Philip Wells and his wife Helen argue a lot about the attention that Philip thinks Helen and his best friend, Dave Burton, are giving each other, but they all sail off together on Philips yacht, until "Gorilla"Larsen and his motley crew show up, scuttle the yacht, and marital-strife is no longer the issue of the day. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
exciting 30's poverty row combination of domestic melodrama and nautical adventure
I hadn't watched GORILLA SHIP for over a decade when I dug it out and re-watched it this weekend, and it's a nice little poverty row feature that surely kept the depression-era b-movie audience entertained. The film opens with about 12 minutes of domestic drama between husband Wheeler Oakman (veteran Western heavy and pimp in some exploitation classics), wife Vera Reynolds (star of many silent features, she starred in indie films of the early sound era and retired from the screen after making one more film for director Frank Strayer, TANGLED DESTINIES, which I've reviewed on the IMDb), and friend of the family Reed Howes (dashing lead of many silent light-action films and early-sound poverty row features, and then a reliable character actor for decades--singled out for praise in Ed Wood's book Hollywood RAT RACE as a true professional). Then we are introduced to the seedy ship of Captain "Gorilla" Larsen, played by actor-director Ralph Ince (brother of Thomas Ince), who plays the role like Sterling Hayden after a long and brutal weekend. The two stories come together in a surprising way, and then we find out that the Captain is not unknown to one of the three characters from the mainland. What happens after that is not entirely expected, and the film contains many clever touches. The always reliable George Chesebro takes a break from Western badguy roles to play the first mate, and he's as ornery as ever. Howes has a charming screen presence and also a certain "aw-shucks" quality that reminds me, say, James Garner. If Ben Affleck is able to mature over the years and acquire a certain gravitas in his screen persona, he could one day resemble Reed Howes. Overall, a fine way to kill an hour, and a reminder of how many great little b-movies were made on poverty row in the early 1930's. With cast and crew recruited from the late silent period, films such as GORILLA SHIP still can entertain and excite audiences 75 years after they were made.
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