A Girl in Every Port (1928)

Film Review

A GIRL IN EVERY PORT

Release Date: 26 February, 1928

Studio: Fox Film Corporation

Director: Howard Hawks

Starring: Victor McLaglen, Robert Armstrong, Louise Brooks

Synopsis

Spike Madden, a sailor, has a black book that contains the names of the ladies he has visited in each port. The ladies may not welcome him back. In Amsterdam, Lena, who he last visited in 1924, has a husband and three children. A beautiful girl in Rio de Janeiro is happy to see him, but her current lover and his friends are hostile. However, happy to see him or not, Spike finds that all the girls have already been visited by another sailor. This sailor leaves each girl a token of his affection, a pin in the shape of a heart enclosing an anchor. In South America, Spike finally catches up with this amorous sailor, named Bill. After fighting each other, other sailors, and the police, Spike and Bill form a fast friendship and henceforth sail the world and visit the ladies together.

In France, Spike meets Marie, a daredevil female high diver. Smitten, he asks her if she would like to settle on a farm with cows and chickens. She says yes, and Spike starts giving her money to save for them. When she meets Bill, he recognizes her as Tezla from Coney Island. She has his token tattooed on her arm, but she keeps it covered with an armlet. She starts making up to Bill who avoids her. One night, she finds Bill alone in bed. She immediately propositions Bill who takes his clothes and leaves. Bill goes to a saloon. When Spike comes home, Marie tells him that Bill made love to her. Enraged, Spike goes in pursuit of Bill. Meanwhile, Bill is being beaten up by two sailors. He calls for Spike to help him. Spike knocks out the sailors and then slugs Bill. As Bill lies unconscious on the floor, Spike is sorry and sits down next to him. Bill swears that he did not double-cross Spike, and the friends make up. They pledge their everlasting friendship that no woman will ever break.

Discussion

This is a male-bonding film from Howard Hawks. The women are playthings for the men, except Marie who is conniving and untrustworthy. Victor McLaglen had had big success with another male-bonding film, What Price Glory (1926), where the role of the friend and antagonist was played by Edmond Lowe. Robert Armstrong (who would later play Carl Denham in King Kong, 1933) plays that role in Girl In Every Port, and is very comfortable in it. Louise Brooks has relatively few scenes as the faithless Marie. Myrna Loy has a bit part as a girl in one of the ports. Hawks directed eight silent films, 1926-1929; this light comedy directly precedes the romantic tragedy, Fazil (1928).