Navy Blues (1929) Poster


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Terrific William Haines
drednm3 November 2007
After the success of the silent film SPEEDWAY in 1929, William Haines made his starring talkie debut in NAVY BLUES with Anita Page, who was fresh from her success in THE Broadway MELODY.

Haines plays a sailor on leave on who Page at a local dance. They have a whirlwind romance but his brash personality alienates her family and she is thrown out of the house. Haines takes her to a boarding house; she expects him to marry her but he abandons her and goes back to sea. After a few months he gets leave and goes looking for her, knowing he made a huge mistake. She's working as a dance hall girl (read prostitute), but he finds her and rescues her. Happy ending.

Haines is terrific here, a natural comic with his silly-billy antics. He loses none of his charm transferring from silents to talkies. And when the moment calls for dramatics, he's ready. Haines was a huge star in his day and NAVY BLUES was a solid hit for him.

Co-stars include Karl Dane in one of his best talkies roles, Edythe Chapman, J.C. Nugent, Jack Pennick, Wade Boteler, and Richard Tucker.
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Three Stars Soon On The Way Out...
xerses1310 May 2010
The three (3) principals of NAVY BLUES (1929) were at or near the top of the M.G.M. Star System. William Haines, Anita Page and Carl Dane all were very popular at that time, having successfully negotiated their rise too 'Stardom'. Now a new challenge arose, the 'talking picture'. In this modest film they were allowed to strut their stuff and learn how to manage the new restrictions of the sound medium.

THE NUTS; JACK KELLY (Haines), Seaman in the U.S.N. is a character wrapped up in his 'Gay-Blade' persona, a role Haines frequently fell back upon. SVEN SWANSON (Dane) his shipmate and 'friend' issues forth in the same way he did in silents, a simple minded Swede. ALICE 'Allie' BROWN (Page) provides the romantic interest. Other then some on-board footage showing Naval life most of the story concentrates on ALICE and JACK. JACK having to come to terms that it is time to 'grow-up' and commit to the person he loves.

The early restrictions of sound filming are clearly evident. Most shots are static with some 'left to right' movement. Nobody wanting to miss their marks or the microphones. The shipboard footage is interesting, though the Clemson Class Destroyer, our latest type was obsolete when laid down. Not even having been ten (10) years in service.

Neither Haines or Page had any trouble adapting to the new medium, their voices easily registered and matched their characters. Dane though had a thick accent, but was not unintelligible. Voice training would have solved the worse of his problems. Either He or M.G.M. were not interested in following up on this and his career petered out in the early 1930's. On 04/14/1934 Dane ended his problems, with a bullet.

Tastes were changing and though Haines was tops at the Box-Office in 1930, Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg were not satisfied. In their opinion, clean up and keep private your personal life or you will be 'persona non grata'. Haines chose to go his own way ending his film career, but becoming a successful interior decorator. Likewise Page was deemed expendable with the studio preferring Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo and Norma Shearer. Nor was she interested in playing casting couch politics with the executive staff, so exit Ms. Page. This all happened in a period of only five (5) years. The transition period from silents too sound was tough, these three (3) were casualties of it.
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William Haines Aims To Tease In His Debut Talkie Feature
Ron Oliver12 August 2000
A silly, irresponsible sailor gives his new girlfriend a bad case of the NAVY BLUES when he loves her & leaves her, instead of offering marriage.

Carrying on the Silly Billy antics he perfected in silent pictures, William Haines made his talkie feature debut in this piece of cinematic fluff, released 5 days before Christmas, 1929. He would play variations of this character throughout the rest of his screen career. Just as important, in NAVY BLUES he showed himself well capable of being a talkie star. Although he acts like a complete cad, he does so with a certain amount of boyish charm, and that's what made money for the studios. And the very next year, 1930, Haines would be Hollywood's male box office champ.

The plot doesn't stand up to much scrutiny. Haines' wild & flamboyant behavior, quite frankly, would make him a good candidate for a 'don't ask - don't tell' policy, and a frequent inhabitant of the brig. His eventual rehabilitation seems suspiciously superficial. Anita Page, as his disappointed sweetheart, seems a bit too easily pushed into prostitution. Karl Dane, as a hulking Swede seaman, is given little to do except act exceedingly simple-minded.

