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Set sail on "China Seas" tonight at 9:30.


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I've gone on before extolling the virtues of this film, but what's one more time?

 

For those of you who haven't seen it before- please do try to check out "China Seas" tonight (it's one of Bob's picks) at 9:30. (East Coast USA, i can't speak for the rest of the country or Canada.)

 

a 1935 MGM picture reteaming Clark Gable and Jean Harlow with Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, Robert Benchley, Rosalind Russell and Hattie McDaniel (in a rare good role) also along for the ride. It's kind of a take off on those elaborate exotic Joseph von Sternberg-Marlene Dietrich Paramount collaborations like "Shanghai Express"...only a little less exotic and more down to earth...and with a dash of "Grand Hotel" thrown in.

 

Fast-paced, compelling, often funny as hell and a grand collection of character actors: it is one of the most distinctly hallmarked films of the era: encapsulating so much of what made 1930s cinema what it was in its hour and a half run time.

 

just a terrific movie that even Maltin (or whoever was writing for the film guide that day) admits in his review is "impossible to dislike."

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I've gone on before extolling the virtues of this film, but what's one more time?

 

For those of you who haven't seen it before- please do try to check out "China Seas" tonight (it's one of Bob's picks) at 9:30. (East Coast USA, i can't speak for the rest of the country or Canada.)

 

a 1935 MGM picture reteaming Clark Gable and Jean Harlow with Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, Robert Benchley, Rosalind Russell and Hattie McDaniel (in a rare good role) also along for the ride. It's kind of a take off on those elaborate exotic Joseph von Sternberg-Marlene Dietrich Paramount collaborations like "Shanghai Express"...only a little less exotic and more down to earth...and with a dash of "Grand Hotel" thrown in.

 

Fast-paced, compelling, often funny as hell and a grand collection of character actors: it is one of the most distinctly hallmarked films of the era: encapsulating so much of what made 1930s cinema what it was in its hour and a half run time.

 

just a terrific movie that even Maltin (or whoever was writing for the film guide that day) admits in his review is "impossible to dislike."

A terrific movie with terrific stars that I never tire of watching.  I'm in tonight 100%.  Good thing we have two TV's as my wife (a true basketball nut) says she wants to watch the Utah Jazz play.  Jazz vs. Harlow/Gable is 100% movie for me.  Some times I think my wife needs her head re-straightened and cinched down tighter.  If Gable/Harlow is on and my good wife doesn't want to watch the flames that result then I think she should have her woman-card revoked.

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A terrific movie with terrific stars that I never tire of watching.  I'm in tonight 100%.  Good thing we have two TV's as my wife (a true basketball nut) says she wants to watch the Utah Jazz play.  Jazz vs. Harlow/Gable is 100% movie for me.  Some times I think my wife needs her head re-straightened and cinched down tighter.  If Gable/Harlow is on and my good wife doesn't want to watch the flames that result then I think she should have her woman-card revoked.

saw it once and did not like it. Gable's "acting" modus operandi is getting mad at Harlow. did the same thing to colbert in it happened one night.

Gable's acting is getting mad, usually at a woman towards the end of a film like vivien leigh in GWTW.

1935's motb excepted of course. that one he gets mad at charles laughton. :lol:

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saw it once and did not like it. Gable's "acting" modus operandi is getting mad at Harlow. did the same thing to colbert in it happened one night.

Gable's acting is getting mad, usually at a woman towards the end of a film like vivien leigh in GWTW.

1935's motb excepted of course. that one he gets mad at charles laughton. :lol:

hey, in band of angels he gets mad at yvonne de carlo. :)

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A terrific movie with terrific stars that I never tire of watching. I'm in tonight 100%. Good thing we have two TV's as my wife (a true basketball nut) says she wants to watch the Utah Jazz play. Jazz vs. Harlow/Gable is 100% movie for me. Some times I think my wife needs her head re-straightened and cinched down tighter. If Gable/Harlow is on and my good wife doesn't want to watch the flames that result then I think she should have her woman-card revoked.

thanks for bumping the thread up (and for reshaping some of our notions of gender identity as well.) I'm not sure if your wife is a big fan of college basketball, but if she is: sit her down in front of YouTube and have her watch John Oliver's take on the NCAA from his HBO show.

 

It's really, really eye opening, wish I could post the video clip here but I'm using my phone

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thanks for bumping the thread up (and for reshaping some of our notions of gender identity as well.) I'm not sure if your wife is a big fan of college basketball, but if she is: sit her down in front of YouTube and have her watch John Oliver's take on the NCAA from his HBO show.

 

It's really, really eye opening, wish I could post the video clip here but I'm using my phone

I'll tell her and yes she is a big college b-ball fan.  My wife is the most fanatic female sports fan I've ever met.  Very few men are her equal.  She's a girl's volleyball ref when it's in season.  Me, I love baseball and football but basketball bores me.  Give me Harlow though and I'm on fire.  My wife just isn't much of a movie buff I'm afraid compared to me.

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I've gone on before extolling the virtues of this film, but what's one more time?

