Maritime Monday for September 16th, 2013: Movies About Sailors, Part III; Man the Laff Boats!

Maritime Monday - Movies About Sailors Part 3

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The Honeymoon Machine (MGM, 1961)

The Honeymoon Machine (MGM, 1961)

A few years before The Great Escape catapulted Steve McQueen to stardom, the charismatic actor played leading man, Lt. Fergie Howard, in this light romantic farce involving the computers on a Navy ship. Lt. Howard is playing poker on the good ship El Mira when he gets a brilliant idea. Why not use the ship’s computer “Max” to figure out where the ball will land on a roulette wheel? +

He hatches a harebrained scheme to break the bank at a Venice casino and hilarity ensues!

Honolulu Lu (Columbia, 1941)

Honolulu Lu (Columbia, 1941)

In Hawaii, Lupe starts off as a risque nightclub singer and with the help of a group of sailors, ends up a beauty queen. +  (more on imdb)

The Incredible Mr Limpet (Warner Brothers, 1964)

The Incredible Mr. Limpet (Warner Brothers, 1964)

Live-action/animated film starring  Don Knotts as a man named Henry Limpet who turns into a talking fish and helps the U.S. Navy locate and destroy Nazi submarines by signaling with his “thrum,” a powerful underwater roar. In his final mission, he is nearly killed when the Nazis develop a “thrum” seeking torpedo.

The Incredible Mr. Limpet

The Incredible Mr. Limpet

In the Navy (Universal, 1941)

In the Navy (Universal, 1941)

Costello plays a ship’s cook who wants to impress Patty Andrews of The Andrews Sisters. With his pal Abbott‘s help, Costello poses as an admiral — and in so doing nearly destroys the entire American fleet. more

Jack Ahoy (Gaumont British Picture Corp., 1934)

Jack Ahoy (Gaumont British Picture Corp., 1934)

British slapstick comedy favorite Jack Hulbert plays lowly seaman Jack Ponsonby, who harbors an apparently hopeless love for admiral’s daughter Patricia Frazer (Nancy O’Neil). Anxious to prove himself a hero in Patricia’s eyes, Jack gets his chance when he does battle against a whole pack of Chinese river bandits.  +

When this film was released, Hulbert was the most popular male British star at the box office.  +

John Paul Jones (Warner Brothers, 1959)

John Paul Jones (Warner Brothers, 1959)

Robert Stack stars in this sea-faring historical epic as John Paul Jones, the first great hero of the American Navy. While originally a loyal soldier of the King’s army, Jones in time becomes a fervent supporter of the American Revolutionaries, and he volunteers to lead the colonists’ ragtag fleet to impressive victories against the British Navy.

During battle against the HMS Serapis, Jones utters the deathless words “I have not yet begun to fight.”

His brave and intelligent leadership helps win America its freedom, yet his appeals to Benjamin Franklin (Charles Coburn) and the other leaders of Congress to strengthen the United States Navy fall on deaf ears. Jones is eventually branded a troublemaker and later ordered to Russia, where he helps lead the fleet of Catherine The Great, played by Bette Davis.  +

John Paul Jones

Robert Stack as John Paul Jones,
first great hero of the American Navy

In his review of the film for the New York Times, Bosley Crowther observed: “Stack performs the knotty little Scotsman as though he were a slightly dull but talkative member of a conservative gentleman’s club.”  +

The Key (Columbia, 1958)

The Key (Columbia, 1958)

1958 war film set in 1940 during the World War II Battle of the Atlantic – Adapted from Stella, a novel by Jan De Hartog. The time is WW2: The place, Plymouth England. Canadian tug captain David Ross (William Holden) and his British counterpart Chris Ford (Trevor Howard) pay a visit to Ford’s lady friend Stella (Sophia Loren). Before the men leave, Ford is handed Stella’s apartment key. It turns out that this key is harbinger of death; it has previously been held by Stella’s former lovers, all tug captains, all dead…  keep reading

The Key (1958 film) on wikipedia

Jan de Hartog (1914 – 2002) was a Dutch playwright, novelist and social critic who moved to the United States in the early 1960s. At around the age of 11, he ran away to become a cabin boy, otherwise referred to as a “sea mouse” on board a Dutch fishing boat. His father had him brought home, but shortly afterwards, Jan ran off to sea again.

Jan de HartogAt 16, he briefly attended the Netherlands Naval College. After a year, he was expelled; and told emphatically by his angry schoolmaster, “This school is not for pirates!”  (images rt)

He then worked as a coal shoveler on the night shifts with the Amsterdam Harbor Police until 1932. While employed as skipper of a tour boat on the Amsterdam Canals, he wrote several mysteries featuring Inspector Gregor Boyarski of the Amsterdam Harbor Police.

In May 1940, just ten days before Nazi Germany invaded and swiftly occupied the hitherto-neutral Netherlands, de Hartog published his book Hollands Glorie (Holland’s Glory, translated much later to English as Captain Jan).

