Review: ‘China Seas’

This is a story of love - sordid and otherwise - of piracy and violence and heroism on a passenger boat run from Shanghai to Singapore [from a novel by Crosbie Garstin]. Clark Gable is a valiant sea captain, Wallace Beery a villainous pirate boss, and Jean Harlow a blond trollop who motivates the romance and most of the action. All do their jobs expertly.

This is a story of love – sordid and otherwise – of piracy and violence and heroism on a passenger boat run from Shanghai to Singapore [from a novel by Crosbie Garstin]. Clark Gable is a valiant sea captain, Wallace Beery a villainous pirate boss, and Jean Harlow a blond trollop who motivates the romance and most of the action. All do their jobs expertly.

Harlow is crossed in love when Gable, who has been her sweatheart in a sort of sparring partner but true-love affair, is tempted to return to English aristocracy. Temptation arrives in the form of the refined Rosalind Russell, a home town acquaintance. The social gap between Harlow and Rosalind touches off the fireworks.

Spurned by Gable, Harlow seeks to get hunk by slipping Beery the key to the ship’s arsenal which makes it a cinch for the raiding pirates. But the raid fails, for Gable refuses to reveal the hiding place of a cargo of gold.

The pirate raid and its unsuccessful termination (for the pirates) is full of shooting, suspense and action. Add a running atmosphere of suspense through the picture, and there’s plenty of excitement.

China Seas

Production

M-G-M. Director Tay Garnett; Producer Irving G. Thalberg, Albert Lewin; Screenplay Jules Furthman, James Kevin McGuinness; Camera Ray June; Editor William Levanway; Music Herbert Stothart

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 87 MIN.

With

Clark Gable Jean Harlow Wallace Beery Rosalind Russell Lewis Stone Dudley Digges
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