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This film is probably not well known because it was made just before Fox Films went bankrupt and was bought up and combined with 20th Century Pictures. It is hard to track down, and thus the one misleading storyline about it I see printed is that a nurse marries a navy doctor because she is interested in the man's crippled daughter. That's not really what happens.
The main plot line of the film is that a civilian nurse in a Navy hospital (Claire Trevor as Vicki Blake) and a widower naval officer who is a doctor (Ralph Bellamy as Dr. Quentin Harden) meet and fall in love. Quentin lost his wife nine years before when their daughter, Susan, was born. Susan has recently suffered from polio and all of the doctors say she will never walk again. Quentin proposes to Vicki but admits he can't put memories of his first wife out of his mind. Vicki admits being rather tainted on marriage because of her parents' divorce when she was a child. To get Quentin out of her system, Vicki leaves her position and goes to visit her mother in Buenos Aires, where she has remarried a wealthy gentleman. When Vicki's visit is done, she sails for Pearl Harbor where her close friends, the Keats, are now stationed. Mr. Keats is a naval officer. Vicki is surprised to see that Quentin is stationed at Pearl Harbor too, realizes she is not over him, and marries him.
After a year of marriage, Vicki can't deal with living with the ghost of the first Mrs. Harden any longer, and she has a reason to leave when she learns of a treatment in Los Angeles that can possibly get Susan walking again. Now Ralph Bellamy could play a tough unlikeable cookie in his films, but here he is very sweet and sentimental to the point that it's difficult to perceive this coldness that Vicki is almost hysterical about. Meanwhile, months pass, and a lonely Quentin gets the attention of an attractive woman at a bar as disapproving older friends look on with great disdain as the two begin dancing, implying the beginning of an extra-marital romance. At this point, I'll let you try to track down a copy of this film and see how the melodrama plays out.
Don't let my description of an almost paint by numbers 30's melodrama make you think this is not an interesting film. There is some very strange stuff going on in this one as far as side plots and ironies. First off, in an early scene, Claire Trevor's character is told that a seaman is "going overboard" - dying - and wants her at his bedside. He requests she sing a song. She sings "Swing Low Sweet Chariot" in a perfectly good voice when Trevor's terrible rendition of a song would be part of a cruel joke in "Key Largo" 13 years later. As Trevor's character walks to the seaman's bedside there is an African American seaman in a bed apparently dying surrounded by other African Americans singing traditional African American spirituals - an odd sight in a Navy hospital.
When a ship docks in the harbor and the sailors come ashore, sailor Butch (Warren Hymer) is asked what is the first thing he wants to do. He says - "I can't wait to get my leg over ... a motorcycle!". Usually we have sailors on leave hitting the nearest bar, but here they all hit the pavement one after another in a bizarre motorcycle racing scene among the sailors on shore leave. Again, how odd. In fact, it seems the accident prone Butch does his best to stay horizontal and in the hospital. This was peacetime - 1935 - and there was no draft. So why exactly DID he join the navy? Later, in Pearl Harbor, Butch isn't in the navy at all. Somehow he has morphed into the Hardens' houseboy. As if anyone would want someone that lazy and clumsy handling their best china.
Ben Lyon isn't given much to do here. In fact he doesn't even join the plot until Vicki is sailing for Pearl Harbor. Onboard he seems to be some kind of persistent flirt and is constantly hounding her, but then forgets all that once he is in Hawaii.
I'd recommend this one because, as is common in the Fox films of the early 30's it's not the main plot that will necessarily grab your attention, it is all of the odd little things going on in the background.
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