I Cover the Waterfront


1h 10m 1933

Brief Synopsis

Reporter Joe Miller is sure that fisherman Eli Kirk smuggles illegal Chinese immigrants into the country, but can't obtain enough evidence to satisfy his editor. Chance plays into his hands in the lovely form of Kirk's daughter, Julie, whom he catches swimming in the nude and pumps for information. But she's fiercely loyal to her dad, and may be too attractive for Joe's own good. Racy pre-Code sexual situations.

Film Details

Release Date
May 17, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Reliance Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book I Cover the Waterfront by Max Miller (New York, 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Reporter H. Joseph Miller has spent five years covering the San Diego waterfront and intensely dislikes it. Hoping that he can get a job on a paper in the East and marry his Vermont sweetheart, Miller plans to break a story about the smuggling of Chinese into the country by fisherman Eli Kirk. When he is sent to investigate a girl swimming naked, Miller learns that the girl is Kirk's daughter Julie and decides to romance her to get the story. After Kirk drops a Chinese man overboard with chains around his ankles when Miller and the Coast Guard arrive to investigate, Kirk tells Julie that they will have to move on, maybe to Singapore, as soon as he gets enough money. Julie encourages Miller's flirting and, during the next two weeks, succeeds in making Miller see the beauty of the waterfront. As they fall in love, Julie inspires Miller to improve the novel he has been working on for five years. The night before Julie is to leave with her father, she sleeps over in Miller's room. At breakfast, after she announces that she is staying, Miller learns from her where Kirk is due to dock and notifies the Coast Guard. At the docks, after Miller rips open the belly of a large shark to reveal a Chinese man inside, Kirk is shot while escaping. Although Miller tells Julie that he really does love her, she sends him away. Miller locates Kirk, who shoots him in the arm. Julie arrives with a motorboat, but says she can't leave Miller to die. Although he is weak and dying, Kirk, seeing that Julie loves Miller, takes him to shore, at the risk of getting caught, so that Miller can get a doctor. Kirk then dies. When Miller recovers, he finds that Julie has moved into his room. He tells her the ending of his novel, "he marries the girl," and embraces her.

Film Details

Release Date
May 17, 1933
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Reliance Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book I Cover the Waterfront by Max Miller (New York, 1932).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 10m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Quotes

You wouldn't go for a kiss, would you?
- Joe Miller
No. Not very far.
- Julie Kirk
Men never know what the sea really looks like. Women know. When they've looked out there for years, waitin' for somebody to come back.
- Julie Kirk

Trivia

Notes

According to Harrrison's Reports, the book that was the basis of this film was Max Miller's autobiography, which covered his life as a reporter on the San Diego waterfront. Harrrison's Reports commented that the original "sketchy" story was "not suitable for a picture" and did not have the love story that was at the center of the film. This was the last film of Ernest Torrence, who died before its release. The song "I Cover the Waterfront," written by John W. Green and Edward Heyman, while not in the film, was a big hit. A film based on the same source, entitled Secret of Deep Harbor, was made in 1961 by Harvard Film Corp. and released by United Artists Corp. (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.4321).