Cast & Crew
As passengers board the cruise ship San Capador , its captain, Helquist, tells a group of reporters how much he hates the sea, and that he only became a sailor to escape his father. He also informs the reporters that, in the case of an accident, he plans to be the first man in a lifeboat, having no intentions of "going down with the ship." Newspaperman Steve Bramley arrives at the dock, delivered there by his fiancée, Gerta Klangi. Steve is leaving Hollywood, where he has failed as a screenwriter, to go back to New York, in the hope of both writing a book, and giving up the bottle. Once aboard the ship, Steve runs into his old drinking buddy, Layton, the ship's chief steward. They are soon joined by another old friend, private detective Junius P. Schulte, who is aboard the ship in search of $250,000 in stolen bonds. Just after the ship leaves the dock, the pilot ship pulls alongside, and notorious crook Danny Checkett boards the cruise ship, under the name "Fairaday." He is immediately greeted by Schulte, who asks him to hand over the bonds. Danny declares his innocence, and their game of "hide-and-seek" begins. Also aboard the cruise ship are Mr. and Mrs. Jeddock, a seemingly distinguished couple; Mrs. Yolanda Magruder, a feisty rich widow; General Salazaro, a revolutionary; and Bostonian Janet Grayson, a librarian on vacation. At dinner that night, Danny and Schulte both vie for Janet's attention. Afterward, Steve goes back to his room, where he finds a phonograph record of Gerta, in which she proclaims her love and belief in him. Despite her encouragement, Steve immediately "falls off the wagon," and soon becomes a close friend of the head bartender. When Steve sees Mrs. Jeddock for the first time, he recognizes her as an old prostitute he knew under the name "Goldie." Mr. Jeddock is so upset by this that he attacks Steve, but the writer, though intoxicated, still beats the hapless husband to the punch. Later, when Danny is alone with Janet, their true relationship is disclosed: they are actually accomplices, engaged to be married. While Danny is pleased that Janet has attracted the attention of Schulte, he, in turn, is being pursued by the elder Mrs. Magruder. Janet, thinking that Schulte is completely taken by her, hides the stolen bonds in the detective's cabin. Schulte, however, is on to her, knowing that her real name is Blanche Ditworthy, and is otherwise known as "Michigan Red." Layton discovers the truth about Danny and Janet, and blackmails the crooks to keep their secret from Schulte. After four days at sea, Salazaro is greeted with a hero's welcome by his old friend Juan Gilboa when the ship docks in his country. The other passengers are shocked to learn, a bit later, that Salazaro has been executed by a firing squad, as his revolutionary group had been defeated prior to his arrival. Back at sea, Schulte proposes marriage to Janet, and she accepts as part of her ruse. As Schulte announces their engagement, the band plays "The Wedding March," just as the Jeddock's arrive in the dining room. Mr. Jeddock explodes at the group, thinking that the song is a snide comment on his wife's past, and is taken away by the ship's crew, who throw him in the brig. Mrs. Jeddock then attempts suicide by jumping off the ship, but both Danny and Schulte jump to her rescue. Janet goes to Schulte to tell him the truth, only to discover that he knows all, having found the bonds, yet still wishes to marry her. As the ship arrives in New York, Mr. and Mrs. Jeddock are reunited in the captain's quarters, where Mrs. Jeddock gives her husband a piece of her mind, as well as part of a blackjack. At the dock, Danny, who realizes that he has lost both Janet and the bonds, renews his acquaintance with the rich Mrs. Magruder, whom, he learns, is worth $7,000,000. Schulte gives his business card to Janet, and tells her to meet him there, which she does. Finally, Steve leaves the ship, in no better condition than he boarded, only to be met by Gerta. Though she realizes he has lost yet another battle with the bottle, she accepts him back in her arms, and they drive away.
The Three Stooges
G. Pat Collins
George Andre Beranger
Isabelle La Mal
A. R. Haysel
Captain Fernando Garcia
B. B. Creary
Sam Rice Jr.
