Cast: George Bancroft (Bill Roberts), Betty Compson (Mae Roberts), Olga Baclanova (Lou), Mitchell Lewis (Andy, the third engineer), Clyde Cook (Bill's buddy), Gustav von Seyffertitz (Hymn-Book Harry)


"The waterfront of New York ­ the end of many journeys, the beginning of many adventures."

After a month in the grimy, sweaty, coal-dust infested stoke-hole of the ship, Bill Roberts and his buddy are ready to make the most of their one night docked in New York. That night, on the way to the Sandbar, a dive on the dock, Bill sees someone jump in the water to commit suicide. He rescues the girl, Mae, and takes her to a room a the Sandbar to recuperate.

One of the girls a the Sandbar, Lou, comes to the room and takes over the care of Mae.

Bill is a big, brawny, muscular guy who lets no one push him around and isn't hesitant about using his fists if someone gets in his way. After knocking down a man in the Sandbar who tries to antatgonize him by getting in Bill's way, the bartender attempts to throw Bill out. However, Bill also knocks the bartender down.

Bill returns to Mae's room with a hot drink and some fresh clothes he has taken from a local store that was closed. Mae is recuperating nicely, but tells Bill he should have let her drown. Bill cockily tells her she'll change her mind about living after she spends an evening out with him. In gratitude for saving her life, she agrees.

Lou has not seen her husband in three years, but it turns out that he is the third engineer, Andy, on Bill's ship, and also appears at the Sandbar. After seeing Lou hugging and kissing a man in the bar, there is obviously tension between the two and obviously no love there.

When Andy sees Mae, he is attracted to her and goes over the the table where Bill and Mae are sitting. He tells Bill to leave so he can talk to his "lady friend." Bill ends up knocking Andy to the floor, also.

Mae and Bill talk and get on the subject of marriage. Mae says, "Say, who'd marry a girl like me?" To prove that he doesn't consider himself any better than her, he tells her they will get married that very night. Someone sends for a preacher, Hymn Book Harry, and they are married in the bar.

Early the next morning, after spending the night together in Mae's room, Bill leaves before Mae awakes. On the way out, Bill stops by the bar and sits at a table with Andy. Andy tells him that the fight they had the night before will cost him his job. Bill is unconcerned and says he'll find a job on another ship.

Andy leaves and goes up to Mae's room where he begins to make advances on her. Lou sees Andy go in the room and follows him in. Gunshots are fird and the police, along with a large crowd of people gather outside. As Bill is leaving, he sees the crowd and goes to see what is the matter. He finds Mae talking to the police who are ready to arrest her for shooting Andy. At that point, Lou walks up and confesses the crime. She is taken away.

Bill and Mae go back in the room and talk. Bill is still determined to leave and tells Mae, "You knew all I had was one night ashore ­ you knew I was just a dirty stoker!" Finally, Mae turns angry and tells Bill off as he leaves.

Later, before the ship can leave the harbor, Bill is having second thoughts. He climbs up out of the stoke-hole, jumps overboard, and swims ashore. He goes to the Sandbar and asks about Mae. She has been arrested and is scheduled to appear in court.

In court, Mae is being charged with having stolen the clothes Bill brought her the night before. As the judge gives her 30 days in jail, Bill walks in and confesses to the crime. The judge withdraws Mae's sentence and gives Bill 60 days in jail. Bill asks Mae to wait for him until he gets out, and she tells him she'd wait forever for him.

copyright 2001 by Tim Lussier, all rights reserved

Commentary - Scenes from the movie

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