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A yachting party of rich socialites sailing from Shanghai falls into the hand of a mutineering crew, and are subsequently at the mercy of the merciless whims of a half-mad ship's steward who has gained control of the water supply. That is with the exception of Lady Daley who is quite indifferent to the whole affair. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
In far eastern Shanghai, wealthy westerners enjoy singing and dancing to the hit song "Singin' in the Rain" (a contemporary hit then, memorably revived for MGM's 1952 musical). Among the party-goers, American playboy Conrad Nagel (as Howard Vazey) romances British socialite Kay Johnson (as Dorothy Daley). With three other upper-class passengers, they get on board a yacht bound for San Francisco. Brutish and angry steward Louis Wolheim (as Ted) is on "The Ship from Shanghai" and, as you quickly know, he hates snooty rich people with a passion. "Willowy English girls, fair and pink" arouse Mr. Wolheim, who plans to take over the ship and abduct Ms. Johnson...
Making his "all-talking" feature debut, director Charles Brabin is clearly getting his feet wet under the new microphones. He is unable to lead an interesting cast to good, consistent performances. New to motion pictures, Johnson comes across best; she had just co-starred with Mr. Nagel in Cecil B. DeMille's "Dynamite" (1929). Watching Nagel's career falter is sad; he was an engaging and popular actor. "Silent" film stars Carmel Myers and Holmes Herbert (as Viola and Paul Thorpe) attend to the secondary roles, with veteran stage actress Zeffie Tilbury on board as an old society lady. Some of the acting works better with the sound turned down, but some is just overwrought, period.
**** The Ship from Shanghai (1/31/30) Charles Brabin ~ Louis Wolheim, Kay Johnson, Conrad Nagel, Carmel Myers
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