The Captain Hates the Sea


1h 24m 1934
The Captain Hates the Sea

Brief Synopsis

A bond thief, a private eye and a drunken reporter wreak havoc on an ocean voyage.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Adventure
Release Date
Nov 30, 1934
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 28 Nov 1934
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Captain Hates the Sea by Wallace Smith (Davison, MI, 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,639ft

Synopsis

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.

Cast

Victor Mclaglen

[Junius P.] Schulte

Wynne Gibson

Mrs. Jeddock

Alison Skipworth

Mrs. [Yolanda] Magruder

John Gilbert

Steve Bramley

Helen Vinson

Janet Grayson [also known as Blanche Ditworthy, or "Michigan Red]

Fred Keating

Danny Checkett [also known as "Fairaday"]

Leon Errol

Layton

Walter Connolly

Captain Helquist

Tala Birell

Gerta Klangi

Walter Catlett

Joe Silvers

John Wray

Mr. Jedock

Claude Gillingwater

Judge Griswald

Emily Fitzroy

Mrs. Griswald

Geneva Mitchell

Miss Hackson

Donald Meek

Josephus Bushmills

Luis Alberni

Juan Gilboa

Arthur Treacher

Major Waringforth

Inez Courtney

Flo

The Three Stooges

Orchestra

G. Pat Collins

Donlin

Dell Henderson

Mr. Holman

George Andre Beranger

Jeweler

George Humbert

Head barber

Frank Conroy

State's attorney

Mathew Betz

Gus

Frederic Howard

Reporter

Fredric Santly

Reporter

James Blakeley

Pinky

Mike Morita

Sato

Tamara Shayne

General's wife

Serge Temoff

Mexican captain

Lowden Adams

First butler

Pietro Sosso

Butler

Emmett Vogan

Ship's doctor

Harry Holman

Passenger

Harry Dunkinson

Passenger

Harrison Greene

Passenger

Gladys Gale

Passenger's wife

Maude Truax

Passenger's wife

Isabelle La Mal

Passenger's wife

Edmund Burns

Assistant jeweler

James Farley

Conductor

Gladden James

Clerk

Budd Fine

Keeper

A. R. Haysel

Detective

Charles Hickman

Pilot

Raymond Turner

Sam

Joe Dominguez

Sergeant

Charles Moore

Train porter

Harry Tenbrook

Taxi driver

Charles Sullivan

Taxi driver

Charles King

Taxi driver

Monte Carter

Barber

Franco Corsaro

Officer

Robert Canterio

Officer

Captain Fernando Garcia

Officer

Heinie Conklin

Assistant bartender

B. B. Creary

Quartermaster

Eddie Baker

Purser

Abdullah Abbas

Felix

Frank Walsh

Sailor

Buddy Mason

Sailor

Harry Wilson

Sailor

Blackie Whiteford

Sailor

Ray Spiker

Sailor

Max Wagner

Sailor

Lew Davis

Deck steward

Fred Watt

Deck steward

Sam Tong

Sin Kee

Tony Casten

Mong

Sam Rice Jr.

