The ultimate 4am Movie
Chei Mi Lane | Saint Louis, MO United States | 10/17/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this movie on SPN in the early days of cable and loved it. Fortunately I taped it. That and a couple cheapo video outlets' copies have had to satisfy me for over twenty years. I recently transfered the best of my copies to DVD, but will be purchasing this version based on the above review, also knowing that Alpha's prints are about as good as it gets, considering the source material.
If you've been up long hours with too much coffee, watch this flick. You'll enjoy this seedy little tale. This film alone made me a Harry Carey fan. The other reviewer did an excellent job detailing the performances, so I won't repeat. Great Movie! Knew Alpha would get around to it eventually!"
The finger of guilt pointed at her!
Steven Hellerstedt | 07/27/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After witnessing a murder, beautiful showgirl Della Mason (Judith Allen) smuggles herself aboard woman-hating Capt. Josiah Storm's (Harry Carey) South Seas tramp steamer. Young radio operator Jim (Milburn Stone) falls instantly for the young beauty, who the authorities believe, wrongly, was an accomplice to the murder. For her protection, the ship takes her to a port where young woman in trouble can 'disappear.'
I liked PORT OF MISSING GIRLS just enough to give it three stars. Judith Allen had a decent singing voice (she has three numbers in this one) and had a broad-shouldered beauty reminiscent of a young Joan Crawford. My trusty old copy of The Film Encyclopedia has this to say about Ms. Allen: "A former model and stage player, she was heralded by Cecil B. DeMille as his new star discovery for THIS DAY AND AGE. But her subsequent roles did not justify the publicity and she finally wound up playing in cheap melodramas and Westerns." 'Finally' came a little quickly to Judith Allen's career. The cheap melodrama PORT OF MISSING GIRLS was made just five short years after THIS DAY AND AGE, and her career stepped off the cliff soon after.
The veteran character actor Harry Carey brings a calm, unaffected authority to his role as the woman-hating captain. It's an odd little treat to see Gunsmoke's musty old Doc, Milburn Stone, play Allen's smooth-faced love interest.
Based on this movie, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that director Karl Brown's nickname was "One Shot." There's a distracting handful of instances when the actors trip over their lines and give a bad reading. Furthermore, it's apparent that one stationary camera was used to shot this movie. Another distraction is when the camera angle is changed in the middle of a scene and continuity is broken when the actors and props aren't quite in the same location they were a split second ago. A competent director is able to overcome tight shooting schedules and tight budgets.
Brown also wrote the screenplay, and has jammed this movie with cliched secondary characters. The ship's crew consists of a toothless old gump, an eye-popping African-American cook, and an oh-la-la'ly lustful stripe shirted Frenchman. When the ship reaches port Brown throws in a slick-haired, pencil-moustached Latin lover. The port also contains a Mr. Wong-ish silk robed Chinese general. These characters may have passed when this movie was made, but modern viewers will find them unintentionally funny or downright offensive.
If you like old melodramas, PORT OF MISSING GIRLS delivers. Its strengths include Carey's understated presence and the chance to see one of Hollywood's countless young starlets whose career flamed out before they reached their thirtieth birthday. For a public domain film transferred directly to dvd, the print and sound quality are quite acceptable.