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Alcoholic newspaperman Steve Bramley boards the San Capador for a restful cruise, hoping to quit drinking and begin writing a book. Also on board are Steve's friend Schulte, a private detective hoping to nab criminal Danny Checkett with a fortune in stolen bonds. Steve begins drinking, all the while observing the various stories of other passengers on board, several of whom turn out not to be who they seem to be. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Actor John Gilbert's career was waning by the time he was hired by 'poverty row' studio Columbia for this picture. Gilbert's lucrative contract option had been dropped by the larger and richer MGM studios because his voice had tested higher than suited his masculine screen image. With his career in shambles, Gilbert had begun to drink heavily, but thanks mainly to the support of his friend Lewis Milestone, Gilbert was hired by Columbia for this picture...with the sole condition that he remain sober throughout the production. Unfortunately, Gilbert by this time was an alcoholic unable to stay away from drinking for very long, particularly among such heavy-drinking cast members as Walter Catlett and Victor McLaglen. Keeping the cast sober proved impossible, even while filming at sea. In a rage at the mounting expenditures, Columbia president Harry Cohn telegraphed director Milestone, 'Return to studio. The cost is staggering.' Milestone wired back, 'So is the cast!' See more »
Right after the stern line is cast off, showing us the ship's starboard side is at dockside, the Captain (Walter Connolly) orders the helm, "Hard to starboard" - which would send the ship right back into the dock. See more »
This oddly-named film is so titled because the captain (Water Connolly) states this fact as his ship sets sail. The actual film, however has little to do with its captain. The upshot Columbia Pictures' "The Captain Hates the Sea" is done in the storytelling style of MGM's "Grand Hotel" but with more of the humor attempted in "Dinner at Eight"
you will be able to cast the "Dinner at Eight" stars quite easily
into this film. The main story involves police detective Victor McLaglen (as Junius P. Schulte) following slight-of-hand Fred Keating (as Danny Checkett) on ship, seeking some swiped bonds (they're as good as money). Mr. Keating is, in turn, trails pretty Helen Vinson (as Janet Grayson), and both men become rivals for her affection...
That may be the main story, but the focus of attention clearly falls on fourth-billed John Gilbert (as Steve Bramley)...
Mr. Gilbert plays an alcoholic writer from Hollywood, taking the cruise to quit drinking and start writing his great American novel. Gilbert gets a good amount of screen time, and was, if you had to pick one of the "ensemble" cast, the main star of "The Captain Hates the Sea". Most importantly, this was Mr. Gilbert's last appearance, as he would die prematurely, in just over a year. Gilbert's death has been linked to his chronic alcoholism, and he appears drunk in this film. Since the role calls for him to be drunk, you could say he utilized "method" acting. But, really, on close inspection, this this was a sad role for a dying man. One of his co-stars also appears inebriated, and most of the top-billed men in the cast were notorious drinkers...
Gilbert had built a fairly solid career, over a decade, but his popularity exploded in 1925, due to appearances in "The Merry Widow" and "The Big Parade". In these two productions, Gilbert advanced himself not only as a romantic star, but also as a serious actor. The quality of Gilbert's performance had advanced so that no less than Lillian Gish chose him to co-star in her next production. And, later, Greta Garbo insisted he be cast in "Queen Christina" (1934), which turned out to be Gilbert's last excellent production. "Queen Christina" was also a big "box office" hit, out-grossing all of the older Garbo/Gilbert films. His earlier sound films weren't bad, either - but Gilbert was no longer a superstar, and he didn't know how to be anything but one.
***** The Captain Hates the Sea (10/22/34) Lewis Milestone ~ John Gilbert, Victor McLaglen, Fred Keating, Helen Vinson
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