It is not surprising that all the characters in Plymouth Adventure spend a great deal of time impressing people with who they are. Van Johnson, in particular, greets everyone with a hearty handshake and an introduction: "I'm John, John Alden." Neither is it surprising that all the Pilgrims show a superhuman piety and fearlessness, that they are all cultured and very proper, acting more like their descendants than the hardy tinkers and tailors they were. For the producers of this movie were obviously concerned lest they shatter any primary school images. So they have handled the Pilgrims carefully. The only boorish character on Mayflower is the only non-Pilgrim, the captain (Spencer Tracy), who strides across his poop deck, cursing love and friendship in exaggerated tones, and carrying the whole burden of godlessness, until the others finally remake him into a good man.
Plymouth Adventure, based on an imaginative, fictional account of the Mayflower voyage, tacks on to history an affair between Dorothy Bradford (Gene Tierney) and the skipper. But the movie dehydrates the romance into one embrace, and then forces Mrs. Bradford into a quick suicide. Besides this, the screenplay only diverges from the accepted in its characterization of the captain, a figure not discussed in any of the records.
For the most part, however, the film is dull, idealized history, stolidly performed. It should be valuable only to slow fifth graders who need their American history acted out for them.