Barnacle Bill


1h 38m 1941
Barnacle Bill

Brief Synopsis

A fishing boat captain searches for romance in hopes of improving his financial picture.

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Film Details

Also Known As
Lazybones
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jul 4, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Fish Harbor, California, United States; San Pedro Harbor, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,292ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

Perpetually broke skipper Bill Johansen docks his small craft in San Pedro, agitating ship's store owner "Pop" Cavendish and his daughter Marge, who is fond of Bill, even though he has owed them money for years. Pop tries to have Bill's boat attached, but cannot because Bill has registered the boat in the name of his daughter Virginia, whom he has not seen since infancy. Meanwhile, refrigerator boat-owner John Kelly intimidates local fishermen into accepting only five cents a pound for tuna. Marge thinks Bill is just the man to fight Kelly, but Bill would rather fish for swordfish with his friend, Pico Rodriguez. On the same day that Bill loses his swordfish money to saloon girl Mamie, twelve-year-old Virginia, whose mother is dead, arrives from Gloucester, Massachusetts with her aunt, Letty Breckenridge. Virginia asks to stay with Bill, even though Letty thinks he is an unfit father. Bill likes Virginia, but doesn't want the responsibility of a child, so he convinces Marge to let her live on shore with her. Virginia and the kindhearted Marge then decide to start to "work" on Bill. On Sunday, Bill goes to church with them, but later shows up drunk for supper. Virginia then talks to Bill and tells him about the death of her maternal grandfather, a well-known Gloucester captain, and Bill decides to get a job. Bill and Pico sail on Joe Petillo's tuna boat, and a month later, Bill happily returns to find that Virginia and Marge have fixed his ramshackle boat. When Bill goes to collect his pay, however, he gets much less than expected and Petillo suspects that Kelly has been improperly weighing the catch. Bill then confronts Kelly's man Dixon, who offers Bill $150 to keep his "big mouth" shut. Bill is happy to take the money until Virginia proudly leads the other men to see his confrontation and Bill must refuse the money and fight Dixon to save face. Now a hero, Bill gets drunk in celebration and wakes up just before the sinking of his boat, which secretly had its seacocks opened by Kelly's men. As he and Pico are working to raise the boat, Virginia sees that their "dream" schooner is on the auction block and offers the highest bid at a fraction of the boat's actual worth. Bill uses his fishing money for a deposit and has ten days to pay off the $2,500 balance. Bill, who wants to sail with Pico to the South Seas, sweet-talks Marge into giving him the money by intimating that he might be interested in getting married. Although Bill almost loses the money to Mamie again, Marge jealousy fights her and throws him out of the saloon. The next day, Petillo and other fishermen suggest that they help finance Bill so that he can turn the schooner into a refrigerator boat. Bill pretends to love the idea, but secretly accepts bribe money from Kelly not to compete and has South Seas provisions delivered that night. When Virginia sees what is happening, she is disillusioned and calls Aunt Letty to take her home. When Marge finds out, she tells Bill, and he decides to go through with Petillo's idea. Pop, Pico and stowaway Marge then sail with Bill, who gives Kelly his money back. The voyage goes smoothly until one night, when Kelly and his men sneak aboard and open the seacocks to sink the boat. Bill's "crew" successfully fight Kelly and soon dock in San Pedro after successfully navigating a bad storm. Virginia is happily waiting and Bill and the suddenly bashful Marge marry.

Film Details

Also Known As
Lazybones
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Jul 4, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Fish Harbor, California, United States; San Pedro Harbor, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,292ft (10 reels)

Articles

Barnacle Bill


Of all the actors who started their career in the silent era, Wallace Beery wins for sheer chameleonic longevity. His long slow morph from handsome young comic (or villain, as the script demanded) in the silent era, to lumpen, crass character actor by the 1940s remains unique. (The way every one of his co-stars, from Robert Young to Margaret O'Brien, violently hated him after working with him was also unique.) He and Marie Dressler made a successful comic team in movies like Tugboat Annie (1933), but after Dressler's death MGM needed a new female foil for Beery. Marjorie Main of "Ma Kettle" fame was not thrilled to hear she'd been selected to co-star in this tale of a wayward skipper (Beery) and his rocky romance with the local store owner's daughter (Main), since she and Beery had worked together in Wyoming (1940) and hated each other. (Her by-the-book professionalism (and teetotaling) clashed with Beery's improvisations, coarse tongue, and heavy drinking.) But Louis B. Mayer thought they were great together and signed Main and Beery to a seven-picture deal, beginning with Jackass Mail (1942).

By Violet LeVoit
Barnacle Bill

Barnacle Bill

Of all the actors who started their career in the silent era, Wallace Beery wins for sheer chameleonic longevity. His long slow morph from handsome young comic (or villain, as the script demanded) in the silent era, to lumpen, crass character actor by the 1940s remains unique. (The way every one of his co-stars, from Robert Young to Margaret O'Brien, violently hated him after working with him was also unique.) He and Marie Dressler made a successful comic team in movies like Tugboat Annie (1933), but after Dressler's death MGM needed a new female foil for Beery. Marjorie Main of "Ma Kettle" fame was not thrilled to hear she'd been selected to co-star in this tale of a wayward skipper (Beery) and his rocky romance with the local store owner's daughter (Main), since she and Beery had worked together in Wyoming (1940) and hated each other. (Her by-the-book professionalism (and teetotaling) clashed with Beery's improvisations, coarse tongue, and heavy drinking.) But Louis B. Mayer thought they were great together and signed Main and Beery to a seven-picture deal, beginning with Jackass Mail (1942). By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Lazybones. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, this film was at one time intended as a vehicle for child actress Shirley Temple, who had recently left Twentieth Century-Fox and was put under contract to M-G-M. Temple was replaced by Virginia Weidler and did not make her M-G-M debut until November 1941, with the release of Kathleen (see below). A Hollywood Reporter news item on April 1, 1941 noted that actor Charles Ruggles was to appear in the film if he completed his role in Paramount's The Parson of Panamint on time (see below). Ruggles May have been intended for the role taken over by Donald Meek, "Pop" Cavendish.
       News items also note that portions of the film were shot on location in San Pedro Harbor and Fish Harbor, in Southern California, as well as other, unnamed locations on the "lower California coast." According to a April 22, 1941 Hollywood Reporter news item, the Luckenbach freighter Stacy Day was used for three days while the crew was shooting in San Pedro Harbor. Wallace Beery and Marjorie Main recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on April 1, 1946. The program co-starred Beery's daughter Carole Ann in the role of "Virginia."