Still, in the final accounting this is William Haines' film, and although his character is slightly repellent, Haines is never less than amusing.
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a few chuckles, some star appeal
mukava99113 May 2010
William Haines, the eternal mischief maker, strikes again as a sailor on two-day leave who after much effort sweeps innocent young Anita Page off her feet. There isn't much to this routine boy-meets-girl story other than another manic performance by Haines, whose antics admittedly are a matter of taste, and the winsome presence of Page, who is given relatively little to do but react to her dominant male co-star. Three Fred Ahlert-Roy Turk songs are featured: the title song – the least of the bunch - which is sung at various points by individuals and a poorly miked large ensemble, as well as snatches of "Mean to Me" and "I'll Get By" played by dance bands. The shipboard sequences with Haines, Karl Dane and others, intended as rowdy comedy, may have amused audiences in 1929 but they drag now, though Haines does manage to squeeze some laughs out of the material through sheer persistence.
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William Haines and Anita Page Were Both Naturals for Talkies!!!
kidboots6 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
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".

Highly Recommended.
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Hearing William Haines
wes-connors16 May 2010
On shore leave, sailor William Haines (as Jack Kelly) meets pretty blonde Anita Page (as Alice Brown) at a dance. The pair fall in love, but her possessive parents consider Mr. Haines to be "a common, ordinary sailor," and throw Ms. Page out in the streets. With reluctant help from pal Karl Dane (as Sven "Swede" Swanson), Haines tries to straighten out his irresponsible life, and settle down with Page. This was the first "talkie" for box office star Haines, who helped keep the sound of cash registers ringing for MGM.

In hindsight, "Navy Blues" is an average Haines formula film. It was also the first time many filmgoers heard Mr. Dane, a popular supporting actor who had less of a Swedish accent than he had in silent films ("Yumping Yimminey!). The men had just released another film with Page ("Speedway"), who was considered one of the biggest new stars of the year. It is fun to watch how much attention Haines pays to Page's pretty legs in this film - his inability to keep his hands to himself undoubtedly appealed to many.

***** Navy Blues (12/13/29) Clarence Brown ~ William Haines, Anita Page, Karl Dane, Edythe Chapman
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Believe me, three is a generous mark!
JohnHowardReid14 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Copyright 2 January 1930 by Metro Goldwyn Mayer Distributing Corp. New York opening at the Capitol: 10 January 1930. U.S. release: 20 December 1929. 6,936 feet. 77 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Bumptious sailor meets a nice girl at a dance hall.

VIEWER'S GUIDE: An ideal way to punish obstreperous kids: Tie them to a chair and make them watch a William Haines picture.

COMMENT: Those old critics knew a thing or two. In this case, they're dead right. Navy Blues is a terrible picture, a chore to sit through, mainly because William Haines is so plain awful. His is a repulsive personality, full of conceit and boorish, fast-talking egomania. He never stops hogging the mike or the camera. The other players are utterly swamped by his over-bearing self-adulation. Even Karl Dane, no mean scene-chewer himself, is reduced to a mere supporting slot. Whatever a lovely girl like Anita Page can see in this mean-faced braggart beats us. Brown's disappointingly static, pedestrianly indulgent direction doesn't help either. Production values are appropriately meager.

OTHER VIEWS: Aside from the interesting fact that the melody of the theme song was stolen by Stephen Sondheim for "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", and that Anita Page is a mildly attractive heroine and that some of the film was obviously lensed on location on board a real battleship, this is an unrewarding film. William Haines is the original hammy Mister Obnoxious of romantic leads and is about as funny as a hand-stand in the morgue. The sound recording is so muffled it often sounds like the actors are saying their lines under water and the direction is so ordinary as to make one think Mr Brown didn't have more than an ounce of talent. - JHR writing as George Addison.
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"Charming" Billy Haines
marcslope11 May 2010
As a happy-go-lucky sailor who woos, leaves, and returns to sweet, low-class Anita Page, William Haines plays what he always plays, and it hasn't worn well. What may have been charming and cheeky in 1929 now comes across as self-centered and smug, with Haines' character making unfunny jokes, hitting up his Navy pal (the equally unwatchable Karl Dane) for loans he doesn't intend to pay back, avoiding responsibility, and playing a love'-em-and-leave-'em cad. Despite what we now know about Haines, he's a convincing ladies' man--just not very appealing. Clarence Brown directs with a more mobile camera than most 1929 talkies boasted, and the Navy footage is interesting historically. And Page, with an emotional scene or two, acquits herself nicely. But all these characters just seem kind of simpleminded, and we're not particularly rooting for these two to end up together, whatever the screenplay is telling us.
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