ALIFFF 2018

Monday, 21 July 2008

Rough Seas (1931)

The war is over, the first one that is, and the yanks are on their way home from France. However boarding at Quai No 13 isn't just Pvt Charley Chase, but his French girlfriend and his pet monkey too, surreptitiously as they certainly aren't allowed in the slightest. As you can imagine, this script pretty much writes itself. It's stunningly overacted, as you might expect from a bunch of silent film actors appearing in a 1931 sound film, but Charley Chase surprises us with a reasonably good singing voice, even when singing octaves below his normal range, if indeed he wasn't dubbed. However he's outacted by the monkey, and that's not good.

The script is clunky and predicatable and Chase starts out very dorky indeed, though his character improves as the film goes on. His French girlfriend who he smuggles on board is played by Thelma Todd, a notable talent who has precisely nothing to do here. In fact her best scene is one when she's entirely contained in a sack on Charley's back, but for a single shapely leg stuck out of a hole. Admittedly there's only a 27 minute running time but surely there could be have been more opportunity than she got.

The film was directed by Charley's younger brother James Parrott, even though both were going under pseudonyms. Charley Chase's real name was Charles Parrott and his brother James was really a Paul, which is what he tended to use when acting.

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