Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


TUGBOAT ANNIE (1933). Director: Mervyn LeRoy.

Annie Brennan (Marie Dressler) lives and works for a living on her tugboat, along with her often-drunk and lazy husband, Terry (Wallace Beery), whom she dearly loves. The only thing that comes between them is their son Alec (Robert Young), a successful captain of a luxury liner, who is disgraced by his father's behavior and wants his mother to leave him. This causes an estrangement between son and parents that is painful for all. Tugboat Annie features that swell team Dressler and Beery in top form. (Although Young is okay, he's rather one-note and out-classed in this company). Maureen O'Sullivan is excellent as Alec's girlfriend, and Frankie Darro is fine as Alec as a boy in the earlier scenes. Tugboat Annie and its leads never let you forget the pathos underneath the comedy. The only debit is that the climactic storm-at-sea sequence goes on a little too long, and is a bit confusing as well.

Verdict: Dressler and Beery at their best. ***.

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