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The Sin Ship (1931)

Passed | | Drama | 18 April 1931 (USA)
A lecherous ship captain becomes spiritually changed by a female passenger, not realizing she and her "minister" husband are really bank robbers.


Louis Wolheim


Keene Thompson (by), Agnes Brand Leahy (by) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Louis Wolheim ... Captain Sam McVey
Mary Astor ... Frisco Kitty
Ian Keith ... Smiley Marsden
Hugh Herbert ... Charlie
Russ Powell Russ Powell ... Inspector Colby
Alan Roscoe ... Crewman Dave


A minister and his wife miss their steamer, so they manage to gain passage on the gruff, middle-aged Captain Sam McVey's ship. But McVey isn't willing to let them ride entirely for free and attempts to force himself on the minister's beautiful wife when he gets her alone in his cabin "for tea." The wife rebuffs his advances and her strong words cause a change to come over him, a desire to be decent. Little does McVey know that the seemingly decent couple are not who they seem. They're Smiley Marsden and Frisco Kitty, bank robbers on the run. But Frisco Kitty finds herself being changed by the captain as well, and becomes ashamed of her ways. What will happen when the truth comes out? Written by cupcakes

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She Learned to Love From the Man She hated! (Print ad- Evening Leader, ((Corning, N. Y.)) 20 June 1931)




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 April 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Nau do Pecado See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


RKO rented six high-speed boats at $500 per hour to patrol the harbor at Catalina and prevent excessive noise during shooting, according to a contemporary Film Daily news item. See more »


Smiley Marsden: [to Frisco Kitty after hitting her] Now get this through your dumb nut - ya came here with me and your gonna stick with me, understand? I'm not gonna let any half-baked captain of a canoe take anything away from me. Whether I want it or not. And don't forget it.
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User Reviews

Average RKO Picture
10 May 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Sin Ship, The (1931)

** (out of 4)

A rather bland attempt at something racy, this drama features Louis Wolheim as Captain Sam McVey, a piggish, drunk and rather mean man who agrees to take aboard a preacher (Ian Keith) and his wife (Mary Astor). Turns out these two are actually criminals but the abused Astor tries to convert the Captain to a better life but will he stay on track when he finds out the truth? This early RKO production has a few good moments but in the end it's pretty weak from start to finish. The biggest problem here is the screenplay, which seems to have been put together on the run as things are constantly being thrown at us but usually nothing happens with them. There are a few supporting characters that turn up, do something to keep the film moving and then just disappear. The film runs a brief 65-minutes so I was curious if some stuff got trimmed as the movie really jumps around quite a bit and never really seems to come together at the end. One good item is that, unlike many early sound movies, takes place on real docks, a real boat deck and various other "real" locations and not just cheap sets. Keeping many of the locations real makes for a more realistic film and it even added a nice atmosphere to go along with the rough characters. The performances are a mixed bag as well with Astor stealing the film in her role of the criminal with a heart of gold. I found her very believable in both parts as she's perfect as the abused woman and she also makes us feel that she really cares for Wolheim, even if it's hard to believe a woman of her beauty would. Wolheim is good as well and perfectly comes across as the mean guy and we believe when he starts to soften up. Keith, on the other hand, is a real mixed bag because when he's playing the preacher he really comes off bad. He seems to be acting out like the gay stereotype character that we saw throughout this early part of the decade and it's silly and very annoying. When it comes time to switch and be the bad guy he's a lot more entertaining. With that said, only fans of the cast members who want to see everything they've done should check this one out. There's just not enough here to make it entertaining and the ending will leave you rolling your eyes.

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