Feature Drama | 1930 | Sound | B/W
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"The Unique and Personal Experiences of a newspaper reporter covering a Pacific waterfront". Immigrant smuggling and bootlegging during prohibition with a love affair with the villains daughter thrown in.
Man in outdoor coat and cap enters, wearily climbing stairs into the room. He sits at a desk and dials a number on the phone. He Introduces himself as 'Miller' (Ben Lyon), asks for his boss, Phelps, then complains of being out all night with no story. He gets up and walks into his bedroom while taking off his coat and jacket. At first he doesn't notice that in his bed is a fully dressed man asleep snoring. Looks surprised and shakes him, man mutters "Not tonight Josephine" and snores again. Miller kicks him awake and demands to know who he is. Man gestures and mutters about a letter. Miller gets the letter, reads it aloud and finds the man is a friend of his old college room mate. Miller continues to change while they talk about newspaper job opportunities then he pulls the stranger out of his bed and climbs in. The stranger seems drunk, mutters constantly and staggers across room to pick up some binoculars. Looks out window using them the wrong way around then corrects himself. Picture of fishing boats in harbour. Miller is trying to sleep but man climbs back into his bed. Sitting up he sees a picture of a girl on the other side of the room and checks her out using the binoculars. He says she's good looking and asks who she is. Miller, still trying to sleep, replies she is the girl he wants to marry. The telephone rings and a disgruntled Miller gets up and answers it still wearing the blankets around him. It's his boss saying he has to cover the story of a girl swimming nude off the beach, he complains but is transferred to old woman who reported the story. Slams the phone down in disgust at being got up for such a trivial reason.
A small boat motors across the harbour. In the distance a man dives from a rock into roaring surf. Miller is sitting on a rock on the beach looking bored, holding a swimsuit on the end of a stick. A girls head wearing a swimming cap appears behind a rock. She is startled to see him but asks for her costume back. He explains about the complaint and that he has to get a story. She seems more indignant and amused than upset. He asks her name and after initial reluctance she gives it as Julie Kirk (Claudette Colbert). Miller perks up and says he knows her father, then he throws her the costume and walks off.
The drunken stranger sits at the desk in Millers apartment. He is neatly dressed, tie done up and jacket buttoned but drinks from a large jug of iced water and then rests it on his head with an expression of relief. Puts down the jug and rests his head on his hands as Miller wearily mounts the stairs again. He looks irritated to see the drunk and complains he's just wasted his time as he dials a telephone number. He speaks to Phelps, tells him the girls name and argues that they shouldn't write about her but about her father who Miller reckons is a smuggler. When Phelps refuses Miller threatens to take the story to another newspaper and this makes him back down. Miller, smiling, puts down phone and tells the drunk that Phelps is a great guy.
A fishing boat at sea at night. A crewman sits on deck as the engine putters in the background. The captain, bearded and chewing tobacco, comes and sits besides him and hands him some cash. The captain shows the crewman a piece of fancy silk that their latest cargo, an illegal Chinese migrant tied up behind them, used to wrap his fee in. Crewman jokes about Captain wearing it but he replies he will give it to his daughter and is thus revealed as Eli Kirk (Ernest Torrence). Captain picks up a fish, puts his boot on its tail and pulls a liquor bottle from its mouth. He opens it but then there is the sound of a siren. They look astern and see a coastguard cutter approaching. They both look concerned. Another crewman brings chains to wrap around the Chinaman's legs while Eli gags him. The 2 crewmen hold the chinaman over the side while they wait to see if they are to be stopped. After the cutter fires a warning shot Eli reluctantly gives the order to drop the man into the sea. Eli wipes his forehead and looks sad and a crewman crosses himself. Miller is seen on the cutter. It draws alongside and officers board the fishing boat and start to search it. Miller talks to Eli saying he is going to expose him as a smuggler. Eli threatens him but Miller is relaxed. Says he knows Eli is smuggling people but is startled when Eli spits and knocks off the end of Millers cigarette. Coastguards find nothing and leave.
Eli alone in a small boat lands at a mooring beneath a building. He ties up and mounts stairs shouting 'Julie'. A young girl wearing tight polo neck, loose pants and deck shoes runs into the room cheerfully and lifts a trapdoor. She is pleased to see him and they hug. He squeezes her cheek and she brushes him off as sentimental. She asks if he had a good cruise and he seems a little put out. He changes the subject by giving her the silk, which she loves and hugs him again.
A man is slowly rowing a boat across the harbour. Miller approaches in a motor launch, stops besides the rowboat and the 2 men talk. The rower is an old man with a hole in the top of his hat who fishes for junk. He shows Miller a rubber boot he found. The Old guy hooks something underwater and Miller climbs into his boat to help him haul it in. They look surprised to find it’s a body with its arms tied behind its back. The old man says the body hasn't been in the water for more than a day and wants to cut him lose again but Miller grabs the rope. The old guy sits back and waves his finger at Miller warning him that whoever dumped the body will be unhappy it was retrieved. Miller pays him for finding the body.
Miller and another guy carry a large canvas wrapped load into the newspaper offices and dump it on a desk. A woman peeks inside and flees with a scream. Phelps enters, shouting and waving his arms in disgust. Miller shouts back and gets Phelps to take a look at the body. He is not impressed, says Eli will sue if they print a story about him. Miller produces chain from his pocket and matches it with the chains around the bodies legs. Phelps is not impressed and says only an arrest will make them safe from litigation. Miller pleads but Phelps recounts his mistakes to Millers embarrassment. He takes Millers arm and pulls him into his office, shuts the door. Says it’s a good story but needs facts. Miller, grinning, suggests seducing Julie to get info. Phelps thoughtfully agrees.
Julie is washing up while Eli stands next to her and they laugh and joke about the time they lived in Singapore. Eli looks serious and suggests returning there. Julie is worried and asks if he is in trouble. He goes and sits at a table but avoids her eye as he denies it. She kneels by the table trying to make certain he tells the truth. He still avoids her gaze but she agrees to leave in a week or two. She smiles and then looking serious says she'll go anywhere as long as he takes her along.
Julie looks v. happy in her bedroom, puts on new coat made from the silk and goes through to the main room, raises the trap door and goes down a few steps. Still happy she shouts to ask Eli if he is coming and his voice replies he doesn't know.
Julie walks slowly up to a man lying on some bales on the waterfront. He turns at her approach, revealed as Miller, greets her warmly and tries to kiss her. She pushes him off laughing. He compliments her coat which she proudly shows off. He grabs her and pulls her down onto his lap but she pushes him off again and they laugh and joke. She sits opposite him and they talk about the waterfront from contrasting views, briefly serious. He asks for a kiss but she cynically rejects him.
Julie answers the front door at home and accepts some roses wrapped in newspaper. An article by Miller is circled relating to their conversation. She laughs and admires the flowers.
A man sits in an office talking in a bored manner on the phone. Miller is on the other end calling in stories. Phelps comes from his office and interrupts the note taker. Takes the receiver and shouts about the cost of roses and gin for Julie and then slams the phone down.
Miller is at his desk at home and puts receiver down looking uncomfortable. The 'drunk' is sat by his desk and says that Miller is falling in love. As they put coats on and exit down the stairs Miller is denying a romance.
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