Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

China Seas


A tramp passenger/freighter bound for Singapore, Captain Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell, Wallace Beery, Malay pirates, a typhoon complete with tilting sets, a runaway piano in the lounge and a runaway steamroller on deck, and enough water pouring over everything that Gable was in serious danger of being smashed by it all … what more could you ask? Not much, really. It’s a humdinger of a romance/action pic, with Harlow and Russell (playing the good girl for a change, and settling for fifth billing!) competing for the love of good old Clark, and Beery up to no good. Robert Benchley is there, playing a man who is dead drunk for the whole voyage. And who is that playing Harlow’s maid but Hattie McDaniel (uncredited), who would be so memorable and Oscar-worthy in four years in another little picture with Clark Gable.

Must add a footnote here. I don’t usually look at the message boards at the IMDb, but for some reason one topic (oops!?) lured me in. It turns out someone claimed that Jean Harlow had had a “wardrobe malfunction” during a scene with Wallace Beery. Someone even mentioned where it is, at the 49th minute. Well, who could resist? I zipped back to that point and watched the scene, and sure enough, when he shoves her against the dresser the strap from her loose, skimpy dress falls down to her elbow and there is about a half-second flash of something they weren’t supposed to show in 1935. Take it frame by frame and you can see clearly that … well, of course I took it frame by frame. I’m a movie lover and a skilled researcher, it’s my job to look into these things! Over, and over, and over …