Maritime Monday for July 29th, 2013: Movie Guide Part III, Gobs, Gals, and Glee!

Monkey Fist
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July 28, 2013

St Louis Blues splash

part one part two

Melody Cruise

Melody Cruise
(RKO, 1933)

Melody Cruise insetIn this musical romantic comedy, bandleader and comedian Phil Harris, then in his wavy-haired romantic lead period, plays a millionaire playboy who, while on a steamship cruise, is the object of the attentions (mercenary and otherwise) of every woman he encounters.

Charlie Ruggles plays the flustered fellow whose job it is to steer Harris clear of ill-intentioned gold-diggers.  Helen Mack is the one girl who isn’t interested in either Harris’ looks or his millions, which naturally entices him to pursue her. Up-and-comer Betty Grable has a bit part as a ship’s stewardess. +

image above right


(Universal, 1976). Japanese

 The international cast of superstars includes Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, and Robert Ito

Sensurround on wikipedia

Sensurround was employed to enhance the physical sensations
of engine noise, explosions, crashes and gunfire.

The film follows two threads, one centered around the Japanese chief strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Toshiro Mifune), and the other around fictional characters, Captain Matt Garth (Charlton Heston), an American naval officer who is involved in various phases of the US planning and execution of the battle and Garth’s son (a pilot involved in the battle) who is romantically involved with an American-born daughter of Japanese immigrants, who has been interned with her parents.

Many of the action sequences used footage from earlier films.  (more)  As with many “carrier films” produced around this time, the US Navy Essex class aircraft carrier USS Lexington played the parts of both American and Japanese flattops for shipboard scenes.

Midway insetright: Japanese carrier hit by US bombs (for this scene, Midway editors used stock footage from the Japanese movie Storm Over the Pacific

The film was shot at the Terminal Island Naval Base, Los Angeles, California, the U.S. Naval Station, Long Beach, California and Pensacola, Florida. The on-board scenes were filmed in the Gulf of Mexico aboard the Lexington, the last World War II-era carrier left in service at that point. She is now a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas. +


(Paramount, 1943)

Richard Arlen plays Jim Smith, a once-reliable, but now AWOL Naval officer who has virtually destroyed his life with his chronic gambling. When Pearl Harbor is attacked, Smith finds a chance for redemption. He signs up under an assumed name as a lowly seaman, then proves that he’s still made of “the right stuff” by single handedly seeking out and destroying a new type of Japanese mine.+

view Minesweeper for free on Internet Archive

Mister Roberts

Mister Roberts
(Warner Brothers, 1955)

American CinemaScope comedy-drama film directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy, and starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, and Jack Lemmon.

Based on the 1946 novel and 1948 Broadway play, the film was nominated for the Best Picture and Best Sound Recording Oscars. Lemmon got the nod for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

The film takes place in the waning days of World War II on the fictional US Navy cargo ship Reluctant.

keep reading

Moby Dick Barrymore

 Moby Dick
(Warner Brothers, 1930)

John Barrymore portrays one of literature’s most iconic characters in this early talkie adaptation of Herman Melville’s classic novel. This was Barrymore’s second take on the Ahab character; having also starred in an earlier, silent version entitled The Sea Beast.

This film, as The Sea Beast had also been, is an extremely free adaptation of the novel. Captain Ahab is seen as a handsome, romantic hero with a pretty girlfriend. He ultimately survives the ordeal with the whale and returns home to the woman who loves him. +

Moby Dick Peck

Moby Dick
(Warner Brothers, 1956)

moby peck smPrevious film versions insisted upon including such imbecilities as romantic subplots and happy endings, Houston remained admirably faithful to the source.

Screenwriter Ray Bradbury masterfully captured the allegorical elements in the Herman Melville original without sacrificing any of the film’s entertainment value. +

Peck was initially surprised to be cast as Ahab, later commenting that he felt Huston should have played the role himself.  (inset right)

The whaling ship Pequod was portrayed by, appropriately, a ship named Moby Dick, built in England in 1887 as the Ryelands. The studio had come into possession of the vessel some time earlier, and it was first used in 1950’s Treasure Island. It ended up being destroyed by fire in England in 1972.

