Anita Page lost a lot of her vibrancy with talking pictures. Her lively performance as gold digging "Annikins" in "Our Dancing Daughters" (1928) stole the movie from the star Joan Crawford and big things were predicted for her career. Talking pictures exposed her acting limitations - even though she was the star of "The Broadway Melody" most of the audience then, as well as now, thought Bessie Love dominated the film. She felt her career was scuttled because she wouldn't give into L.B. Mayer's sexual advances but, I think, by 1930 she had found her niche as a pretty leading lady to up and coming young actors like Clark Gable and Robert Montgomery. "Navy Blues" created more excitement about William Haines who in 1929 was MGM's top male star. It was his first "all talkie" and in it he played his speciality - a wise cracking, know it all, with plenty of self confidence, who has to eat plenty of humble pie before the film's end. With added sound, he came across as an obnoxious show off but that is probably what fans expected.
With some wonderful opening shots of ships on maneuvers, Haines plays Kelly, an extrovert sailor who with buddy Swede (Karl Dane, who doesn't get much of a chance to show off his limited knowledge of English) goes to a "Ladies Uplift Society Dance" to find a dame!!! He does, in the shape of pretty Alice Brown (Anita Page) but when he escorts her home, her mother isn't impressed. Her father feels sympathy for him - after all he was once a sailor himself. He charms Alice with his "poisonality" and they spend a lovely day at a fun fair and finish it off at a dance hall. Coming home they get on the wrong side of Mrs. Brown and in a fury Alice decides to leave home. This isn't what Kelly expected but he helps her find a room at a seedy hotel and promptly crushes Alice's dreams by admitting he is not the marrying kind. After he returns to his ship, Alice, left alone (she feels she can't return to her parents) and feeling abandoned, begins to earn money in the usual way (for pre-coders).
When Kelly gets leave he visits the Browns, expecting to find Alice there - he is horrified to learn they haven't from her and also how defeated they are, her mother hasn't been well and is a broken woman. He vows to track Alice down and finds her at a night club where she informs him that she, now, is not the marrying kind - fortunately, he helps change her mind.
I thought initially William Haines' character was pretty hard to take but after a while (in the later scenes) he toned down his "annoyingness" but still played the part with a lot of pep and verve. This was an MGM A production. It was directed by Clarence Brown, who was MGM's top director at that time, he sandwiched it in between "A Woman of Affairs" and "Anna Christie".
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