DOWN TO THEIR LAST YACHT aka HAWAIIAN NIGHTS (1934)
Running Time: 64 mins. Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Paul Sloane
Distributor: RKO Radio Pictures
Cast: Mary Boland, Polly Moran, Ned Sparks, Sidney Fox, Sidney Blackmer, Sterling Holloway, Marjorie Gateson, Irene Franklin, Charles Coleman
What A Very, Very, Strange Movie
What a very, very strange movie. From the title and set up one would think that this would be a neat, Depression era, class reversal, screwball comedy complete with the icon of that genre, Mary Boland. How wrong one would be.
A once wealthy but now working family living in elegant poverty aboard their yacht are suddenly thrust into leasing their yacht and themselves for a cruise for some vulgar and possibly underworld connected nouveau riche by a decidedly sexually ambiguous Polly Moran. All right, that sounds like a comedy. Ned Sparks is hired as the captain and Sidney Blackmer has a very early outing as a romantic lead, a singing romantic lead, romancing Sidney Fox (certainly one of the few, possibly unique, screen romances between two stars named Sidney). There is some silliness about fixing the roulette wheel with the aid of Sterling Holloway, a scam which is exposed to an angry shipload of people when the captain deliberately beaches the yacht on an Island and things get very funny, peculiarly funny, indeed.
The island, which features a very good Hawaiian band, is ruled by a feather-bedecked, quite mad Mary Boland, famous for murdering her husbands and is attended by a man in tattered formal wear. Ned Sparks proposes to take the passengers hostage, strip them of everything and split the loot with the Queen but she intends to take it all, after murdering, with the assistance of her Thompson machine gun toting natives, everyone. Instead she becomes enamored of Blackmer, who plays the whole picture in white tie, to whom she proposes he become her king. He convinces her to let everyone go back to civilization as a more fitting punishment. Unfortunately she has had a bomb planted on the yacht. Fortunately she switches her affections to saxophone playing Sterling Holloway, her next “King”, and Blackmer is able to get everyone off the boat in time. The yacht explodes. Back on the island everyone pairs off and behaves in a decidedly pre-Code manner and everyone is libidinously happy. The End.
This film belongs to a group of surrealist films very characteristic of the late twenties and early thirties like MILLION DOLLAR LEGS and just about anything with W.C. Fields or the Marx Brothers. Avant Garde Europeans and South Americans were very taken by these films so their influence was mainly felt by such artists as Jean Epstein, Dali, Bunuel, Cocteau and the Magical Realists. Oh, did I mention this was a musical?
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