples. At 11:00, scenes of Hong Kong are shown, with American President Lines offices shown. At 12:20, Manila is shown in the Philippines. The war memorial is shown at 13 minutes. Singapore is seen at 13:00. Rubber tree plantations are seen at 14 minutes. At 14:59, Bangkok, Thailand is seen. At 15:30, Bombay India is shown as well as the Taj Mahal. At 16:30, Cairo Egypt is seen. The film then shifts to continental Europe, with images of Italy and Pompeii at 17:00, Rome, Venice, Paris at 19:00, and then a cruise homeward at 19:00 with a farewell party thrown.
The film features some photography by Alfred T. Palmer, a famous cameraman and still photographer who worked extensively with the Dollar Steamship Lines.
SS President Wilson was an American passenger ship originally ordered by the Maritime Commission (MC hull 687) during World War II, as one of the Admiral W. S. Benson-class Type P2-SE2-R1 transport ships. The ship was laid down on 27 November 1944 and was launched on 24 November 1947, completed and delivered to the Maritime Commission on 27 April 1948. Under the name SS President Wilson, she was bareboat chartered by the Maritime Commission to American President Lines. She was eventually sold to Oceanic Cruise Development, Inc. in 1973, and renamed Oriental Empress. The ship was eventually scrapped in 1984
American President Lines restarted its round-the-world passenger service shortly after the end of WWII, and launched the SS President Cleveland and SS President Wilson in 1946, which were advertised as “your American hotel abroad.” In the 1950s, the company again expanded, building more ships; 11 were built between 1952 and 1954. These included C-4 class cargo ships. Also, a settlement was finally reached in the Dollar case. Rather than the Dollar family taking back the company, it was sold to a group of investors led by Ralph K. Davies for .3 million. At this time Davies also acquired control of American Mail Line with the aim of reintegrating it into APL.
The increasing use of air travel meant that the company’s passenger services had steadily been declining throughout the 1960s, and by 1973, the last APL liner, the SS President Wilson, completed her final round-the-world trip and was sold off.
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This film is part of the Periscope Film LLC archive, one of the largest historic military, transportation, and aviation stock footage collections in the USA. Entirely film backed, this material is available for licensing in 24p HD, 2k and 4k. For more information visit //www.PeriscopeFilm.com