Jack is a sailor who lives to go to sea. A typical sailor, he is always broke and has been in seven jails in the last seven ports. The one girl he tries to impress the most is in London and...
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Jack is a sailor who lives to go to sea. A typical sailor, he is always broke and has been in seven jails in the last seven ports. The one girl he tries to impress the most is in London and his mates call her 'the Eskimo'. For two years, he approaches her every time he docks near London, and for two years, Joan rejects the expensive gifts he brings to her and ignores any and all advances he makes. She wants nothing to do with a sailor. When Jack uses trickery to convince Joan to marry him, Joan leaves him when she finds out the truth about his so called new life. There are rough seas ahead as Jack tries to get Joan to come back to him.Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mainly watch it to see that John Gilbert really GOT acting in the talkies...
...but let me warn you that the first half hour of this 85 minute film is a long hard slog. Gilbert plays "Jack", a sailor on a commercial line, who seems to have some kind of beef with fellow sailor "Tripod" (Wallace Beery), although the origin of this rift is never revealed. The boat lands, the sailors are on leave, and there is drunken brawl after drunken brawl for no reason. Someone will just insult someone else or break a bottle over someone's head for apparently no reason. Then everybody starts fighting. This got repetitive, plus the dawn of sound soundtrack is so bad that trying to hear these players speak, during storms, out of doors, in crowded bars, is nearly impossible. I had to rewind several times to get what was even going on. The bright spot in this part of the film - Polly Moran showing up all disheveled in a bar carrying a mallet of all things. Considering how rowdy things got and how quickly they got rowdy, maybe she was smart to be carrying a mallet after all.
During the next hour things improve considerably as the ship lands in London and we meet the object of Jack's affection, Joan (Leila Hyams), a clerk in the shipping company office. She wants nothing to do with him because he is a sailor. Hyams could have come off as snooty in this role, but she doesn't, even without an exact explanation of her rejection. I felt that she might have been hurt or lied to by a sailor before, or she might have seen that happen, enough that she is simply not going to consider a sailor as a suitor. The point is, she plays the part vulnerable and it works. Likewise, Gilbert's character, though rough around the edges, is actually likable. He wants to marry the girl, so his intentions are honorable. He just thinks that lying is OK in the pursuit of this honorable intention. It's at this point the first half hour of the film - which has seemed pointless up to now - begins to make sense. It shows the rough and tumble kind of temporary port to port life Jack is accustomed to and helps explain his actions. He borrows money from the other sailors, buys a suit, and gives Joan a total lie of a story about him quitting the sea and getting a job in the shipping office. Now on the surface this seems despicable, but then you think back to the first half hour and remember in Jack's world the end justifies the means. How does this work out? Watch and find out.
I'd say it is worth it to see that John Gilbert did understand how to act and project a character in the talkies, and also this film gives a supporting role to Wallace Beery that he was just made to play before MGM pretty much promoted him to leading man status after Min and Bill came out later in 1930.
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