Newsboy

George Villasenor

Andrecito

Roger Gray

Sidney D'albrook

Ernie Alexander

Art Berry

Bluma Crockin

Gladys Meyers

Ciel Duncan

Sharon O'farrell

Margaret Gray

Doris Campbell

Marian Montgomery

Leota Lorraine

Jean Castle

Marian Bardell

Helen Splane

Bea Nigro

Diane Dahl

Lagreta

Mimi Lawler

Patricia Royale

Joan Dix

Jean Fowler

Vera Steadman

Betty Oreck

Ethel Bryant

Lucille De Never

John C. Fowler

Clive Morgan

Edmund Mortimer

Bert Morehouse

Harris Gordon

Robert Allen

Otto Gervice

James Carlyle

Sammy Finn

J. L. Lindsey

Fred Williams

John Sylvester

Tom London

Carlton E. Griffin

George Nardelli

Jay Eaton

Carl Leviness

Elmer Serrano

Videos

Movie Clip

Captain Hates The Sea, The (1934) - Down To The Sea In Ships Opening with extensive use of a real ocean liner, which director Lewis Milestone persuaded Columbia studio boss Harry Cohn to spring-for, we meet Walter Connolly in the title role, Frederic Howard and Fredric Santly his audience, Leon Errol the steward, in the all-star comic-melodrama, The Captain Hates The Sea, 1934, with Victor McLaglen and John Gilbert.
Captain Hates The Sea, The (1934) - Could I Slit Your Throat And Love It? We discover here that Fred Keating (as thief Danny) is actually in league with Helen Vinson (posing as Janet, a librarian) over the stolen bonds, Victor McLaglen the friendly private eye Schulte, Alison Skipworth as Mrs Magruder, buying drinks for Wynne Gibson as reformed party girl “Goldie,” John Wray her indignant husband, John Gilbert her ex-pal Steve, Walter Catlett the barkeep Joe, in The Captain Hates The Sea, 1934.
Captain Hates The Sea, The (1934) - To Part Is To Die A Little Just away from Los Angeles, Akim Tamiroff as Salazaro misses his family, with new shipmates, John Gilbert as ex-reporter Steve, Victor McLaglen as gumshoe Schulte, who, while Helen Vinson introduces herself, predicts that their other pal, Danny (Fred Keating), his suspect in a big bond theft, will turn up, in The Captain Hates The Sea, 1934.
Captain Hates The Sea, The (1934) - I Haven't Got Any Trunks Introducing Tala Birell as Gert, Inez Courtney as friend Flo, Raymond Turner the chauffeur but mainly John Gilbert as Steve, leaving LA by ship, with problems not unlike Gilbert’s own at the time, his first appearance in his last feature, in a role won for him by his friend, the director Lewis Milestone, in The Captain Hates The Sea, 1934.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Adventure
Release Date
Nov 30, 1934
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 28 Nov 1934
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Captain Hates the Sea by Wallace Smith (Davison, MI, 1933).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,639ft

Articles

The Captain Hates the Sea


Compared by critics to Grand Hotel (1932) at the time of its release, The Captain Hates the Sea (1934) was an ambitious, big-budget (for Columbia Pictures) comedy that showcases a number of the studio's better character actors. Wallace Smith's original 1933 novel seems written with exactly this kind of film in mind; one of the book reviewers for the New York Times wrote: "Those who like the Hollywood style of sophisticated frivolity will find the book entertaining." John Gilbert, in his final screen role before his untimely death at the age of 41, plays an alcoholic writer who goes on a cruise to stop drinking and to finish writing a book. The captain is played by Walter Connolly, a much admired character actor who appeared in some of the best comedies of the Thirties, including It Happened One Night (1934), Twentieth Century (1934), Libeled Lady (1936) and Nothing Sacred (1937). The underrated Akim Tamiroff plays a Latin American general, Victor McLaglen plays a private detective, and Leon Errol is memorable as Layton, the constantly tippling head steward. The Three Stooges, who had just signed on with Columbia, appear as musicians on the ship.

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).
BW-84m.

by James Steffen

Sources:
"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

The Captain Hates the Sea

Compared by critics to Grand Hotel (1932) at the time of its release, The Captain Hates the Sea (1934) was an ambitious, big-budget (for Columbia Pictures) comedy that showcases a number of the studio's better character actors. Wallace Smith's original 1933 novel seems written with exactly this kind of film in mind; one of the book reviewers for the New York Times wrote: "Those who like the Hollywood style of sophisticated frivolity will find the book entertaining." John Gilbert, in his final screen role before his untimely death at the age of 41, plays an alcoholic writer who goes on a cruise to stop drinking and to finish writing a book. The captain is played by Walter Connolly, a much admired character actor who appeared in some of the best comedies of the Thirties, including It Happened One Night (1934), Twentieth Century (1934), Libeled Lady (1936) and Nothing Sacred (1937). The underrated Akim Tamiroff plays a Latin American general, Victor McLaglen plays a private detective, and Leon Errol is memorable as Layton, the constantly tippling head steward. The Three Stooges, who had just signed on with Columbia, appear as musicians on the ship. 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). BW-84m. by James Steffen Sources: "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.

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

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.