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Saturday, May 18, 2013

I Cover The Waterfront (1933)

An investigative reporter (Ben Lyon, HELL'S ANGELS) assigned to covering waterfront news (the city is never mentioned but it appears to be San Francisco) romances a young woman (Claudette Colbert) in order to get information on her father (Ernest Torrence) who is suspected of smuggling Chinese immigrants into the United States. One of the last of the pre-code films before the MPAA (Motion Picture Association Of America) clamped down on sex in the movies, it was movies like I COVER THE WATERFRONT that brought down the MPAA's wrath: Colbert (or her body double) goes swimming in the nude while a voyeur watches her through a telescope, later Colbert dances in a brothel while waiting for her father to finish his "business" with one of the ladies, then Colbert goes to Lyon's apartment late at night, fade to black, the next shot is them having breakfast together after her clearly having spent the night. All in all, it's an unpretentious "ripped from the headlines" programmer with a sassy Colbert showing what she could do with even the most mundane of dialogue. One can't sympathize with her loyalty to her father, however. When the Coast Guard approaches, he wraps the Chinese immigrants in chains so they'll sink and dumps them overboard. Directed by James Cruze.

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