“Pounding up and down the seas-dodging into ports- a tramp schooner.”
Before watching A Girl in Every Port I had no idea Howard Hawks ever made a silent film. I am so used to seeing his sound films like Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, and To Have and Have Not I never even realized the man most likely made silent films. He did but only a few and A Girl in Every Port is one of them. From the beginning you can tell this is a Howard Hawks film from its story to its comedic situations.
Sailor Spike Madden (Victor McLaglen) takes his ship all over the world to hundreds of different ports. Whatever port Spike makes it his mission to get a girl. Some of the ports he has a girl waiting for him. In the Netherlands his girl he met a few years before is now married with a family. In a matter of seconds he has forgotten about the old girl and eyes a new one. Spike and the girl go out for a bike ride to the country. He sees the girl is wearing a bracelet with a heart charm that has an anchor in the middle. Spike gets mad he has been seeing the symbol in the ports he has recently been to, he sees this guy as stealing his girls.
Spike finally catches up to the guy) whose name is Bill (Robert Armstrong) in Central America. They meet in a bar by accident when they argue over a girl. Both sailors get into a huge brawl to where the guards are called in. Bill and Spike have a mutual dislike of the guards so they beat up the guards together, they go back to fighting each other, and then the army is brought in. Spike and Bill get thrown in jail when Spike sees the heart and anchor mark on his chin from Bill’s ring. He is the one who has been beating Spike to all the ports and taking his women!
The men are set to be released from jail if they can pay a fine. Spike pays but Salami has no money. Spike paysBill’s fine which he only paid because he wanted to punch Bill’s face in. They walk the streets looking for a place to fight but everywhere they go guards are there. They finally get to a wharf and they fall in the water. Spike panics because he cannot swim. Bill saves him and from this the two men become best friends. From this moment on they are inseparable and become shipmates.
On their way to France Bill gets laid up with a toothache leaving Spike alone to look for women and have some fun. Spike goes to a circus where he sees a beautiful girl named Marie (Louise Brooks). Marie is a diver in an act where she accidentally splashes Spike- well, he was standing too close. She has him come back to her at her tent where she offers to dry his coat. That night he takes Marie out on a date through the park. Spike has been thinking about settling down and he thinks he has found just the girl to settle down with. She says she is open to try it out. Spike tells Bill that he does not want to sail he wants to stay in France with Marie. Bill says his latest “skirt” cannot be that great. Bill leaves but then comes back saying he really does not think Spike’s latest “skirt” is a tramp. And also he cannot sail without his best friend.
Spike takes Marie to meet Bill. He goes out leaving his girl and best friend alone. We find out Bill this “skirt” when she worked at Coney Island and to top everything off she has his mark tattooed on her arm. Marie keeps going after Bill but he does everything he can to try to convince her that he cannot hurt his best friend. One night Spike comes home to find Marie alone in the apartment and Bill missing from his bed. Spike fuming goes to find his friend who is at a bar getting the crap beat out of him by some locals. Spike saves him.
Spike does not stay mad at Bill too long. They promise to not let any women come between them again.
The cast was very good. Victor McLaglen and Robert Armstrong were very believable as former rivals who become best friends. McLaglen comes off as kind of a big goof especially after he meets Marie but that is what makes you like the character. Louise Brooks just steals her scenes because she just had this magnetism to her you could not look away when she came on screen. Robert Armstrong I liked because I did have to listen him to talk! Whenever I watch King Kong I want to punch him in the face after a while to make him stop talking! But the guy was a good actor even if he did talk fast and annoying. According to IMDB Armstrong’s character is supposed to be named Salami but I clearly saw that he name was Bill. I will say his name is Bill because Salami is just weird. Apparently Myrna Loy is in this film somewhere. She is supposed to be a girl in a Chinese port but I do not think there was a scene where either Spike or Bill were in China. I could not have been paying attention that is very possible with me.
A Girl in Every Port is every frame a Howard Hawks film. There are some funny moments especially with Bill and Spike trying to start fights with people around them and there are some but not many serious moments. A Girl in Every Port is very an entertaining silent with a good cast and a fun story.