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Shipmates Forever (1935)

Approved | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 12 October 1935 (USA)
Dick is watching the fleet come in when he sees June. Dick has no intention of joining the Navy, which is a family tradition, and June, having lost her father and brother in the Navy, does ... See full summary »


Frank Borzage


Delmer Daves (story and screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
Dick Powell ... Richard John 'Dick' Melville III
Ruby Keeler ... June Blackburn
Lewis Stone ... Adm. Richard Melville
Ross Alexander ... Lafayette 'Sparks' Brown
Eddie Acuff ... Lincoln 'Cowboy'
Dick Foran ... Gifford
John Arledge ... Johnny 'Coxswain' Lawrence
Robert Light ... Ted Sterling
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joyce Oliver Joyce Oliver


Dick is watching the fleet come in when he sees June. Dick has no intention of joining the Navy, which is a family tradition, and June, having lost her father and brother in the Navy, does not want a Navy man. But Dick relents when his father says that he would not make it anyway and he enters the Naval Academy. The first year as a plebe is tough, but Dick is at the head of his class. He rooms alone, as he sees no need for friends as he plans to resign when he graduates. June has also changed her mind about Dick being at the Academy. The second year is the same, except for his old roommate Lawrence who washes out. Finally, the last year and he has a three month training cruise. This cruise will make or break Dick as a Navy man. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hats Off To The Navy's 'Flirtation Walk' !


Drama | Musical | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 October 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Anchors Aweigh See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Near the end of the movie, there is a great shot of a Martin P3M-2 seaplane landing in the ocean. Markings on the side of the plane show a "6". There were only 6 P3M-2's built. See more »


As Admiral Melville is watching the cadets march to their boats for their deployment aboard the U.S.S. Arkansas. His top row of ribbons has moved to the right. That row of ribbons had been centered for the whole film before this scene. See more »


Lafayette 'Sparks' Brown: I was raised on radio. Weaned on radio. Gotta have a radio.
See more »


Referenced in I'd Love to Take Orders from You (1936) See more »


Sweet and Slow
Music by Harry Warren
Played during the radio demonstration
See more »

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User Reviews

Shape Up or Ship Out
1 November 2000 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

SHIPMATES FOREVER (Warner Brothers, 1935) cashes in on the recent success of FLIRTATION WALK (1934), set in West Point, reuniting Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ross Alexander, John Arledge, Frederick Burton,  with Frank Borzage as their director, in a Navy themed product filmed on location at Annapolis, Maryland. As with FLIRTATION WALK, SHIPMATES FOREVER centers mostly upon Powell, not so much for his crooning, but his ability as a serious actor and ladies man. Although labeled a musical, the movie emphases more on plot than tunes, and contains more tearful/ sentimental moments than comedy, thus being a true departure for both Powell or Keeler, best known for their backstage musicals with Busby Berkeley dance numbers and gold digging chorus girls.

The scenario has Powell playing Richard John "Dick" Melville III, singer at the Sky Club in New York City, who would rather be entertaining than serving in the Navy as traditionally expected of him by his admiral father (Lewis Stone). Dick meets and immediately falls in love with June Blackburn (Ruby Keeler), a dancing teacher for little children, who also comes from a long line of Navy relatives. With the intention of taking his Navy entrance exam to show his father he can pass it, and not entering the academy, Dick has a change of heart and enters the academy anyway, but with the intention of throwing away his commission in the end. Dick soon resents the friendship of his fellow roommates and rooms alone after plebe year. Basically a loner and a disappointment to his father, Dick's only companion happens to be June. After risking his life saving a fellow shipmate, Johnny "Coxwain" Lawrence (John Arledge) from an exploding boiling room, Dick becomes a hero to his fellow shipmates, but it will be at graduation to show whether or not Dick has the making being a true Navy man.

Also in the cast are Robert Light (Ted Sterling); Eddie Acuff ("Cowboy" Lincoln); Dick Foran (Gifford); and Mary Treen (Cowboy's Girlfriend); Of the supporting players, it's Ross Alexander who adds some good doses of comedy as Lafayette "Sparks" Brown from Arkansas. His one scene where he successfully sneaks in a radio into his room during plebe year under the noses of his superiors should gather up few chuckles, especially when being too close to call.

When I first watched SHIPMATES FOREVER on Memorial Day weekend on Turner Network Television (TNT) back in 1989, I actually didn't care for it mainly because I was expecting a big song and dance/ flag waving, military musical in the tradition of BORN TO DANCE or FOLLOW THE FLEET (both 1936), or possibly an overblown lavish scale production in the manner of MGM's ANCHOR'S AWEIGH (1945) with Keeler tap dancing galore and Powell leading a parade of singing sailors, but after repeated viewing whenever shown on Turner Classic Movies, I find that SHIPMATES FOREVER breaks away from the usual military musical clichés, and truly believe it holds up better than FLIRTATION WALK mainly due to its realistic way Navy life is depicted.

With tunes by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, including "Don't Give Up the Ship," "I'd Love to Take Orders From You" and the charming "I'd Rather Listen to Your Eyes," the songs grow tiresome after being re-prised two or three times. While Keeler never tap danced in FLIRTATION WALK, she doesn't sing a note in SHIPMATES FOREVER, yet shows off her dancing skill in two brief sequences, one in a dancing school to the amazement of her students (The Meglin Kiddies), and another at the Sky Club. In spite of several time outs for a song, there are no production numbers at all. Reportedly distributed in theaters at 124 minutes, it's the 109 minute print that's currently in circulation on the TV markets. While Powell recruited to military duty as THE SINGING MARINE (1937), he would make a return engagement into the Navy once again, co-starring opposite the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello for IN THE NAVY (Universal, 1941). 

Trivia: The theme to SHIPMATES FOREVER was reworked as a 1939 military programmer titled ON DRESS PARADE (WB, 1939) starring The Dead End Kids, with Leo Gorcey assuming the role originally enacted by Powell, but minus the singing. (** Bells)

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