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Saturday, March 24, 2012

China Seas (1935)

On a passenger ship bound from Hong Kong to Singapore, the ship's captain (Clark Gable) is pursued by a brassy blonde (Jean Harlow) and an elegant English lady (Rosalind Russell). But before they reach their destination, they must deal with a deadly typhoon at sea as well as pirates who plunder the ship for its precious cargo and passengers of their possessions. This lavish sea adventure gets the deluxe treatment from the MGM production department and it defines the classy MGM style of the 1930s era. The storm at sea is a real corker and has a realistic feel that no computer generated images can equal. As they proved in RED DUST, Gable and Harlow have a chemistry that crackles and it's just as strong here. It's a lively and amusing wisecracking roundelay in between the film's action set pieces. Directed by Tay Garnett (THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE) from a screenplay by Jules Furthman (THE BIG SLEEP). With Wallace Beery as the film's amiable villain, Lewis Stone, C. Aubrey Smith, Akim Tamiroff, Lilian Bond, Edward Brophy and Hattie McDaniel, looking a bit more glamorous than usual as Harlow's feather and spangles loving maid. When Harlow gives her one of the sequined gowns she's grown tired of, McDaniel quips, "I may have to let this out a bit".

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