The first of Dietrich's three films with Wayne finds her as a cabaret singer in the South Seas. Trouble seems to follow her from island to island, as do former Navy man Crawford and pickpocket/magician Auer. After a fight breaks out in Dietrich's latest place of employ, the three are
once again kicked off an island. They board the first ship out, where Dekker, the ship's doctor, falls hard for the beautiful torch singer. Dietrich will have nothing to do with him, though, as Dekker's drinking problem recalls an unhappy period in the singer's life. Dietrich entertains
first-class passengers as she sings amidst chicken crates. Lee, the daughter of an island governor (Hinds), is enchanted by Dietrich's voice, and shows her appreciation by tossing the singer some money. Dietrich takes this the wrong way, angrily cutting her performance short. Later Dekker informs
Dietrich that Lee only meant to pay a compliment. After learning Lee is Hinds' daughter, Dietrich is overjoyed. Now she can be readmitted to an island she had been tossed off three years before. Upon arriving, Dietrich meets Wayne, a handsome Navy man. Wayne gives her a hand getting off, then
takes Lee for a tour of the Navy base. Dietrich, with Crawford and Auer in tow, heads to the Seven Sinners Cafe. She confronts her old boss, Gilbert, and convinces him to rehire her. Gilbert reluctantly agrees, knowing full well that he is courting disaster. At the Seven Sinners Dietrich runs into
Homolka, another man from her past. Homolka and Dietrich had been involved in some illegal activities, something Dietrich does not care to remember. That night, a naval reception is held for Lee but the men attending cut out to see Dietrich's return. Lee brings the angered Wayne to the cafe, where
he reprimands the ensigns. Dietrich continues to sing her song, decked out in Navy garb, and Wayne's heart is lost. Wayne makes sure she is invited to sing at a party for his men, despite Hinds' displeasure. Dietrich is a hit but Hinds demands she be put off the ship. Wayne escorts her home and
nearly quits the Navy after spending the evening with Dietrich. Hinds confronts Dietrich, telling the singer he'll deport her unless she leaves Wayne alone. Crawford then angrily tells Dietrich the only place for a Navy man is the sea, and she agrees to leave. However, she tries to sing just one
last time, and a fight breaks out. In the end, Wayne pulls some strings, allowing Crawford to rejoin the Navy as Dietrich and Auer head off to another island. Once more she meets Dekker, who has stopped drinking, giving Dietrich some hope for the future.
Dietrich is marvelous in the role, parodying every South Seas island siren ever to hit the screen. Her throaty voice caresses her numbers with her own brand of enticing sexuality. Her three Frederick Hollander and Frank Loesser-penned tunes include: "I've Been in Love Before," "I Fall Overboard,"
and "The Man's in the Navy." Wayne is a fine, rugged counterpart to Dietrich's sultry image. His part originally was created with Tyrone Power in mind, but Wayne has an on-screen chemistry with Dietrich that gives their romance some real passion. Director Garnett liked Wayne for the role at the
very start. He took advantage of Wayne's vacation from Republic to get the star without having to pay a loan fee, then made arrangements for Dietrich to meet her potential costar. After making sure Wayne would be at the Universal commissary at a prearranged time, Garnett took Dietrich to lunch. In
his autobiography, Light Your Torches and Pull Up Your Tights, Garnett recalled: "Dietrich, with that wonderful floating walk, passed Wayne as if he were invisible, then paused, made a half-turn...(and) said in her characteristic basso whisper, `Daddy, buy me THAT.' I said, `Honey, you've got a
deal. That's our boy.' " Wayne came over at Garnett's signal, and casting was set. The film is further complemented by Dietrich's delightfully camp outfits and some rousing stunt choreography in the fight sequences. The musical score was later used in the serial DON WINSLOW OF THE NAVY. In 1949
this was remade as SOUTH SEA SINNER with Shelley Winters and MacDonald Carey in the lead roles.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The first of Dietrich's three films with Wayne finds her as a cabaret singer in the South Seas. Trouble seems to follow her from island to island, as do former Navy man Crawford and pickpocket/magician Auer. After a fight breaks out in Dietrich's latest pl… (more)