Orson Welles’ Father Mapple delivers a frightening sermon in a brilliant one-take cameo.  He later used the salary from this appearance to fund his own stage production of Moby Dick with Rod Steiger playing Captain Ahab. +

more: Moby Dick (1971 film), the unfinished Orson Welles version

Monkey Business

Monkey Business
(Paramount, 1931)

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo stow away on a ship bound for New York. While trying desperately to evade the ship’s crew, the brothers get involuntarily pressed into service as toughs for a pair of feuding gangsters. They send insulting notes to the captain, disrupt a chess game, and try, each in turn, to convince the Customs officer that they are Maurice Chevalier.

Monkey Business 2

Monkey Business Lobby Card

Monkey Business was a phenomenal success, and is considered one of the Marx Brothers’ greatest films. After its release, the film was banned in some countries because censors feared it would encourage anarchic behavior. The premiss of the brothers being stowaways on a ship would be recycled in their 1935 film A Night at the Opera. +

Moran of the Lady Letty

Moran of the Lady Letty
(Paramount, 1922)

The film, based on the novel of the same name by Frank Norris , casts Rudolph Valentino as a pampered aristocrat, shanghaied in San Francisco by the brutal commander of a smuggling schooner bound for Mexico. On board, he falls in love with a member of the crew who is a woman dressed as a man. +

EmbarcaderoRudy tries to conceal the girl’s identity from the lustful captain, but soon the truth is out; setting the stage for a bloody mano-y-mano battle between hero and villain.

The film was a successful attempt to cast The Latin Lover as a brawling he-man hero. +

Location shooting for part of Moran of the Lady Letty was done along the Embarcadero; the eastern waterfront and roadway portion of the Port of San Francisco.  Pier 43 can be seen in the film. +

above rt:  Pier 28 as it looked in the olden days

Mutiny on the Blackhawk

Mutiny on the Blackhawk
(Universal, 1939 – poster from 1948 re-release)

Starring who? and who?
The poster promises more than the plot summary delivers.
(original 1939 poster)

this space left blankNow, we all know what the next title would be.  But I’m not going to include it here today.  We’ve all seen it manymany times, both versions….  and nothing more can be said.
So, let’s just keep moving, shall we?

Mutiny on the Elsinore

Mutiny on the Elsinore
(Regal, 1937)

Elsinore inset British action film based on the 1914 novel The Mutiny of the Elsinore by Jack London.  (right)

Erudite novelist Jack Pathurst (Paul Lukas) has the misfortune of being a passenger on the sailing ship Elsinore when mutiny erupts. The first casualty is the captain, who is followed quickly by the first mate.

With no one else of where-with-all nor intelligence left standing, Pathurst assumes command of the vessel, persuades the mutineers to throw down their arms, and rescues the late Captain’s daughter from a grisly fate at the hands of the lusty crew. +

The IMDb plot summary sounds like a completely different movie.

see also: The Mutiny of the Elsinore (1920 silent version)
which bears no resemblance whatsoever to either described above.

Here, this will add to the confusion:

from discussion of the novel on

Elsinore sm“Miss West is never idle. Below, in the big after-room, she does her own laundering. Nor will she let the steward touch her father’s fine linen. In the main cabin she has installed a sewing-machine. All hand-stitching, and embroidering, and fancy work she does in the deck-chair beside me. She avers that she loves the sea and the atmosphere of sea-life, yet, verily, she has brought her home-things and land-things along with her–even to her pretty china for afternoon tea.”
― Jack London, Mutiny of the Elsinore

Yeah, whatever.  Knock yourself out:
The Mutiny of the Elsinore by Jack London – Free Ebook

mystery sea raider

Mystery Sea Raider
(Paramount, 1940)

International dancing sensation June McCarthy, (Carole Landis) cozies up to the wrong fellow aboard a ship on its way to New York from London.

Mystery Sea Raider insetWhen he saves her life after the ship is torpedoed by a submarine, she promises her new hero, an evasive “importer/exporter,” use of her stateside boyfriend’s extra cargo ship, which just happens to be laying around.

Not believing his luck, he transforms the vessel into a raider, kidnaps the duped hoofer, and sets out to wreak havoc on the British fleet.  Turns out dude was an undercover Nazi naval officer who now has a FREE mother ship to service U-Boats prowling the North Atlantic.

Stateside boyfriend finds out, and now he’s pissed.

