Across to Singapore (1928)

  • Silent.
  • Stars pre-famous, 24-year-old Joan Crawford & ultra-famous, 29-year-old Ramon Novarro.
  • The beginning is a clever one. I bought it. I was about to comment on how Priscilla (Crawford) should not have leapt overboard in all of those layers of clothing, because that’d make it nearly impossible for her to keep afloat in the sea – but hey! Fantastic news! None of it was real & they were actually drowning in sand.
  • Brother Mark (Ernest Torrence) is old as fuck!
  • There’s no way Priscilla chooses him over the dreamy-eyed goodness that is his younger brother Joel (Novarro). What a joke!
  • Brother Mark just downed an entire glass of vinegar without flinching. He then commented on how the “wine” was maybe a bit too sweet. Brother Mark is either a drunkard or a dumbass – I can’t yet tell which.
  • Oh, Christ. Brother Mark is already professing his love for Priscilla. You’ve been off your boat for like…5 hours & she’s the first woman you’ve come across. Chill out, man!
  • All of these brothers & fathers are that oblivious to the fact that Priscilla & Ramon are definitely a thing? Or they just don’t care…?
  • Guess so. Priscilla’s father, on the instantly arranged marriage between Priscilla & Creepy Brother Mark: “We’ll have it announced in church tomorrow and surprise everybody…even Priscilla!”

Yeah, that’ll go over well with the youngsters! Not.

  • Joan Crawford did nice work in the ‘church announcement’ scene. Ramon did nothing. But whatever – maybe his character was in too much shock, or something.
  • That below deck scene between the two of them, though – when they’re saying goodbye but Ramon is putting on a brave face & pretending not to care that Dumbass Brother Mark is stealin’ his woman – they both nailed that one.
  • I do not pity Brother Mark & his being haunted by Priscilla’s disgust with his embraces – I would like to see him clobbered, and soon.
  • Joan Crawford is beautiful, you guys. And with her acting skills? It’s no wonder she made it as big as she did.
  • Update: Brother Mark is both a drunkard AND a dumbass. While his crew is battling a massive storm above deck, he is below getting absolutely sloshed and saying things like, “It’s lovin’ somebody else that’s makin’ her hate me! Somebody else! Some day I’ll meet him!” Groan. What a fool.
  • Who the fuck is this mustached plotter, and why does he think he should command the ship? Of course BrotherCaptain Mark will choose his brothers for leadership roles over you!
  • “You’re too young to go ashore in this place!” says BrotherCaptain Mark to Ramon. Yes, Mark – CLEARLY HE’S NEVER BEEN TO SINGAPORE. (Got my PoTC reference in, y’all – now I’m satisfied.)
  • What? Matthew (the 4th son) drowned, too? How sad for Papa Shore! Now he thinks all his sons except Ramon have bit it (though we know differently re: BrotherCaptain Mark.)
  • Ugh. Mustache Man the Mutineer is trying to disgrace Ramon. How dare he!!!

(I think we all know that Mustache Man will get what he deserves, before all’s said and done, though – it’s only a matter of time. ’20s audiences would never have stood for their hero Ramon being put down in that way – he will have his revenge quite soon, I’m sure.)

  • Joel (Ramon): But Priscilla…wouldn’t you be happy if Mark were found alive?

Priscilla: FUCK NO, I WOULDN’T!!!  ARE YOU STUPID?!?

(Okay, so the second part of that exchange didn’t happen – but, you know, it could have.)

  • In a strange twist of story, Ramon has essentially girlnapped Priscilla & is immediately sailing the two of them back to Singapore so that she can persuade BrotherCaptain Mark to stop being stabbed and come home to Papa Shore. Why this is necessary, I’m not entirely sure (shore?)…but let’s just go with it & see what happens. Mustache Man is also onboard, so maybe he’ll drown, or something.
  • Title card: “Six months in Singapore has made of Mark a drink-crazed, half-mad, gibbering derelict.”

Of course it has. Way to go, Mark.

  • YESSSS!!!!! Mark’s re-entrance to this story could NOT have been better. That hand crawling up & over the side of the ship, and then that awful, dirty face slowly bobbing up from below? SOLID CHOICE, filmmakers.
  • BrotherCaptain Mark is pissed that he just saw Ramon & Priscilla caressing the hell out of each other.
  • Luckily, he’s a drink-crazed, half-mad, gibbering derelict, though – so he forgot about it in roughly 5 seconds flat.
  • Haha! The look Priscilla gives Mark as he’s approaching her is like, ‘You CANNOT be serious. Less than 10 seconds ago you saw me love-cradling your brother, and you’re still convinced it’s possible I want to marry you? Wtf is wrong with you, man?!’
  • Ernest Torrence plays BrotherCaptain Mark the Derelict to perfection, though.
  • Oh, thank God. BrotherCaptain Mark finally gets it. Damn straight Priscilla is “lovin’ [your] own brother!” Your brother is dreamy-eyed catch…or haven’t you heard?
  • Oh, Mustache Man. Always the plotter. Fingers crossed a giant wave nabs him soon.
  • Also, I’m getting a little fed up with Ramon & this ‘No! Priscilla loves you!’ business. Claim your woman, damn it! Stop wasting everyone’s time!
  • Great news! BrotherCaptain Mark & Ramon have reconciled! Bad news! It’s only because Mustache Man imprisoned them below deck & beat the shit out of Ramon!
  • Priscilla, it turns out, is quite the badass. She is currently wielding a pistol & shooting Mustache Man’s groupies. Look at you go, Priscilla!
  • BrotherCaptainMark the (half-reformed) Derelict has used his super strength to break he & Ramon out of their boat-jail, & is now slapping bad guys with his handcuff chains. Brutal!
  • WHAT! Mustache Man just sneak-impaled BrotherCaptain Mark from behind!
  • In response, Our Hero (Ramon, aka Joel) just dramatically dumped Mustache Man off the front of the ship. It’s about damn time.
  • In conclusion – BrotherCaptain Mark gave the kids his blessing, then promptly kicked the bucket. Tidy!
  • Solid movie. Romance, brotherly conflict, sailing adventures…the works.
  • Lastly, some fun trivia: This came out the same year as STEAMBOAT BILL, JR. Ernest Torrence must’ve really loved his boats!
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