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Erich von Stroheim
Reporter Joe Miller is sure that fisherman Eli Kirk smuggles illegal Chinese immigrants into the country, but can't obtain enough evidence to satisfy his editor. Chance plays into his hands in the lovely form of Kirk's daughter, Julie, whom he catches swimming in the nude and pumps for information. But she's fiercely loyal to her dad, and may be too attractive for Joe's own good. Racy pre-Code sexual situations. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The composition "I Cover the Waterfront" became a popular jazz standard, in both vocal and instrumental versions, and was performed and recorded by many bands and vocalists from the 1930s through the 1990s. Originally, the book the movie was based on inspired the tune; it was not written for the movie. However, the movie was re-scored just before its release to include the tune as an instrumental. Among those who have recorded the tune are Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald. See more »
The news items about a woman giving birth in a water taxi, and the Empress of Britain docking that Joe reports over the telephone to the reporter at the news desk, had already appeared in print under his byline in the newspaper shown in the preceding sequence. See more »
[on the phone]
Hello, Thelma, this is Miller. No, I don't want the desk. I want to talk to Phelps.
See more »
The presence of luminous Claudette Colbert lifts this standard and somewhat dreary effort to an entirely different level. Her shocking entrance has her buck-naked after skinny-dipping in the ocean, where Ben Lyon holds her bathing suit hostage as Claudette hides behind a boulder. She demands to know how he found her in this remote beach. He tells her that a neighbor with a telescope objected to her nudity. "It must have been a woman," replies Claudette. "Yes," answers Lyon, "no man would object."
Obviously, Claudette Colbert appears at the pinnacle of her legendary beauty, with her distinctive wide cheekbones complemented by her enormous eyes. Her wardrobe here is cheap yet sexy, often in tight sweaters, and her slim form cuts a glorious figure across the screen. She's cute in the best sense, never self-conscious or cloying, and it's easy to see why she'd take the nation by storm the following year in "It Happened One Night" and "Cleopatra." It's a joy to even watch her make toast in an adorable bit of business when she catchs an errant glob of jelly from dropping onto the table. One of the sweetest ad-libs I've ever noticed, done with humor and style.
The movie itself offers other enjoyments too. Like the gnarled Ernest Torrance as Claudette's sea-salty father, who smuggles illegal Chinese immigrants into port -- sometimes inside the bellies of sharks! Naturalistic undertones abound when the viewer goes aboard this captain's ship, where it's an unfortunate incident when a Chinese man is chained and thrown overboard when the Coast Guard is spotted nearby. "He knew he was takin' a risk," is how the Captain justifies his actions.
All-in-all a worthwhile effort, this movie has much to recommend it, although it is somewhat marred by annoying Ben Lyon as the lead. If another actor had essayed that role, perhaps Clark Gable or Spencer Tracy, the entire movie could have been lifted to greatness.
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