Hell-Ship Morgan


1h 5m 1936

Brief Synopsis

After getting in a fight in a waterfront cafe over a girl, Captain Ira "Hell-Ship" Morgan (George Bancroft) hires Jim Allen (Victor Jory) and they become good friends. Morgan befriends a desperate girl, Mary Taylor (Ann Sothern), and, out of gratitude, she agrees to marry him. Morgan gives her the magnificient Callao pearl as a wedding present. But Mary and Jim fall in love and are found together one night by a sailor, and Mary is forced to give him the pearl to keep him quiet. Morgan finds out about it. A terrific storm comes up and Morgan taunts Allen into going over the side to make repairs. Allen is injured but Morgan saves his life but breaks his own back.

Film Details

Also Known As
Man Proof, Shark Bait
Release Date
Feb 8, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Synopsis

Stern sea captain Ira Morgan, better known as "Hell-Ship Morgan," commands the tuna fishing vessel the Southern Cross . Morgan always docks his boat at the San Pedro, California harbor, where, one day, a stranger refuses his invitation to a drink. After punching the man, Jim Allen, Ira learns that he is weak from hunger, and takes him aboard his boat. When the captain discovers that Jim shares his low opinion of women, the two become fast friends. Later, Morgan meets Mary Taylor, and when he learns that she too is penniless, takes her under his wing, much to the disappointment of Jim. A romance between Morgan and Mary soon blossoms, and after they are married, Morgan takes her and Jim on his next expedition. During the voyage, Jim and Mary fall in love, and the two are caught in an embrace by crew member Covanci. Covanci blackmails Mary, demanding demanding that she give him a valuable pearl that Morgan gave her to keep his silence. Later, Morgan punches the blackmailer and finds the pearl in his possession. Covanci tells the captain about his wife's affair, and when Morgan confronts Mary, she bravely confesses to having fallen in love with Jim. The confrontation is soon interrupted by a violent storm that causes damage to the ship's bowsprit. Morgan convinces Jim to go over the bow and repair the boat, but while doing so he falls into the water. Morgan succeeds in rescuing Jim, but he suffers a broken back in the process and is crippled for life. The ship survives the storm, and Mary tells her husband that she has decided to remain with him. Morgan, however, decides to commit suicide by throwing himself overboard, to be eaten by sharks.

Film Details

Also Known As
Man Proof, Shark Bait
Release Date
Feb 8, 1936
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 5m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7 reels

Articles

TCM Remembers - Ann Sothern


Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.
Tcm Remembers - Ann Sothern

TCM Remembers - Ann Sothern

Actress Ann Sothern passed away on March 15th at the age of 89. Her film career spanned sixty years and included a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for The Whales of August (1987) and several Emmy nominations for her roles in the TV shows Private Secretary (1953) and The Ann Sothern Show (1958). Sothern was born as Harriette Lake in North Dakota. She made her first film appearance in 1927 in small roles (so small, in fact, that some sources omit any films before 1929) before deciding to work on Broadway instead. Shortly afterwards she signed with Columbia Pictures where studio head Harry Cohn insisted she change her name because there were already too many actors with the last name of Lake. So "Ann" came from her mother's name Annette and "Sothern" from Shakespearean actor E.H. Sothern. For most of the 1930s she appeared in light comedies working with Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Mickey Rooney and Fredric March. However, it wasn't until she switched to MGM (after a brief period with RKO) and made the film Maisie (1939) that Sothern hit pay dirt. It proved enormously popular and led to a series of nine more films through 1947 when she moved into dramas and musicals. During the 50s, Sothern made a mark with her TV series but returned to mostly second tier movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in 1987's The Whales of August (in which, incidentally, her daughter Tisha Sterling played her at an earlier age). Turner Classic Movies plans to host a retrospective film tribute to her in July. Check back for details in June.

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Trivia

Notes

Working titles for this film were Man Proof and Shark Bait. The file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that the PCA informed Columbia in September 1935 that the first draft of the script did not conform to provisions of the Production Code concerning "sex suggestiveness" and suicide. Specifically, the Hays Office's objections to the script included the indication that "Mary is willing to prostitute herself with Morgan, and his evident acceptance of her offer," and a scene in which the character Jim makes "an indecent proposition to Mary." The Hays Office also complained about the "offensive dialogue with regard to women," and protested the fact that Morgan murders his wife's paramour without consequence. In response to the PCA's criticisms, Columbia reportedly informed the agency that it would rewrite the script, substituting the "offensive sex implications" with a "straight triangular love story," and remove the murder. An October 1935 PCA memorandum indicates that the original ending, in which Morgan kills himself in order to clear the way for Mary and Jim to resume their romance, was to be rewritten "so as to definitely indicate that Morgan's suicide is motivated by the fact that he is crippled for life and will not be able to continue his fishing career." Two weeks prior to the film's release, the Hays Office, in a letter to M-G-M protesting its use of the title Hell's Heroes for an upcoming release, wrote that although the agency was limiting the use of the word "hell" in film titles, Hell-Ship Morgan would be exempted from the rule because "hell-ship" described "a ship where cruelty toward the crew was the rule."