China Seas (1935)

Passed  |   |  Action, Drama, Adventure  |  16 August 1935 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,568 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 20 critic

When earthy Dolly Portland is rejected by Captain Gaskell in favor of a socialite, she aids Jamesy McCardle, in league with Malay pirates, in his plot to seize his ship.



(screen play), (screen play), 6 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jamesy MacArdle
Dudley Digges ...
Sir Guy
Robert Benchley ...
William Henry ...
Liev De Maigret ...
Mrs. Vollberg (as Live de Maigret)
Mrs. Timmons (as Lillian Bond)
Edward Brophy ...
Soo Yong ...
Carol Ann Beery ...
Carol Ann


Dynamic Alan Gaskell captains a ship bound from Hong Kong to Singapore. Gaskell tries to turn over a new leaf from his hard-drinking lifestyle after becoming attached to a refined high class English lady, Sybil Barclay. His former girlfriend Dolly is extremely jealous of the budding relationship and tries hard to get the Captain back. He is apparently unimpressed with her loud, obnoxious, and uncivilized manners, even though she is extremely beautiful. After a temporary take over of the ship by gold-seeking Asian pirates, Captain Gaskell must deal with the fact that Dolly and her drinking pal, Jamesey MacArdle, are implicated in the crime. Written by Gary Jackson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

16 August 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mares de China  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


While shooting in the studio two stuntmen were nearly killed as they were washed away by 50 tons of water. See more »


During the storm when Jamesy MacArdle grabs China Doll and swings her around in his room towards his dresser at about the 48 minute mark, her dress strap comes down revealing what appears to be her bare breast. She quickly lifts her strap and continues. See more »


Captain Alan Gaskell: I'll be over as soon as I get through. Anything you want?
Dolly 'China Doll' Portland: Anything I... ? Toots, I got everything.
See more »


Edited into Spisok korabley (2008) See more »


On the Road To Mandalay
(1907) (uncredited)
Music by Oley Speaks
Lyrics by Rudyard Kipling
Variation played as part of the score during the opening credits and at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

Harlow, Gable, and Beery at their best
20 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"When I want you to sound off, Golden Bell, I'll pull your rope"--Harlow to Yu-Lan in "China Seas." There's not another actor, alive or dead, who could make that line work, but Harlow finds both the obvious comedy and the hidden pathos in it. (The pathos stems from her realization that she's out of her league, and her fear that the others at the table are looking down their noses at her.)

She, Gable, and Wallace Beery, are perfectly cast here. Harlow is the sassy, brassy, slightly shady blonde who's impulsive and emotional, but who really wants to do the right thing. Gable is of course steady and solid, all man, in charge, unflappable, ironic, and irresistible. Beery is by turns roguish, charming, tough, and menacing.

Roz Russell does a fine job as an old flame of Clark's who shows up for the voyage. Her British accent holds up pretty well. Lewis Stone plays the cowardly 3rd Officer who is out to repair his reputation, a far cry from his future as Judge Hardy. And Robert Benchley does his familiar drunkard routine.

Besides being well-cast, the film is exciting, with tropical storms, piracy at sea, and complicated romances. The special effects are excellent for the era, and the pacing is lively. Really a fine film.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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