The novel described the life of the highly skilled sailors on ocean-going tugboats, a specialized field of nautical enterprise in which the Dutch have always taken the lead. Without saying it in so many words, de Hartog portrayed the sailors—doing a difficult, dangerous and poorly rewarded job—as the modern successors to the bold navigators of the Dutch Golden Age.

more about Jan de Hartog on wikipedia

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai (Columbia, 1947)Based on the pulp novel If I Die Before I Wake by Sherwood King. *

Seaman Michael O’Hara (Welles) is hired as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy Banister (Everett Sloane). His beautiful but mysterious wife Elsa (Rita Hayworth) knows O’Hara from earlier, when he saved her from a mugging.

What transpires is a complicated and bizarre pattern of deception, fraud and murder.  +

right: Rita Hayworth as the devious Elsa Bannister, the ultimate femme fatale in Orson Welles’ film noir classic  (poster)

One of the first major Hollywood pictures almost entirely on location (in Acapulco, Pie de la Cuesta, Sausalito and San Francisco) using long takes and avoiding close-ups.

The yacht Zaca, where many scenes take place, was owned by actor Errol Flynn, who skippered the yacht in between takes, and can also be seen in the background in one scene at a cantina in Acapulco. +

Welles cast his wife Rita Hayworth as Elsa and caused controversy when he made her cut her famous long red hair and bleach it blonde for the role. The film was considered a disaster in America at the time of its release, though the closing shootout in a hall of mirrors has since become one of the touchstones of film noir.

The Lady Takes a Sailor (Warner Brothers, 1949)

The Lady Takes a Sailor (Warner Brothers, 1949)

Oceanographer Jennifer (Wyman), head of research institute, claims to have made a fascinating underwater discovery. Suspecting she’s made the claim so that her funding will be continued, the money-men send Bill Craig (Dennis Morgan) to investigate.

Disguised as a sailor, Bill accompanies Jennifer on her next expedition to see if her story is true. Jennifer falls in love with Bill, neglecting her work in the process. Eve Arden has all the best lines as Jane Wyman’s sarcastic best friend. +

The Last Detail (Columbia, 1973)

The Last Detail (Columbia, 1973)

Known for its frequent use of profanity, the film is based on a novel of the same name by Darryl Ponicsan. Studio exec Peter Guber recalls, “The first seven minutes, there were 342 ‘fucks'” The head of Columbia asked the screenwriter to reduce the number of curse words to which he responded, “This is the way people talk when they’re powerless to act; they bitch”.

U.S. Navy petty officers Billy “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Richard “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young), are awaiting orders in Norfolk, Virginia when they are assigned a shore patrol detail escorting young sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) to Portsmouth Naval Prison near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Meadows has drawn a stiff eight-year sentence for the petty crime of trying to steal $40 from a collection box of his C.O.’s wife’s favorite charity.

Randy Quaid as Larry Meadows in The Last Detail

Randy Quaid in The Last Detail (Columbia, 1973)
Black and White Stills (8)

The oddly likeable Meadows begins to grow on the two Navy “lifers” as they escort him on a train ride through the wintry north-eastern states. The pair begin to feel sorry for Meadows and the youthful experiences he will lose being incarcerated, so they decide to show him a good time before delivering him to the authorities.

The director wanted to shoot on location at the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia and the brig at Portsmouth, New Hampshire but was unable to get permission from the United States Navy. The Canadian Navy was more accommodating. With the exception of Toronto doubling as Norfolk, the production shot on location, making the same journey as the three main characters.

Otis Young as Richard “Mule” Mulhall

Otis Young as Richard “Mule” Mulhall in The Last Detail

The theatrical release of the finished cut was delayed for six months while Columbia fought over the profanity issue. Director Hal Ashby convinced Columbia to let him preview the film as it was to see how the public would react. It premiered in San Francisco and the screening was a huge success.

The Last Detail was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival and Nicholson was awarded Best Actor. The movie was ultimately nominated for three Academy Awards; Best Actor, (Nicholson) Randy Quaid for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Robert Towne for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. +

Laurel and Hardy in Two Tars (1928)

Laurel and Hardy in Two Tars (MGM, 1928)

Stanley and Oliver, two sailors on shore leave, rent a car and go on a drive with their dates, but soon get involved in a huge traffic jam with dozens of ill-tempered motorists. +  (more on allmovie)

Let's Go Navy! (Monogram, 1951)

Let’s Go Navy! (Monogram, 1951)
L: Belgian releaseR: English language one-sheet

Through an incredible series of circumstances, the Bowery Boys sign up for a hitch in the Navy. While clumsily going about the shipboard duties, Slip (Leo Gorcey), Sach (Huntz Hall) and the rest of the gang search high and low for a couple of crooks disguised in sailor suits who’ve stolen a large sum of money intended for charity.

man the laff boatsFinally collaring the villains, the Bowery Boys head to Navy headquarters for a reward–only to end up accidentally signing for another hitch at sea. +

Leo’s Gorcey’s character “Slip” was famed for his malaprops (always delivered in a Brooklyn accent), such as “a clever seduction” for “a clever deduction,” “I depreciate it!” (I appreciate it!), and “I regurgitate” (I reiterate).