For those of you who haven't seen it before- please do try to check out "China Seas" tonight (it's one of Bob's picks) at 9:30. (East Coast USA, i can't speak for the rest of the country or Canada.)

a 1935 MGM picture reteaming Clark Gable and Jean Harlow with Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone, Robert Benchley, Rosalind Russell and Hattie McDaniel (in a rare good role) also along for the ride. It's kind of a take off on those elaborate exotic Joseph von Sternberg-Marlene Dietrich Paramount collaborations like "Shanghai Express"...only a little less exotic and more down to earth...and with a dash of "Grand Hotel" thrown in.

Fast-paced, compelling, often funny as hell and a grand collection of character actors: it is one of the most distinctly hallmarked films of the era: encapsulating so much of what made 1930s cinema what it was in its hour and a half run time.

just a terrific movie that even Maltin (or whoever was writing for the film guide that day) admits in his review is "impossible to dislike."

CHINA SEAS is a thoroughly enjoyable potboiler. It was perhaps the best and most successful reteaming of Gable and Harlow since RED DUST, probably because it hewed most closely to some of RED DUST's elements than did the interim comedies featuring this team: foreign intrigue and melodrama in an exotic tropical locale; Clark and Harlow sparring and sparking with much sexual heat, while Gable chases the prim upper class miss before coming to his senses. An outstanding cast of top stars and supporting players, plus plenty of humor and snappy dialogue.....great fun whether seen for the first or fortieth time.

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CHINA SEAS is a thoroughly enjoyable potboiler. It was perhaps the best and most successful reteaming of Gable and Harlow since RED DUST, probably because it hewed most closely to some of RED DUST's elements than did the interim comedies featuring this team: foreign intrigue and melodrama in an exotic tropical locale; Clark and Harlow sparring and sparking with much sexual heat, while Gable chases the prim upper class miss before coming to his senses. An outstanding cast of top stars and supporting players, plus plenty of humor and snappy dialogue.....great fun whether seen for the first or fortieth time.

What an exquisite review.

 

the only thing I'll expound on is that, yes, while the basic structure is a bit like "Red Dust", "China Seas" is a much richer film with a lot more going on. in fact, it's all the various stories going on with the supporting players that makes the film for me.

 

I really enjoy a lot of the ensemble films of the 1930s, often centered around travelers, that show a bunch of disperate people of disparate backgrounds thrown together in a common setting often facing challenge or some form of peril. I know this type of film has been made since then, but there is something about the ones that were made in the thirties that are really groundbreaking to me (I guess with the onset of sound and the changing timesn they're especially groundbreaking in their sociological studies)

 

"China Seas" also has a rather pre-code sensibility and some of the dialogue is laced with innuendo. it is definitely a film I would show to anyone interested in classic movies and especially to any aspiring screenwriters as a great example of a really layered story well done.

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Tay Garnett seems to have been the go-to director for romances set in the South Seas and other exotic locales. In addition to China Seas, he directed Seven Sinners, Trade Winds, Slave Ship, and my favorite, One Way Passage. A festival of his shipboard-related films would make interesting TCM programming.

 

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according to the AFI Film Database: "China Seas" was based on the 1930 novel in which the character of China Doll is actually an Asian woman.

 

she also shares a love child with the character of the captain. apparently there was never a debate about making the China Doll character white, but there was an attempt to keep the illegitimate daughter in the story. the film (a pet project of Irving Thalberg) went through multiple treatments by multiple writers and the character survived through many of them.

 

however in the end the Hayes Office was just not having it and the idea of the illegitimate daughter was scrapped.

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CHINA SEAS is a thoroughly enjoyable potboiler. It was perhaps the best and most successful reteaming of Gable and Harlow since RED DUST, probably because it hewed most closely to some of RED DUST's elements than did the interim comedies featuring this team: foreign intrigue and melodrama in an exotic tropical locale; Clark and Harlow sparring and sparking with much sexual heat, while Gable chases the prim upper class miss before coming to his senses. An outstanding cast of top stars and supporting players, plus plenty of humor and snappy dialogue.....great fun whether seen for the first or fortieth time.

 

I agree that China Seas is a very enjoyable film with a great cast.    The flaw would be how over the top the Harlow character is.   Really she should have been put to death for her crimes or at least given 20 years, since her actions lead to the death of others.    But since it was all about a love \ hate relationship with Gable we are advised to just look the other way.    But the magic here is that we willingly do look the other way.   We want Gable and her to end up together and for her very immature and asinine behavior to not ruin the fun.    Only in Hollywood,  but it does shows the magic of this type of 30s filmmaking and this one has it down pat.

 

I do like that the Russell character isn't a cardboard type of rich 'b c h',  but instead very grounded, sweet as well as fair and nice to the Harlow character.     It might have been too much if the Russell character wasn't that way.

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according to the AFI Film Database: "China Seas" was based on the 1930 novel in which the character of China Doll is actually an Asian woman.

she also shares a love child with the character of the captain. apparently there was never a debate about making the China Doll character white, but there was an attempt to keep the illegitimate daughter in the story. the film (a pet project of Irving Thalberg) went through multiple treatments by multiple writers and the character survived through many of them.

however in the end the Hayes Office was just not having it and the idea of the illegitimate daughter was scrapped.

The illegitimate child storyline would probably have made it had the movie been done.and released before the full enforcement of the production code. But I agree it still retains a surprising amount of a precode flavor.

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