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 »
Although some aspects of the film don't quite work, "I Cover the Waterfront" is a pretty good atmospheric drama with some good moments. The setting works very well for a story of suspense and crime, and the good story mostly makes up for the less impressive elements of the movie.
Joe Miller (Ben Lyon) is reporter assigned to find interesting stories along the waterfront. His obsession is to prove that ship captain Eli Kirk is involved in a smuggling operation with an occasional murder thrown in. When Miller has a chance meeting with Kirk's charming daughter Julie (Claudette Colbert), he seizes the opportunity to get information about her father. He quickly becomes enamored of Julie, and find himself with conflicting loyalties. Some of the story that follows is predictable, but there are some moments of tension and some good scenes.
The waterfront setting is done nicely, and it makes a good background to the events in the plot. It also includes an exciting and realistic shark-fishing scene. On the other hand, there are some features that are less effective or even a bit dated: for example, the very callous attitudes of all of the characters towards Chinese immigrants, and Miller's irritating sidekick, who is supposed to provide comic relief by his habitual drunkenness, but who is really just an annoyance that contributes nothing whatsoever to the plot.
Overall, this is an interesting film despite a few flaws, and it is worth watching for anyone who likes films of the era.
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