Rugged Captain Alan Gaskell (Clark Gable) sails the perilous waters between Hong Kong and Singapore with a secret cargo: a fortune in British gold. That's not the only risky cargo he carries. Both his fiery mistress (Jean Harlow) and his refined fiancee (Rosalind Russell) are aboard! With their wisecracking banter, gutsy glamour and dynamic physicality, Gable and Harlow prove once again that they were the '30s most scorching screen pair in this rough-and-tumble tale of the sea. Highlights include a raging typhoon, a battle with bloodthirsty Malay pirates, and Harlow's drinking contest with bluff villain Wallace Beery, who wants the gold and the platinum blonde. Adventure (and Golden Era allure) dead ahead on China Seas.
Sea captain Clark Gable has his hands full on the Hong Kong-Singapore route: secret gold hidden below decks, pirates, a typhoon. None of which truly matters, since the real action here is animal attraction: Gable can't believe the one classy lady (Rosalind Russell) he ever loved has come on board the same time as his bawdy mistress (Jean Harlow). Director Tay Garnett does well by the storm at sea and the marauding pirates, but he knows the real fun is when Gable and Harlow trade smoldering glances and caustic one-liners. And if more deliciously vulgar dialogue is needed, Wallace Beery is there to spray it around. However preposterous all this may seem, it's so spicily written (script by James Kevin McGuinness and the gifted Jules Furthman) and perfectly cast that it satisfies on pretty much every level. Gable was at his prime here, a bullheadedly confident example of machismos americanus in his natural habitat, and in Harlow he found his perfect unpretentious sparring partner. China Seas
is essentially a rehash of their teaming in Red Dust
, but absolutely nobody minded. --Robert Horton