VIDEO: Theatrical trailer for the 1951 Bowery Boys’ comedy, LET’S GO NAVY!

Letter to Brezhnev

Letter to Brezhnev (1985)

Set in Margaret Thatcher’s high-unemployment Cold War Liverpool, a dangerous and near hopeless city. +

Two Soviet sailors, Peter and Sergei, go ashore in Liverpool to spend one night on the town. Peter can speak a minimal amount of English but it’s enough to make contact with two Liverpudlian natives, Elaine and Theresa. Elaine and Peter immediately fall in love with each other, but the night is short and they must leave with the ship.

Elaine can’t forget him and writes a letter to Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, asking him to make it possible for them to reunite. (imdb)

Little Old New York (20th Century Fox, 1940)

Little Old New York (20th Century Fox, 1940)

In this fictionalized account of the engineer Robert Fulton, Richard Greene plays the Scottish inventor who, in 1807 arrives in New York City with the intention of building a steamboat which will accelerate transportation between the many boroughs.

Alice Faye and Fred MacMurrayEveryone laughs at “Fulton’s Folly” with the exception of gorgeous tavern keeper Pat O’Day (Alice Faye), who offers Fulton shelter and financial assistance.

This doesn’t sit at all well with Pat’s boyfriend Charles Brownne (MacMurray), who, like most of the sailors in the city, is fearful that Fulton’s steamboat will put him out of business. +

North River Steamboat is the actual name of the historic vessel upon which this film is based. +

Lock Up Your Daughters (Columbia, 1969)

Lock Up Your Daughters! (Columbia, 1969)

Based on a novel by Henry Fielding, (1707 – 1754) an English novelist and dramatist known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, who also penned Tom Jones.

Three sailors on shore leave engage in a series of comedic sexual pursuits in Lock Up Your Daughters!. Jim Dale, Ian Bannen, and Tom Bell hit dry land with one thing on their minds — something that lands everyone in jail in this comedic romp. Susannah York, Glynis Johns, and Elaine Taylor become the objects of the lovesick sailors’ alleged affections. The farcical proceedings are witnessed by Lord Foppington (Christopher Plummer), the aristocratic dandy who shudders in horror over the trouble the three salts cause in their efforts to spice up their love lives. +

Lord Jeff (MGM, 1938)

Lord Jeff (MGM, 1938)

Starring Mickey Rooney and Freddie Bartholomew, one year after release of the theme-similar Captains Courageous (1937)

Bartholomew plays Geoffrey Braemer, a basically good kid who falls in with bad company. Left holding the bag when his jewel-thief cohorts skip town, Geoffrey is saved from reform school by kindly Captain Briggs (Charles Coburn), who enrolls the boy in the Russell-Cotes Merchant Marine Training School.

At first antagonistic, Geoffrey eventually makes friends with his fellow students, especially Irish boyo Terry O’Mulvaney (Mickey Rooney). A series of misunderstandings brings disgrace upon Geoffrey, but he redeems himself when, with a little help from his shipmates, he delivers the burglars into the waiting hands of the law. +

more on wikipedia

Popeye (Paramount, 1945) Japanese

Popeye (Paramount, 1945) Japanese language release

This is more than likely a poster for a Popeye Festival in WWII Japan

Popeye trip

color, glossy photos that were used to promote Popeye cartoons in 1943

Popeye the Sailor Man is a cartoon character who has appeared in comic strips since 1929, and theatrical animated cartoons since 1933.

The comic strip was quite different from the cartoons that followed. The stories were more complex, with many characters that never appeared in the cartoons. Thanks to the animated-short series, Popeye became even more of a sensation than he had been in comic strips, and by 1938, polls showed that the sailor was Hollywood’s most popular cartoon character.

Popeye TechnicolorAfter Pearl Harbor, shorts were often World War II-themed, featuring Popeye fighting Nazis and Japanese soldiers, most notably the 1942 short You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap. By late 1943, they were being made in Technicolor. Paramount continued producing the Popeye series until 1957, with Spooky Swabs being the last of the 125 shorts in the series.

Popeye’s theme song, titled “I’m Popeye The Sailor Man“, composed by Sammy Lerner in 1933 for the first Popeye the Sailor cartoon, has become forever associated with the character.  The song has a similarity to two lines of the tune “Oh, Better Far to Live and Die“, sung by the Pirate King and chorus in Act I of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta The Pirates of Penzance: “For I am a Pirate King! (You are! Hoorah for the Pirate King!)” as well as the Sailor’s Hornpipe tune. VIDEO: Pirate King -The Pirates of Penzance

Popeye SpinachThe popularity of Popeye helped boost spinach sales. The spinach-growing community of Crystal City, Texas, erected a statue of the character in recognition of Popeye’s positive effects on the spinach industry.

more on wikipedia

See you next week!

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