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Wharf Angel (1934)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 March 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.4/10 from 13 users  
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"Mother Bright's" place on the lawless, waterfront district of the 'Barbary Coast' in San Francisco is the toughest of all saloons that can be found, and that is where "Turk", a stoker on a... See full summary »


(story), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Credited cast:
Dorothy Dell ...
Preston Foster ...
Como Murphy
Alison Skipworth ...
Mother Bright
David Landau ...
John Rogers ...
Alfred Delcambre ...
James Burke ...
Brooklyn Jack
Frank Sheridan ...
The Skipper
Donald E. Wilson ...
John Northpole ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Grace Bradley ...
Saloon Girl


"Mother Bright's" place on the lawless, waterfront district of the 'Barbary Coast' in San Francisco is the toughest of all saloons that can be found, and that is where "Turk", a stoker on a freighter named "The Coyote", and his shipmates can be found when in port. They are there when Como Murphy, fleeing the law for a killing he did not commit, bursts in seeking a hiding place. Mother Bright directs him upstairs to a door that leads to another building, but Murphy opens the wrong door and finds himself in the room of "Toy," one of the many girls employed by Mother Bright in the event any of the sailors desires to purchase anything other than whiskey. "Toy" takes pity on Murphy and hides him when the police knock on her door. She and Murphy then talk the night away and are very much in love when the dawn breaks. "Turk" is also much smitten with "Toy" but the feeling isn't mutual. "Turk" gets Murphy a stoker's position on "The Coyote" and the two soon become close friends, and tell each... Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Barbary Coast! Where the tides of human passions roll up strange wrecks of life and love...a haven for crushed derelicts...such as Toy, who knew men but never heard of love!


Drama | Romance






Release Date:

16 March 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Dama do Porto  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »


Oh, You Beautiful Doll
Music by Nat Ayer
Lyrics by A. Seymour Brown
See more »

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User Reviews

Love vs Friendship in a Paramount Pre-Code
7 September 2014 | by (NYC suburbs) – See all my reviews

Political activist Como Murphy (Preston Foster), on the run from a murder rap, ducks into Mother Bright's (Alison Skipworth) waterfront saloon on the infamous Barbary Coast and forms a fast friendship with Turk (Victor McLaglen), a stoker on a ship bound for Shanghai. When the cops close in, Como's directed upstairs where he stumbles into Toy's room (a sexy Dorothy Dell) and he spends the night there. The next day, he leaves a note for Toy promising to return and signs on with Turk's ship but on shore leave in the Orient, Como learns the gal Turk carries a torch for is none other than Toy. Como doesn't tell Turk he knows Toy and when their ship docks in Frisco, both men make a bee line for Ma Bright's where their romantic triangle comes to a deadly head...

Paramount's burly brawler Victor McLaglen had been playing variations on the "love & friendship" shtick ever since WHAT PRICE GLORY? back in '26 and handsome Preston Foster makes a good romantic opponent for him here. Paramount's back lot Frisco, all fog and shadow, was put over with a bit of panache by director William Cameron Menzies, who'd go on to greater fame as one of Hollywood's premiere set designers. Released just before the Production Code crackdown, it's obvious how Dorothy Dell earns her living at Mother Bright's and there's lots of snappy patter, too, such as "No tow-headed jane is gonna make a monkey out of me!" and Dell actually tells McLaglen to "flock off" at one point. The alluring Dottie also warbles a wistful blues ballad and a lean and lanky Mischa Auer makes the most of his role as shifty shipmate Sadik, replete with an earring and a turncoat temper.

Things were going great guns for nineteen year-old Dorothy Dell at the time; the former "Miss New Orleans" and "Miss Universe of 1930" was plucked from the Ziegfield Follies by Paramount and groomed as its answer to Fox's Alice Faye. Dorothy had just made her mark in the Shirley Temple starrer, Little Miss Marker, and it looked like she had arrived when it all came to a sudden, tragic end on June 8, 1934. Returning from a party in the Altadena hills, Dottie and her date were killed in a car crash; their automobile went over an embankment, hit a telephone pole, and rammed into a boulder. Dorothy was killed instantly and her escort died a few hours later. Engaged to another at the time of her death, Dell was also romantically involved with crooner Russ Columbo who, along with Rudy Vallee and Bing Crosby, was making multitudes of female fans swoon as his velvety voice wafted over the airwaves.

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