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China Seas (film)

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Title: China Seas (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Hattie McDaniel, Lewis Stone, Irving Thalberg, 1935 in film, Rosalind Russell, Akim Tamiroff, C. Aubrey Smith, Edward Brophy, Jules Furthman, The Secret Six
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China Seas (film)

China Seas
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tay Garnett
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Albert Lewin
Written by James Kevin McGuinness
Jules Furthman
Based on China Seas
1931 novel 
by Crosbie Garston
Starring Clark Gable
Jean Harlow
Wallace Beery
Lewis Stone
Rosalind Russell
Robert Benchley
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Ray June
Clyde De Vinna (2nd unit)
Edited by William LeVanway
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • August 9, 1935 (1935-08-09)
Running time 87 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,138,000[1][2]
Box office $2,867,000[1][2]

China Seas is a 1935 adventure film starring Clark Gable as a brave sea captain, Jean Harlow as his brassy paramour, and Wallace Beery as an extremely suspicious-looking character. The oceangoing epic also features Lewis Stone and Rosalind Russell, while humorist Robert Benchley memorably portrays a character reeling drunk from one end of the film to the other.

The lavish MGM epic was written by James Kevin McGuinness and Jules Furthman from the book by Crosbie Garstin, and directed by Tay Garnett. This is one of only four sound films with Beery in which he didn't receive top billing.


Alan Gaskell (Clark Gable) is the captain of a tramp steamer chugging between Singapore and Hong Kong. Dolly Portland (Jean Harlow) is Alan's former girlfriend who books passage on the steamer at the same time that another of Alan's former loves, aristocratic Sybil Barclay (Rosalind Russell), shows up. Jamesy McArdle (Wallace Beery) is Alan's first mate, who is actually in league with a gang of pirates who plan to steal the gold shipment being carried in the hold of the steamer.[3]




Irving Thalberg had worked on the film since 1930 when he assigned three different writers to come up with three different treatments. By 1931 Thalberg had decided on the one storyline and spent the next four years working on a script with two dozen writers, half a dozen directors and three supervisors.[2]

Gable had several temper tantrums on the set, which were tolerated by MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer because the star had recently won an Academy Award for Best Actor in It Happened One Night (1934) on a loan-out to Columbia Pictures, and he did not want to risk losing him. Mayer even tolerated that Gable risked his life by refusing a stunt double in a sequence in which he assisted numerous Chinese extras in roping in a runaway steamroller that crashed up and down the decks of the cantilevered studio ship.[4]


The film was a big hit earning $1,710,000 in the US and Canada and $1,157,000 elsewhere resulting in profits of $653,000.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ a b c d Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 155-156
  3. ^
  4. ^ Higham, Charles (Dec 1994) [1993]. Merchant of Dreams: Louis B. Mayer, M.G.M., and the Secret Hollywood (paperback ed.). Dell Publishing. p. 265. ISBN . 

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