I purchased this for my mother as she is a big Marie Dressler fan, and watched it myself out of idle curiosity. I was pleasantly surprised to find it's a thoroughly charming film. Frequent cinematic sparring partners, Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery play hard working, salt of the earth, tugboat captain Annie and her feckless, drunken rogue of a husband. Over the years we follow their ups and downs and the rise of their devoted son, a rather wooden Robert Young, doing really well for himself.
Partly filmed in a busy port in a beautiful part of the West U.S.A. coast, and by turns raucous, gently funny and quite moving, the film evokes a strong sense of a vibrant community and nostalgia for a bygone age. The finale is a rousing and spectacularly staged rescue at sea. The two stars are at the peak of their careers and absolutely marvellous; Miss Dressler a formidable battleaxe with a tender and sensitive side; Mr Beery a gregarious idler, his many faults softened by his obvious love for Annie. This is a reminder of an age where the two top Hollywood stars could be middle aged and both have faces that looked well and truly lived in (well and truly partied in, in Mr Beery’s case) . It was their talent and ability that made them not just the top stars of their day, but the most beloved by the movie going public.
The pace and acting may seem a little dated now, but don’t let that bother you, it’s a delightful film and a lesser known part of movie history.
A piece of Trivia, it was Marie Dressler who coined the phrase “You’re only as good as your last movie”. In this case, that must mean very good indeed.