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TUGBOAT ANNIE, the `old sea cow,' pilots her beloved
Narcissus around Puget Sound, constantly on the lookout
the shenanigans of her drunken husband. Their son strives
become the skipper of a great liner, but his success will
his father's life & break his mother's heart...
Marie Dressler & Wallace Beery are nothing short of wonderful in this funny, touching film. The roles are a comfortable fit - they wear them like old clothes. With their life-worn faces & rumpled bodies, they embody a decent commonality which gives their acting the little something extra that pushes it over the top and makes their performances very special.
Dressler was queen of the box office when she made this film, absolutely beloved by millions of American movie fans. Almost a force of nature, a cinematic Earth Mother, she was already carrying the cancer which would kill her the very next year. Beery would go on to other memorable roles, but his teamings with Dressler would always remain unique.
Robert Young & Maureen O'Sullivan nicely play the young people, but they are completely overshadowed by the two old pros.
Location settings help the movie's ambiance terrifically. The film is based on stories written by Norman Reilly Raine and published in the Saturday Evening Post.
Tugboat Annie reunited Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler for a second
time after the big hit they made with Min And Bill. Although that first
film was more dramatic and Dressler got her Best Actress Award for Min
And Bill, Tugboat Annie still has a lot of laughs and heart in it as
Marie Dressler cares for her husband, child, and business which is
running a salvage tug out of Puget Sound.
Marie of course is in the title role and she skippers the USS Narcissus and works in a man's world. She lives on the tug with her husband and child Frankie Darro who grows up to be Robert Young. Beery is her shiftless drunken husband, but she's determined to raise their son to make something of himself.
Flashing forward several years, Robert Young is now captain of an ocean liner and working for a former rival of Dressler's, Tammany Young who has worked his way up from the salvage business. Young is engaged to Tammany's daughter Maureen O'Sullivan, but he's not that crazy of his parents stepping into society, Marie doesn't fit and she knows it, and Beery is just Beery.
Who periodically goes off on a toot and always lets his family down. However in the end during a crisis on the Narcissus, Beery does come through. It's why she loves and puts up with him.
MGM put a little money into Tugboat Annie doing a whole lot of location shooting in Puget Sound. I don't know whether the cast got up there or their footage was done on the sound stage, but it certainly was blended in nicely with background shots.
In real life Beery and Dressler hardly got along, then again Wallace Beery got along with very few people in the world. Still their on screen chemistry is not to be denied in Tugboat Annie which holds up every bit as good for today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Marie Dressler gives a fine, sensitive and very touching performance in this second and last pairing with Wallace Beery. The movie was one of the top moneymakers of the depression era, and beloved by the public as well as the critics. Based on the Saturday Evening Post stories about a very capable female tugboat captain and her alcoholic but lovable husband.The plot has the couple's son ( Robert Young ) ashamed of his drunken father, and Annie trying to make a living and trying to keep up a good family appearance for the sake of her son. Wallace Beery settles into his role perfectly, but Marie Dressler's acting is absolutely darling as she is forever exasperated by her drunken husbands embarrassing antics. Wallace Beery tried teaming with actress Marjorie Main in an attempt to recapture the chemistry he'd had with Dressler, but it was not a successful pairing. No one could ever compare to the unique Marie Dressler.Tugboat Annie is an enjoyable example of this beloved actress at her best.
The only film adaption ever done of the Saturday Evening Post "Tugboat Annie" stories. interesting depictions of the eating area, and engine room with its old triple expansion engine. the "Narcissus", was played by the real tugboat "Arthur Foss" which is preserved as a maritime museum after 101 years of work.
This is one of the few movies I've seen with Marie Dressler, and the only talkie I've yet seen of hers. This was her second teaming with Wallace Beery. He's her often-drunk husband who co-captains the sea ship Narcissus. Robert Young is their now-grown son and Maureen O'Sullivan is his fiancé. There are both some funny scenes and some more dramatic moments. There's no music score as this was an early talkie so sometimes, one may feel bored with some of the silences. The film meanders quite a bit though since the running time is less than 90 minutes, it doesn't wear out its welcome by much. Ms. Dressler would die about a year after this movie, but it's obvious by her performance she's not that easy to forget. So on that note, I recommend Tugboat Annie.
I thought Marie Dressler was great and died too soon, and that's the
main reason for my rating on "Tugboat Annie". She carries the picture
and was better than she was in "Min and Bill", the one she won an AA
for three years before. The narrative here is more a series of
vignettes on the life of a tugboat skipper, strung together and
concerning the same group of people. The plot seems disjointed and each
episode is an end in itself.
What is really annoying is the presence, or rather the character played by Wallace Beery. He was adept at playing a big slob but he overdoes it in 'Tugboat Annie", so much so that you wish he would get washed overboard or that she would leave him ashore, preferably on foreign soil. There is no way anyone could put up with incompetence and irresponsibility of this kind. He plays an unabashed drunk who nearly ruins her financially, and the ending barely justifies his behavior to that point.
Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan are along for appearances but with little to do. But it is a chance to see one of the best comediennes ever to grace the Silver Screen and Hollywood was poorer for it when she passed on.
Tugboat captain Marie Dressler (as Annie) manages to rear a son and run
the family business, with only spotty help from alcoholic husband
Wallace Beery (as Terry Brennan). "Tugboat Annie" sailed to the top of
box office lists, helmed by the tremendous appeal of Ms. Dressler. This
is one of her finest and most fondly remembered performances. Dressler
would be good anyway, but gets terrific help from Mr. Berry. He and
Dressler possess the chemistry and craft to pull off the slightly weak
and episodic story.
The weakness is in the bland relationship essayed by Robert Young (as Alexander "Alec" Brennan) and pretty Maureen O'Sullivan (as Patricia "Pat" Severn). Frankie Darro (as young Alec) is fine, studying algebra and history with Dressler in the early scenes, but you wonder how Dressler plus Berry (or anyone) could have netted Mr. Young. The relationship between Dressler and Berry is the story's strength, with the co-stars putting comic pathos in the classic "love triangle" involving wife, husband and alcohol.
******* Tugboat Annie (8/4/33) Mervyn LeRoy ~ Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery, Robert Young, Maureen O'Sullivan
This film is awfully campy and is a pretty insignificant film. However, this isn't really that bad a thing, as the acting and writing make this movie so much fun. I loved Marie Dressler's wonderful performance in the title role--it was funny and incredibly entertaining. And, combining her with Wallace Beery was a brilliant idea--they worked well together. The only odd thing about this movie was casting Robert Young as their grown son. I can't imagine WHAT a child of this ugly union would look like, but I would imagine it would look more like Mike Mizurki or Victor McLaglen! A great example of wonderful old-fashioned fun from MGM.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this some years ago as a 'late night' flick. It's pretty standard 1930s gritty/humor stuff. Annie Brennan, (Marie Dressler), and husband Terry, (Wallace Beery), are tugboat runners in Puget Sound. They have a son, Alec,(Robert Young), who's now the skipper of a fancy ocean liner. They're proud of him, but, they stay out of his way, and his new life and sweetie, Pat,(Maureen, 'Jane', O'Sullivan). After all, they're only tugboat people. One night, during a terrible storm, they have the only tug available to save his ship. The Narcissus has always had problems, but, to accomplish their mission, Wallace has to enter the boiler, while it's fully stoked and fired, to patch some leaking water/steam tubes. Hard to watch for anyone, Marie has to. His pain, and her concern and horror, showcase what superb actors both were. For a prequel with both lead actors playing similar characters, check out Min and Bill.
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