Ruby falls in love with small-time con man Eddie. During a botched blackmail scheme, Eddie accidentally kills the man they were setting up. Eddie takes off and Ruby is sent to a reformatory for two years.
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 re-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 takeover 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 <email@example.com>
"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.
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