|Directed by||Roland West|
|Produced by||Roland West|
|Written by||Walton Green (novel Corsair)|
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Editing by||Hal C. Kern|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Release date(s)||28 November 1931|
|Running time||75 minutes|
Plot summaryA college football hero, Chester Morris as John Hawks, lets himself be goaded, by a wealthy socialite, Thelma Todd as Alison Corning, into forgetting about a job coaching the college team, to be "a real man, and make real money", in the big city, with her Father, Emmett Corrigan as Stephen Corning, on Wall Street.
He soon has more than he can stomach, making money, by bilking the poor, out of their meagre savings, with junk bonds.
He gets the inside dope from Ned Sparks as Slim; and Mayo Methot, his Gun moll, who taps out the information in Morse Code, with her typewriter. Then, as a modern pirate, with his friend, Frank McHugh as ‘Chub’, he captains the “Corsair”, a gunboat, which preys on bootleggers, and then resells the cargo, to their wealthy backers.
He only forgot two things: that in the cutthroat world of junk bonds and margin calls, they don’t use real knives, machine guns, and bombs, like the gangsters; and, the girl hiding, in the hold.
It’s a hard lesson to learn; but, one that will last them the rest of their lives; however long, or short, that may be.
- Chester Morris as John Hawks
- Thelma Todd as Alison Corning
- Fred Kohler as Big John
- Ned Sparks as Slim
- Emmett Corrigan as Stephen Corning
- William Austin as Richard Bentinck
- Frank McHugh as 'Chub' Hopping
- Frank Rice as Fish Face
- Mayo Methot as Sophie
- Gay Seabrook as Susie Grenoble
- Addie McPhail as Jean Phillips
- Al Hill
- Pat Hartigan
- Sidney D'Albrook
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Corsair (film)|
- Corsair at the Internet Movie Database
- Corsair is available for free download at the Internet Archive [more]
CORSAIR was part of the early thirties cycle of gangster movies and failed to attract much attention at the time. It was not a hit and the talk was that Thelma Todd couldn't act. I liked Thelma Todd in it all right, but I don't think it's one of her better movies. Amoung the dramas, I thought KLONDIKE was better.
After the making of CORSAIR, Thelma Todd would eventually open her sidewalk cafe in partnership with this film's producer, Roland West. History tells us that Roland West could be difficult with under any circumstances and history also tells us that this partnership was not always a happy one.
The hero of the story, played by Chester Morris, engages in things like piracy in addition to violating prohibition laws by dealing in alchohol. The movie attempts to excuse his misdeeds at the end, but his actions remain questionable nonetheless.
Roland West retired after making this movie, during the making of which the interiors were filmed only at night, as was his want, the exteriors being filmed outside as there was no other recourse in those days of slow film. West had been quoted as saying he didn't like working in studios because of interfering studio officials ( which is why he liked working at night ) and that for his next movie he would like to shoot something entirely on location. Although West sounds like an irritable cuss ( and as a matter of fact was one ) the coming of sound had greatly complicated matters and changed the way movies were made. Things just weren't the same anymore. For a while the talkies tended to be static and stagebound, with the recording of sound taking precedence over the pictorial element that hitheroto had been their sole concern in the days of silent film.
Roland West had real-life associations with the sea. He owned a yacht named the "Joyita" which was named after Jewel Carmen ( the name means "Little Jewel" in Spanish ) which was used as one of the ships in the movie. He would go on a long voyage on this ship after the making of the movie and lived on it for some time afterwards.
West later sold the Joyita and it passed through a succession of owners, not all whom were happy with their experiences with what would later come to be known as a jinx ship.
Here is a poster where Thelma Todd is billed as "Alison Loyd".
William K. Everson's THE DETECTIVE IN FILM
In his book THE DETECTIVE IN FILM, William K. Everson discusses CORSAIR and remarks that the end allows the lawless plotters to escape unpunished with their ill-gotten gains. But Mayo Methot's character does not escape - the story has it that she is killed as a result of having become involved in the plot. Something that is completely ignored by Everson, who could have seen some sort of paralell between this and the death of Thelma Todd ( the two were similar in appearance in CORSAIR ), but missed it in his attempts to relate the happenings in this movie to West's personal views and his possible involvement in the death of Thelma Todd. Thelma Todd is not mentioned at all, apart from the reference to suspicion that West was responsible for her death. As Everson never said anything about Thelma Todd having been in CORSAIR, the implication is that he may not have even known that "Alison Loyd"actually was Thelma Todd.
William K. Everson with another famous blonde, Marilyn Monroe.
Watch CORSAIR online:
Chester Morris Site:
William K. Everson:
Mayo Methot ( The Skeins ):