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China Seas
China Seas
Actors: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, James A. FitzPatrick, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone
Directors: Reginald Le Borg, Tay Garnett
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2006     1hr 27min

Rugged Captain Alan Gaskell (Clark Gable) sails the perilous waters between Hong Kong and Singapore with a secret cargo: a fortune in British gold. That's not the only risky cargo he carries. Both his fiery mistress (Jean ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, James A. FitzPatrick, Wallace Beery, Lewis Stone
Directors: Reginald Le Borg, Tay Garnett
Creators: Crosbie Garstin, James Kevin McGuinness, John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman, Maurice Revnes, Monckton Hoffe
Genres: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Swashbucklers, Romantic Comedies, Love & Romance, Classics, Musicals
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Full Screen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 06/20/2006
Original Release Date: 08/16/1935
Theatrical Release Date: 08/16/1935
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 27min
Screens: Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Alice B. from SANDY, UT
Reviewed on 5/19/2014...
This is the first making of China Seas with Clark Gable in 1935 with Jean Harlow and a very young Rosalind Russell. I have seen the1954 China Seas with Clark Gable and Susan Hayward and they are totally different movies. In this Movie loose and scheming woman Jean Harlow chases Clark Gable on his ship, with his ex- beloved Girlfriend Miss High society Rosalind Russell.This movie is mostly at sea and full of action from Beginning to ending. It is an exciting on the edge movie.

Movie Reviews

A dream cast in a film paced like a rocket.
(5 out of 5 stars)

"One of the most entertaining films ever made, with MGM throwing in everything but the kitchen sink and all the elements working beautifully. God Almighty couldn't have concocted a more exquisitely perfect cast. Wallace Beery, the most forceful and fascinating actor of his day, plays a villain who covets Jean Harlow and tortures hero Clark Gable, who is at his absolute peak as a roguish sea captain and even more fun to watch than he was later in "Gone With the Wind," if that's possible. Sensational humorist Robert Benchley, grandfather of the author of "Jaws," is present for comic relief and his character is reeling drunk throughout the movie, which is refreshing to see when viewed from the standpoint of today's comparatively repressive attitude toward alcohol. Rosalind Russell and Hattie McDaniel are also aboard the storm-tossed ship. This one gallops, with a literate and amusing script and lustrous, shimmering photography, and performances to savor from the strongest screen actors ever. A severely underrated classic and not to be missed. Be sure to watch it only in its original glowing black-and-white and avoid the aesthetically inferior colorized version. For whatever reasons, we no longer have actors as entertaining as Beery and Gable. This movie is a phenomenal treat."
Gable and Harlow Matching Wits In Lively Modern Pirate Tale
Simon Davis | 09/10/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you could classify a typical "Golden Age of Hollywood", product then "China Seas", would be it. It exemplifies everything that was so unique about the 1930's in particular at a studio like MGM, where sheer star power often overcame an unlikely story to produce first rate entertainment that has stood the test of time. "China Seas", was planned as one of 1935's big "A" efforts by studio genius Irving Thalberg who always seemed to know what the public wanted and gave it to them in classy well produced film adaptions. The legendary teaming of super stars Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery, all at the peak of their creative talents, almost guaranteed box office success which is what occured here making "China Seas", a mega hit for MGM that year. The three leads certainly were displayed in "typical", roles with Gable the cynical no nonsense ship's Captain, Harlow the loud mouth mantrap living by her wits and usually clad in something revealing and Beery the rough bear-like villian out for the best opportunity for himeslf. All these usual personas however combine beautifully in an exciting modern pirate tale filled with interesting support characters, excellent action sequences and just enough humour to satisfy all viewers. The magical screen chemistry of Gable and Harlow is well on display here in one of their most pleasing vehicles together and rightly goes a long way to making "China Seas", a viewing experience to treasure.

