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Marie Galante (1934)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Thriller | 26 October 1934 (USA)
Marie is kidnapped and taken aboard ship, then thrown off at Yucatan. She winds up singing in a café in the Panama Canal zone. There she gets involved in a plot to destroy the canal and runs into American intelligence officer Crawbett.


Henry King


Reginald Berkeley (screen play), Jacques Deval (based on the novel by)

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Complete credited cast:
Spencer Tracy ... Dr. Crawbett
Ketti Gallian ... Marie Galante
Ned Sparks ... Plosser
Helen Morgan ... MissTapia
Sig Ruman ... Brogard (as Sigfried Rumann)
Leslie Fenton ... Gen. Saki Tenoki
Arthur Byron ... Gen. Gerald Phillips
Robert Loraine Robert Loraine ... Ratcliff
Frank Darien Frank Darien ... Ellsworth
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Adrienne D'Ambricourt ... French Girl (scenes deleted)


Marie Galante, a pretty French deliverer of telegrams, is inadvertently abducted by a drunken sea captain bound for Central America. Escaping in Mexico, Marie travels down the coast trying to find a way back home to France. In the Panama Canal Zone, she finds work as a singer and piques the interest of several men: Tenoki, a Japanese merchant, Brogard, his German competitor, Ratcliff, a British diplomatic agent, and Dr. Crawbett, ostensibly a researcher into tropical diseases. In fact, one or more of these men is involved in espionage and a plot to sink the U.S. fleet as it passes through the canal. Naive Marie cannot believe anything nefarious is afoot, but the handsome Dr. Crawbett convinces her to help him uncover the saboteur. But Marie is not sure she can trust even Crawbett. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »





English | French

Release Date:

26 October 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Maria Galante See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fox Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The female lead role was offered to Clara Bow, but she refused. See more »


The telegram that Marie delivers to the ship's captain is on a Western Union form with US information in English around the message. This is extremely unlikely. See more »


Dr. Crawbett: Yeah, Yeah. He must have bumped himself off. Shot himself from behind through the heart, and then ran around in front of himself, and plunged the cheese knife into his own gizzard.
See more »


Remade as Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) See more »


Serves Me Right for Treating You Wrong
Written by Maurice Sigler, Al Goodhart and Al Hoffman
Sung by Helen Morgan in the nightclub
See more »

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User Reviews

The Little Saga of Marie Basilide
2 September 2017 | by EdgarSTSee all my reviews

As reported here, Marie Galante is a French girl working with the French telegram public agency who, after suffering several mishaps, "ends up singing in a café in the Panama Canal Zone". She soon gets involved in a plot to destroy the canal, a ship or a fleet. «Marie Galante» was based on a best-selling novel by Jacques Duval published in 1931, but when the screenwriters adapted it to cinema they "fumigated" the story and almost canonized Marie. In the original Marie Basilide is a poor girl from Bordeaux that is kidnapped and abandoned in Venezuela, and who finally arrives in Panama where she prostitutes to achieve her goal of returning home. It was a mixture of espionage and sex, and a reflection on French colonialism, referring to the Panama Canal. The movie is anything but that, maybe espionage and a little of prudish sex, but no more. Referring to the synopsis, what caught my attention most was the phrase "café in the Panama Canal Zone". Was this kind of place existent in the Canal Zone? I do not have the answer and I have no idea what the Zonians would do to have fun at night outside the barracks or homes in the military forts. I know that the city of Panamá once had fancy cabarets, where famous artists performed, where Evita Perón sang and where soldiers and marines used to go. But I never heard of cafes or bars strictly speaking within the militarized Canal Zone. In my youth, if I ever went to anything remotely similar, it was a big wood yacht club on the banks of the canal, where bands of American soldiers and Panamanians played rock and roll. In any case, returning to «Marie Galante», the film was not as successful as expected, though it is entertaining enough, and director Henry King maintained the interest with discretion, without becoming a "great espionage opus". Nevertheless, that did not prevent that a theatrical producer urged Deval to turn it into a musical the year the film was released. To that end, the producer hired none other than Kurt Weill, the master composer who collaborated with playwright Bertolt Brecht, and author of the song «Mack the Knife». But the frivolous Deval did not take the job seriously, he went to the United States to have fun and did not really adapt his novel to the stage, but directly transferred fragments of dialogue from the novel to the musical libretto, with many sets to make any set designer crazy, including a port with moving ships. The musical did not last a month in the theater. Efforts were made in 2009 to resurrect it and it was staged in Rome and New York. In the movies, the novel had better luck, when a new (unacredited) version was made by Fox in 1940, for the Charlie Chan series: the quite appreciable «Charlie Chan in Panama» in which Sidney Toler was by far more entertaining and astute than Spencer Tracy in «Marie Galante», as the investigator who uncovers a plot to destroy the Panama Canal.

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