26 user 4 critic

Trade Winds (1938)

Not Rated | | Drama | 28 December 1938 (USA)
Kay Kerrigan commits a murder and then changes her hair color, assumes a new identity and flees the country by ship. She's unaware that she's being followed by Sam Wye, a skirt chasing ... See full summary »


Tay Garnett


Tay Garnett (story), Dorothy Parker (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 win. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Fredric March ... Sam Wye
Joan Bennett ... Kay Kerrigan
Ralph Bellamy ... Ben Blodgett
Ann Sothern ... Jean Livingstone
Sidney Blackmer ... Thomas Bruhme II
Thomas Mitchell ... Police Commissioner Blackton
Robert Elliott ... Captain George Faulkiner
Joyce Compton ... Mrs. Johnson
Richard Tucker ... John Johnson
Dorothy Comingore ... Ann (as Linda Winters)
Wilma Francis ... Judy


Kay Kerrigan commits a murder and then changes her hair color, assumes a new identity and flees the country by ship. She's unaware that she's being followed by Sam Wye, a skirt chasing detective. The two soon develop a shipboard romance. Will Sam be able to bring Kay back to the States and likely imprisonment? Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was a moderate success at the box office, earning a profit of $71,129 (over $1.2M in 2016). See more »


When Thomas is shot, he is wearing a striped robe with a bright monogram on the left breast. When we later see his body on the floor, with the police investigating, the monogram is missing. See more »


Commissioner Blackton: There's not one of you - not one - that could trail a puppy with muddy feet across a white bedspread.
See more »


Referenced in Added Attractions: The Hollywood Shorts Story (2002) See more »


When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Lyrics by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff (as George Graf, Jr.)
Music by Ernest Ball
Played by Fredric March on piano
See more »

User Reviews

Trade Winds is a Pearl
2 November 2013 | by jayraskinSee all my reviews

I guess by the negative reviews here, movie viewers have not gotten any smarter in the 75 years since this film was released. Few people can appreciate and enjoy the brilliant sophistication of this film.

First it is important to understand that censorship by the Hayes Office was at its worst in 1938. It wasn't strictly enforced before 1936 and relaxed a little bit during World World II. By the early 1950's European cinema was cracking open the Hollywood censorship open bit by bit. In 1937-38, it was perhaps at its strictest. The fact that Dorothy Parker and Tay Garnet was able to push such a sensuous and passionate movie past the Hayes Code censors is a tribute to their brilliance. Tay Garnet later directed the equally sensuous and passionate "The Postman Always Rings Twice" in 1946.

Think of the lead characters - the heroine is a murderer (even if she has her reasons) and the hero is a hard drinking, mercenary womanizer. The Hayes Code strictly forbade glamorizing such people and allowing them to go unpunished for their behavior. Yet Garnet, Parker and Alan Campbell are able to come up with characters and a plot that tie the Hayes code in knots. They are totally charming rogues.

Joan Bennett and Fredric March are amazing in the leads -- witty, charming and sophisticated. Their sidekicks, Ann Southern and Ralph Bellamy are hilarious. The plot twists are still novel and unexpected after all these years.

As for the bad process photography that reviewers are complaining about, please understand that this is a comedy. The process photography was poorly done on purpose. The film was sarcastically commenting on the overuse of process shots in Hollywood by throwing in dozens of obviously fake process shots of Japan, China, Indochina, Singapore and more. The process shots are hilarious. Complaining about the process shots is like complaining that the sets and special effects in Austin Powers don't look as believable as the ones in James Bond.

After watching this one, I'm ready to go out and party and drink a toast to Dorothy, Alan, Tay, Joan, Fredric, Ann and Ralph. Of all the screwball comedies of the 1930's, this is one of the most sophisticated and funniest. Don't miss it.

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Release Date:

28 December 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Trade Winds See more »


Box Office


$738,733 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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