In spite of the constant difficulties imposed by her rival Captain Bullwinkle, the widowed Tugboat Annie manages to hold her own in the competitive tugboat business in the port of Secoma. But with the aid of Eddie Kent, a young sailor who works for her, and Peggy Armstrong, a rich socialite who is in love with Eddie, Annie overcomes the odds. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Marjorie Rambeau, an excellent character actress twice nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, has the unenviable task of having to attempt to fill the shoes of the legendary Marie Dressler in one of her most famous and popular roles in this quasi-sequel to TUGBOAT ANNIE. Ms. Rambeau has her work cut out for her saddled with an uneven script, a modest B production, and a aging makeup job that at best makes her look like a worn Ethel Barrymore and at worst (most of the picture) like a slightly feminine Lon Chaney. Add it a heavy, unnecessary Irish accent for the character and dialogue with episodes loaded with lame malapropisms and it's a tribute to Ms. Rambeau's talent that this boat manages to float at all.
Tugboat Annie and rival tugboat captain Alan Hale (playing a character named Bullwinkle, which I first thought was merely a slam of a moniker given him by Annie) clash as they vie for jobs at sea. Hale is not above dirty tricks to try to come out on top. Annie and her small crew (which include Chill Wills and Victor Kilian in early roles) however are seldom bested but circumstances come about where Annie's job is in jeopardy and one rich customer wants her replaced by a man. Meanwhile the millionaire's daughter (played by a gorgeous young blonde Jane Wyman) has a crush on one of Annie's young assistants (Ronald Reagan) and stowaway on one rough trip to Alaska. The Wyman-Reagan semi-romance is so prominent in the early scenes it's a shock that their storyline is pretty much dropped in the last third of the film.
The story loses what interest it has somewhere midway in the picture but recovers nicely toward the end with one genuinely hilarious scene at a beauty salon as the now unemployed Annie attempts to relax and be a conventional female but can't help but talk old shop talk about tugboats, unbeknownst to the society woman who sits near her who is horrified at Annie's tale of a "tramp" (boat) ruined by a worthless man, some surprisingly strong double entendres in Annie's story for a studio film of the period.
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