6.4/10
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Slave Ship (1937)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama | 16 August 1937 (Sweden)
Captain Lovett ordered his first mate Thompson to get rid of his slave-trading crew and get a more respectable bunch for standard shipping, but when he brings his new bride Nancy aboard he ... See full summary »

Director:

Tay Garnett

Writers:

Sam Hellman (screen play), Lamar Trotti (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Warner Baxter ... Jim Lovett
Wallace Beery ... Jack Thompson
Elizabeth Allan ... Nancy Marlowe
Mickey Rooney ... Swifty
George Sanders ... Lefty
Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Marlowe
Joseph Schildkraut ... Danelo
Miles Mander ... Corey
Arthur Hohl ... Grimes
Douglas Scott ... Boy
Minna Gombell ... Mabel
Billy Bevan ... Atkins
Francis Ford ... Scraps
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Proprietor
J.P. McGowan ... Helmsman
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Storyline

Captain Lovett ordered his first mate Thompson to get rid of his slave-trading crew and get a more respectable bunch for standard shipping, but when he brings his new bride Nancy aboard he finds the same old setup, including slave trade. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 August 1937 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Slaver See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Wallace Beery was notoriously abusive to the juvenile performers he worked with. For one scene in "Slave Ship" he had to slap his 16 year-old co-star Mickey Rooney in the face. Beery didn't fake the action and, without warning, slapped Rooney so hard he was knocked to the floor, spoiling the take and causing outrage among the crew. Director Tay Garnett took Beery aside and told him that everyone on the set loved Rooney, and that it would be most unfortunate if some lighting equipment were to "accidentally" fall on Beery's head. Beery got the message and behaved himself for the rest of the shoot. Interestingly, Rooney was one of the very few actors to work with Beery who later expressed no resentment towards him. He said, "Not everyone loved him the way I did." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lucky Night (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Columbia, The Gem of the Ocean
(c. 1843) (uncredited)
Music attributed to David T. Shaw
Originally arranged by Thomas A. Beckett
Arranged for the soundtrack by Edward B. Powell
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beery & Rooney Propel Shipboard Drama
21 April 2001 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

In 1860, a mutinous crew forces the captain of a former SLAVE SHIP to return to Africa for another highly profitable human cargo.

Sadly neglected, this is a film with some very good elements indeed. Stirring action, a little romance, a dose of humor and a social conscious are among its strengths. Although the opening shipyard scenes have a rather lean feel to their production values - with the sparse crowd of extras and the rear projection - once the plot moves to shipboard & Africa the film's quality kicks into high gear. The climax, with its gunplay & explosions, is especially exciting. The tying of the slaves to the anchor chain - a horrendous scene - anticipates AMISTAD by about 60 years.

The acting is quite good. Warner Baxter nicely underplays his role as the slaver captain who reforms upon marrying lovely Elizabeth Allan. Rumpled Wallace Beery as the First Mate & spunky Mickey Rooney as a disillusioned cabin boy are a great acting team and tremendous fun to watch. Beery was an actor who could steal a scene from anyone (except the late Marie Dressler), but he almost meets his match in Rooney. The Kid shows the vivacity & talent which would soon catapult him to Hollywood's top box office star.

Joseph Schildkraut scores in a flamboyant role as a foreign slave trader. Jane Darwell is funny in her few moments as Miss Allan's tough old mother. George Sanders plays a sophisticated mutineer & Edwin Maxwell is a nervous auctioneer. The massive Jane Jones is striking - literally - as a Virginia saloonkeeper who refuses to take nonsense from anyone.

In unbilled roles, movie mavens should recognize Lon Chaney, Jr. as a most unfortunate dock worker, and young Matthew `Stymie' Beard, of OUR GANG fame, as a boy on the wharf.

It is ironic, even with the film's sentiment for decent behavior towards Blacks, that 1930's Hollywood was still utterly racist and did not promote equal treatment for African-American performers (Asian actors fared little better). The Studios were still very segregated, Black & White stars rarely socialized on an equal footing, and racial stereotypes abounded in the movie plots. Only occasionally did Black performers' names appear in the credits and then usually at the bottom of the list. SLAVE SHIP preaches a good sermon, but the Hollywood congregation still needed to wake up & deal with its own intolerant behavior.


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