IMDb goes into greater detail

Navy Blues

Navy Blues
(Warner Brothers, 1941)

Sailors Gone Wild, featuring the Navy Blues Sextet — “The Six Most Beautiful Women” as chosen by real US Navy sailors

The plot: A ship’s crew goes on leave in Honolulu, has a high old time, meets a few pretty girls, and heads back to sea. That’s all.

 Other films with the same title:

Navy Blues (1937)  available for free download at the Internet Archive

Navy Blues (1929) — romance starring William Haines as a sailor and Anita Page as the girl he leaves behind

This pleasantly innocuous comedy drama features a carefree sailor picking up innocent Alice Brown at a Ladies’ Uplift Society Dance. Their whirlwind romance ends abruptly when the girl’s mother throws the sailor out of her home because of his profession. And who can blame her for that?  more

Navy Blues 1929The early restrictions of sound filming are clearly evident. Most shots are static with some ‘left to right’ movement. Nobody wanting to miss their marks or the microphones.

The shipboard footage is interesting; with some scenes shot aboard a Clemson Class Destroyer. State of the art on paper, but already obsolete by the time they hit the water.

The Clemson-class ships were commissioned by the United States Navy from 1919 to 1922, built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, William Cramp and Sons, Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Bath Iron Works, some quite rapidly.

It was the last pre-World War II class of flush-decker destroyers to be built for the United States.  They were known colloquially as “four-stackers” or “four-pipers.” Most never saw wartime service, having been decommissioned and scrapped starting in 1930 as part of the London Naval Treaty. Nineteen of them were ultimately transferred to the Royal Navy in 1940 as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement

Those still in service at the outbreak of World War II underwent re-armament to provide better anti-aircraft protection, and use-converted into either AVD seaplane tenders, APD transports, DM minelayers, or DMS fast minesweepers. +

Miss Monkey’s father ended up on one such vessel; the USS Hamilton (DD-141), where he served as engine room Chief from 1937 through the end of the war.

New Moon

New Moon
(MGM, 1940)

The robust Sigmund Romberg operetta New Moon was given another airing in 1940 as Nelson Eddy-Jeanette MacDonald vehicle. (previous version: New Moon, 1930)

Set in 18th century Louisiana, the story details the relationship between haughty plantation owner Marianne de Beaumanoir (MacDonald) and her handsome bondservant Charles, (Eddy) who is actually a French nobleman in disguise. Charles leads his fellow bondsman in revolt, commandeering a ship and heading out to sea. The merry band end up capturing a vessel carrying Marianne and a cargo of mail-order brides.

Thank goodness the French Revolution comes along to solve everyone’s problems. More on IMDb.

Comedian Buster Keaton, whose supporting role was cut from the final release print of the picture, can still be glimpsed among the extras. + Book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein.

VIDEO (well, audio only) of songs from the film:

“Lover Come Back to Me” – Jeanette Macdonald

Nelson Eddy singing “Stout Hearted Men”


(Columbia, 1952)

Okinawa insetOkinawa is an expert combo of wartime newsreel footage and studio re-enactments. The plot concerns the gun crew of a destroyer, engaged in the torturous allied invasion of Okinawa, which cost more American and Japanese lives than any previous Pacific-Theater battle. Pat O’Brien does his usual as the ship’s commander. +

The factual story is interlaced with a fictional one dealing with the crew of an American destroyer which is assigned to the ocean “picket line” around the island of Okinawa to protect the supply ships and other forces during the battle. As such, it has the usual cast of character: the battle-weary skipper, the wise-guy, the “Kid,” the “Old Veteran”, and the brash, cigar-chewing “operator” on the ship who has cornered the entire supply of beer rations. –(IMDb)

source, poster abv rt

Old Ironsides

Old Ironsides
(Paramount, 1926)

This 11-reel silent film is set at the time of Stephen Decatur’s defeat of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli. The acting honors go to those inveterate scene-stealers Wallace Beery and George Bancroft, cast respectively as Bos’n and Gunner. Boris Karloff has a bit part as a menacing Saracen. +

Old Ironsides panels

Lobby Cards; set of 8

The film has everything from over-sized sea battles to a daring rescue from the clutches of lustful pirates. A life-sized replica of “Old Ironsides” (aka the USS Constitution) was built for the film; it remained a useful piece of bric-a-brac for many a subsequent Paramount seafaring epic.

Bounty See You


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