Cast & Crew
At Singapore harbor, Kiddo, a singer in a dive, is warned by her lover, the brutish Captain Boynton, not to have relations with any other man while he is gone. After Boynton leaves, a drunken sailor tries to rape Kiddo, and after she smashes a water pitcher over his head, crushing his skull, she escapes to Boynton's boat. At sea, Kiddo resents Boynton's forced intimacies. When a sailor is found to have cholera, Boynton puts Kiddo ashore at the South Sea island village of Hitu-iva and orders her to keep away from the pearl divers while he is gone. Robert Dunn, a seedy American attorney, immediately tries to seduce Kiddo, but she refuses his advances. The next day, as Kiddo bathes in the nude in a lagoon, ex-marine Tom Brian, an upbeat, but conceited owner of a small pearl diving operation, taunts her. Kiddo acts indignant when Tom steals her clothes, but later acknowledges that he is a "good sort." After a servant girl at the village saloon dies from tuberculosis, Kiddo gets her job. When she receives a letter from Boynton telling her that he will return soon, she plans to leave the island, but ignores Dunn's offer to take her to Papeete. Tom, whose motto had been, "The world's my parking space; here today, gone tomorrow," now asks Kiddo to marry him. She reacts with a mixture of tears and laughter and tells Tom her past: she was kicked out of her father's house at age sixteen for staying out late and has since succumbed to men's promises up and down the coast. She spurns Tom's offer, but invites him to stay the night, which he refuses. Four days before Boynton is to return, Kiddo reads that his ship, The Southern Cross , is missing and that the crew is believed to be lost. Kiddo then marries Tom, but three months later, Dunn reports that The Southern Cross , which only ran aground, will soon return to the island. Afraid of Boynton, Kiddo asks Tom to take her back to the States, but he says he cannot leave until the fall. Kiddo joins Tom on his boat, where his diver, Jim Kekela, retrieves an oyster containing a large pearl worth $700. When Jim is attacked by an octopus, Tom rescues him. After The Southern Cross returns, Jim sees Kiddo take the pearl. Kiddo greets Boynton warmly and after telling him that he must not come ashore because there is a warrant out for his arrest for helping her escape Singapore, she gives him the pearl hoping he will leave. Dunn then tells Boynton about Kiddo's marriage. While Tom is away, Boynton enters Kiddo's window and struggles with her, until Jim comes to her rescue and stabs Boynton to death. The next day, at a hearing, Dunn tries to prove that Kiddo invited Boynton to her room and then killed him when Boynton threatened to expose her. Tom returns, but leaves the hearing in disgust when Kiddo admits she gave Boynton the pearl. Jim then confesses and Kiddo is released, but Tom refuses to listen to her pleadings. After Jim's demand to see Tom before being taken away is refused, he breaks away from his guards, and he is shot. Jim makes his way to Tom, who is about to leave, and tells what really happened. When Tom is still skeptical, Jim falsely admits stealing the pearl to sell to Boynton and says that Kiddo went to the ship to retrieve it. Jim then dies, and Tom and Kiddo are reconciled.
James F. Hanley
The working titles of this film were After the Rain, Water-Front, Trade Winds and Tropical Lady. According to a pressbook, scenes were filmed at Catalina Island, and the three-masted schooner "Metha Nelson," which was also used in Fox's 1930 production of The Sea Wolf (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.4868) and their 1931 production Seas Beneath (see below) was used in this film. Variety noted the similarities between the characters in this film and those created by W. Somerset Maugham in his short story "Miss Thompson," on which United Artists based their film Rain, released later in the year (see below), by commenting that "Kiddo" is "as near to Sadie Thompson as it is possible to get without being a duplicate, and that goes also for other characters, besides the locale and the phonograph." According to a letter in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph Breen suggested that Twentieth Century-Fox withdraw their request for a certificate of approval for re-issue in 1938 for the following reasons: "1) It is the story of a promiscuous woman who is apparently the mistress of a sea captain. 2) There is apparently a scene of a girl being attacked. 3) Various suggestive and vulgar lines."