Lucille De Never
John C. Fowler
J. L. Lindsey
Carlton E. Griffin
The Captain Hates the Sea
The Captain Hates the Sea was Gilbert's sole picture for Columbia. At MGM, he had been stuck in an unsatisfactory contract and had a well-publicized history of conflict with Louis B. Mayer, who honored the contract on paper but otherwise impeded Gilbert's career. At Greta Garbo's insistence, he returned as her love interest in Queen Christina (1933), but his other films during this period hardly helped his star image. Unfortunately, Queen Christina also failed to earn the box office returns that the studio expected. The frustrated Gilbert took out a full page ad in the Hollywood Reporter saying: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will neither offer me work nor release me from my contract. --Jack Gilbert."
Now that the MGM contract was over, Gilbert had difficulty finding new roles, as he stated openly in an interview for Movie Classic: "Today I can't get a job for $25 a week or for nothing at all. It doesn't make sense, but there it is." In response, the director Lewis Milestone convinced Harry Cohn at Columbia to let Gilbert test for a role in his new project, The Captain Hates the Sea. Milestone recalls that by that point Gilbert lacked confidence due to his career troubles and only agreed to shoot a screen test with no more than a few crew members present in the studio.
The production proved to be very costly, due in part to the need to rent an actual ship for the shoot and sail it off the California coast. It didn't help that the cast was full of legendary drinkers, including Gilbert, Walter Connolly, Walter Catlett, Fred Keating, Leon Errol and Victor McLaglen. According to Milestone, at one point Cohn wired him: HURRY UP. THE COSTS ARE STAGGERING. To which Milestone wired back: SO IS THE CAST. In one of this letters to his wife, the novelist and RAF Major Eric Knight mentioned that during a conversation with Joseph Breen, Breen told him that Harry Cohn complained, "Mr. Breen, if I should ever send you a script what's got a ship in it--even so much as a rowboat, you should please, for my sake, say it's immoral and ban it."
Although The Captain Hates the Sea was not a success at the box office, Variety praised it for its "thoroughly competent and well chosen cast, smart direction and a fine sense of comedy values."
Producer: Lewis Milestone
Director: Lewis Milestone
Screenplay: Wallace Smith, based on his novel
Photography: Joseph H. August
Film Editor: Gene Milford
Cast: Victor McLaglen (Junius P. Schulte), Wynne Gibson (Mrs. Jeddock), Alison Skipworth (Mrs. Magruder), John Gilbert (Steve Bramley), Helen Vinson (Janet Grayson/Michigan Red), Fred Keating (Danny Checkett), Leon Errol (Layton), Walter Connolly (Captain Helquist), Tala Birell (Gerta Klargi), Walter Catlett (Joe Silvers), John Wray (Mr. Jeddock).
by James Steffen
"A Voyage Out." [Book review of The Captain Hates the Sea.] New York Times. March 26, 1933.
"The Captain Hates the Sea." [Film review.] Variety, December 11, 1934.
Fountain, Leatrice Gilbert, with John R. Maxim. Dark Star. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.
Gehman, Geoff. Down But Not Out in Holly-weird: a Documentary in Letters of Eric Knight. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998.
The Captain Hates the Sea
According to Motion Picture Herald, the running time of the film at its press preview was 103 min., with the understanding that further cutting would be done. Film Daily reported that Florence Rice was originally cast in the role of Janet Grayson, but was forced to leave the film due to a sudden illness. According to a Daily Variety news item, assistant director Nate Watt testified at a National Labor Relations Board investigation in 1938 that he directed the mob scenes in this film; the investigation was concerned with the question of whether assistant directors were ever called on to direct scenes. This was the final film of star John Gilbert, whose career waned during the early sound era. Modern sources state that director Lewis Milestone fought with studio boss Harry Cohn over the casting of Gilbert in the role of the alcoholic writer, as the actor himself suffered from the same illness. Once production began, Milestone stated that filming was constantly delayed by the drinking of not only Gilbert, but that of other cast members Victor McLaglen, Leon Errol, Walter Catlett and Walter Connolly. When Cohn learned of the escalating costs, he telegrammed Milestone: "Hurry up. The costs are staggering." Milestone purportedly replied, "So is the cast." Modern sources also indicate that the film was partially shot on location at San Pedro Harbor, California.