Bill Roberts works as a stoker on a coal-red barge. It's dirty, hard work and the men have to put up with a foreman, Andy, who seems to enjoy making their life miserable. When finally off the ship, Bill sees a young woman struggling in the water - apparently trying to commit suicide. He takes her to the Sandbar saloon, the sailors' hangout. The girl is Mae and Bill takes a shine to her but so does Andy. One thing leads to another and Bill asks her to marry him then and there. They don't have a marriage ;licence however and despite Bill promising to get one first thing the morning he decides to leave her behind. When she gets into trouble however, Bill steps in.
In washed the tide. Picked from the driftwood at the waterside. A woman, sullen, weary, disillusioned. And a ship's stoker, ashore for a rollicking rouser. A Josef von Sternberg masterpiece (Print Ad- The Observer, ((Newberry, SC)) 26 March 1929)
Did You Know?
'Sugar' Steve tries to light Mae's cigarette from the same match he used to light Bill's and his own cigarettes while she is mending Bill's shirt. Mae blows out the match and says, "What are you trying to do, bring me more bad luck?" He must light a new match for her cigarette. At the time, "three on a match" was considered bad luck. Soldiers during the Crimea War believed that if three soldiers lit their cigarettes from the same match, one of the three would be killed, or alternately the third soldier to use the match would be shot. The superstition persisted with soldiers through World War II. See more
[Opening lines. Intertitle
The Waterfront of New York - The end of many journeys, the beginning of many adventures.
Video version includes new score by Gaylord Carter. See more