Son of the Navy (March 30, 1940)
Released on March 30, 1940: James Dunn is a sailor who is late getting back to his ship, so he teams up with a young boy to hitch hike faster.
Directed by William Nigh
Written by True Boardman, Grover Jones, Marion Orth and George Waggner.
The Actors: Jean Parker (Steve Moore), James Dunn (Chief Gunners Mate Mike Malone), Martin Spellman (Tommy), Selmer Jackson (Captain Parker), William Royle (Captain Moore), Sarah Padden (Mrs. Baker, landlady), Craig Reynolds (Brad Wheeler), Dave O'Brien (Nelson), Gene Morgan (Burns), Charles King (Duke Johnson), Lynton Brent (ticket clerk), Morgan Brown (counterman at diner), Tristram Coffin (service station attendant), Hal Craig (first truck driver), Mike Donovan (policeman at station house), Lester Dorr (patrolman at altercation), Frank Hagney (vegetable truck driver), Edward Hearn (desk Sergeant Flaherty), Russell Hopton (Police Officer), John James (Ensign), I. Stanford Jolley (hotel clerk), Donald Kerr (roving eyed sailor).
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Anchors Aweigh, me lads, it is time for a Christmas story about a sailor, a young orphan and his shaggy dog who run away in search of a dad and mom, and a girl who vows never to marry a sailor. Pop some white kernel corn, string the Chirstmas tree with some of it, and pour warm melted butter over the rest of it to enjoy while you watch this "How to make an instant family" adventure. This movie premiered in March of 1940, about nine months before the WWII attack on Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into the war, so there is no mention of war - just a good old sailor/Navy film.
Our movie opens with Navy man Mike Malone, who discovers that he is 26 miles away from his ship, and it will be leaving very soon. He doesn't have enough money for a cab or other transportation, so he is trying to hitch hike his way back to the base in time to board his ship before it leaves port. His luck at hitch hiking isn't too good, and he is in danger of not making it in time. Next we meet a young curly headed boy and his small shaggy dog also trying to hitch hike along this same road. The young boy has run away from the orphanage with his dog, and is determined to find a mom and dad before Christmas, which is fast approaching. When Mike and the boy meet, Mike figures that he can get a ride faster if it appears that he is the father of the young boy, and sure enough, a young gal stops to pick them up. The girl is the daughter of a Navy man, and she vows never to marry a Navy man like her mom did, because he is away from home so much.
Once they get to the docks, Mike rushes out to his ship, and little Tommy continues to insist that Mike is his dad, and that he has no mom, and he is left alone while Mike is at sea. The girl is incensed at this, and through a mixup of events, Tommy and his dog accompany the girl to the town where the ship will be docked for Christmas, determined to force Mike to take responsibility for his son. For the next hour we enjoy a comedy of events while Mike tries to convince everyone that Tommy is not really his son, and the girl and the rest of the Navy try to force Mike to take responsibility for little Tommy. Now we all know that in the final moments Mike and the girl will get married, adopt Tommy and live happily ever after, but like most movies of this type the journey to that happy ending is a roller coaster ride of comedy and crisis that appear to be contriving to keep these good people apart. So when you need a lift just sit back and enjoy the adventures of a Navy man as he tackles the challenges of a boy and a woman that are thrust into his life when he expects it the least, and enjoy this Christmas Navy tale.