Based on the novel by Crosbie Garstin, "China Seas", tells the story of a passenger/cargo boat that is making a journey from Hong Kong to Singapore. In charge is Capt. Alan Gaskell (Clark Gable), who is taking on board a highly desirable cargo of bullion for shipment. The voyage promises to be a highly dangerous one as the seas in that region are infamous for pirate gangs that make their living by robbing such vessels of their precious cargo. To add to his concerns he finds that his passenger list contains a few headaches and surprises as well when he finds that his sometime mistress Dolly "China Doll" Portland (Jean Harlow) has booked passage on the boat to keep her claws in him, and that also in the biggest surprise old flame Sybil Barclay (Rosalind Russell), a refined Englishwoman has also tracked him down to Hong Kong and seeks more than just an enjoyable voyage from her former love. Also on board is Jamesy MacArdle (Wallace Beery), who is there for his own reasons and is actually in league with some of the China sea pirates and intends to assist in stealing the bullion once the voyage is underway. Jamesy also harbours a passion for Dolly which as the voyage continues will cost her dearly in her pursuit of Alan. Once at sea a real jealousy springs up between Dolly and Sybil and when Dolly sees the old infatuation rising between Alan and Sybil she decides to have her own back on him and teams up with Jamesy in a very rowdy partnership designed to create jealousy in Alan. We are introduced to the other colourful characters on the voyage including disgraced new 3rd officer Tom Davids (Lewis Stone) a former captain who lost his last vessel and is on board under a real cloud of disapproval by the crew, Sir Guy Wilmerding the upright throughly English owner of the shipping line, and eternally drunk Charlie McCaleb who really has no idea where he is or where he is going. The voyage is anything but a calm crossing in that the crew must face a terrible hurricane which almost costs everyone their lives and a frightening attack by Malay pirates who have been forewarned of the rich cargo on board Alan's ship by Jamesy and are willing to torture and kill to get it. In the lead up to these events Dolly discovers the real reason why Jamesy is on board when she finds the well known half of a bank note which the pirates use as a means of identification in his coat pocket. Trying to warn Alan about what is going to happen she is angrily rejected by him and then throws in her lot with Jamesy. The raid by the Malay pirates led by one of their "princes", (Tetsu Komai), however doesn't have the expected result even after they put Alan through the torture of the Chinese Boot trying to find the whereabouts of the hidden bullion. Ironically enough it is the "coward", of the voyage , Tom Davids who saves the day when after having his legs crushed by the pirates he proves his real worth under pressure by crawling to the cargo hold and gathering some explosives that help blow up the pirate vessel. In the aftermath of the fighting on board knowing that he is lost Jamesy kills himself and frees Dolly of any of the real blame. After the vessel docks in Singapore however justice has to be done and Alan begins to realise that the refined and comfortable life in England with Sybil is just not what he is cut out for and that life in the China Seas with Dolly and all its perils is his future. Promising to do all he can to stand by Dolly in the court case that will follow their future together based on being two individuals cut from the same material is assured.

A typical star vehicle of its day perhaps but there is much to like in "China Seas". Rarely has Clark Gable been in better form than here and his rogueish but basically respectable Alan Gaskell indeed has alot in common with his most famous role of Rhett Butler from "Gone With The Wind". Gable's real magic as a screen presense to be reckoned with is very evident in "China Seas", and rarely during the 1930's did he have a more perfectly matched leading lady than Jean Harlow. All slinky gowns, platinum blonde hair and always with something spithy to say Jean is the very embodiement of the "tramp with a heart of gold". Her screen chemistry with Gable really came of age in their classic "Red Dust", but here their work together is just as effective with the fire and the passion between the two literally boiling over. Veteran MGM character actor Lewis Stone really excels in his most unusual role which is light years away from his most famous role of Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy series. Playing the coward who runs from his responsibility but who ultimately helps save the day when he is put to the test is a totally different turn for this gifted actor and he makes the most of his scenes. Rosalind Russell hadn't yet in 1935 revealed herself as the superb comedian she was to become at the end of the decade with her role in "The Women", and at this time was still working he rway through largely stiff and proper characters such as she plays in "China Seas". Somehow it is hard to imagine the rugged Clark Gable really falling for such a proper character as Russell plays here and all the time you can see that Alan and Dolly despite all their fighting and threats towards each other are far better suited. Directed at a fast pace by Tay Garnett probably best known for his direction of the classic "The Postman Always Rings Twice", and some of Greer Garson's better efforts, the action is kept moving along to keep up the interest. We dont find out alot about these characters or alot about their motivations for what they do here however in such an action story as this that is not so vital. It's their reactions to each other and the course of events that make "China Seas", so entertaining. First class cinematography and lighting help play up the sensual side of the Gable/Harlow teaming here and designer Adrian excels in his women's costumes with Harlow's unforgettable slinky well off the shoulder evening gowns and Rosalind Russell's prim and proper outfits perfectly filling us in on what type of women to expect here.

As a combined action adventure and romance story "China Seas", really delivers the goods in the entertainment department. The special effects scenes when the hurricane hits the ship for the time are excellent and constantly remind me of the great expertise that the major studios had even at this early time pre computer age, in mounting realistic looking elements like storms at sea. Of course first and foremost it is the Gable/Harlow teaming that makes this effort memorable. Both where often underestimated actors but certainly succeeded in setting sparks off each other in their scenes together. For a rousing modern day pirate tale full of adventure, skullduggery and steamy romance you can't go past Irving Thalberg's glowing black and white classic "China Seas"."
Has any couple ever sizzled like Harlow vs Gable?
JOHN GODFREY | Milwaukee ,WI USA | 03/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I don't think so, be it in the jungle, a New York high rise or at sea. Hepburn & Tracy were great, no argument. But they were so modern & urbane, not rowdy & sexy, always fighting like Harlow & Gable. China Seas is a fine example of this chemistry. Yeah, & its a pretty good story too. Gable is Capt. Gaskell, skipper of a passenger/merchant ship running from Hong Kong to Singapore. Harlow is the floozie, Dolly, he had a fling with on shore. The ship is carrying gold. There is a terrific typhoon, & a pirate raid in which the ship is seized for a while. They torture the Captain, but he doesn't reveal where the gold is. Dolly is mixed up in a conspiracy with a crewman, Wallace Berry, against the Captain because she is mad at him. She of course changes her mind. The Captain is trying to ditch Dolly & thinks he's meant for Lady Sybil, played by Rosalind Russell, an old flame. But he & Dolly really are in love. Unfortunately the collaborations between Harlow & Gable was cut short at five movies with Harlow untimely & early death several years later.