As I have mentioned in other posts about films made in 1939 I am on a mission to watch as many films from that year as I can possibly find. I am also on a mission to watch as many Frances Dee films as I can find because her films are damn hard to find! (if anyone would like to be kind if you have some of her films somewhere or where I can find more let me or just send them my way please). Coast Guard partly fulfilled both my missions. It is a film that was made in 1939 and Frances Dee is one of its stars.
A ship manned by a Captain Bliss is being battered by the high winds and tall waves of a bad storm. It is nearing rocks on a shore. An SOS goes out to the Coast Guard to comes and rescue them. Lt. Ray Dower (Ralph Bellamy) is sent out to the ship. Dower and his men are able to rescue all the crew. Unfortunately Bliss is hit in the head by something on his ship as he was climbing down to Dower. The Coast Guard doctor tells Ray that Bliss needs to get to a hospital immediate. The cutter signals out to Ray’s pilot friend Speed Bradshaw (Randolph Scott) flies out to cutter to take Bliss to the hospital.
The following morning Speed and Ray go to the hospital to check on Bliss. They have never done so before with anyone else they saved but Ray feels he should with this guy. Speed, ever the ladies man, does not even make it to Bliss’s room when he sees a couple of nurses he the hallway that he must go flirt with. When Ray walks in the room he sees Bliss’s granddaughter Nancy (Dee) is there. Bliss falls asleep and for the rest of the afternoon Nancy and Ray talk and eat an entire box of candy.
Ray and Nancy start seeing each other. Ray brings her to a dance held on the base. He is nervous about having her meet Speed. The poor man fumbles all over the place the whole night. Speed tries to give his best friend a piece of advice. He tells Ray to bite Nancy in the neck. Thank God that scene does not happen. At the moment Ray goes to take his vampire bite an announcement comes through that all Coast Guard crews are to report immediately to duty.
While Ray is away Speed and Nancy become close. Speed does everything in his power to sell his best friend to Nancy but it is no use. Nancy is now in love with Speed. He tries to tell her that Ray is the safe one he is not he is no good for her. Nancy being a silly woman does not care she is completely in love. When Ray comes home he sees Nancy come to pick Speed up from the base and they kiss.
Soon Nancy and Speed are married. He desperately wants to settle down in a house with his wife. One night Ray does not come home like he promised. Nancy waits and waits for him. On the request of Bliss, Ray goes to visit Nancy since they have not seen each other seen the wedding. He can see that Nancy is upset and the mood is a bit awkward. Finally in the early morning Speed comes home. Nancy was lying awake on their bed. To make up for his night away he has brought her a bottle of perfume. Soon the whole dresser top is filled with bottles of perfume.
Nancy has had enough of Speed staying out late and leaving her home alone. She tells him she is leaving before she begins to hate him. For months Speed is on the rock he is so upset. Nancy moves back in with her grandfather. Ray comes by the house every now and then to see them. One day he tells Nancy he is leaving for Alaska and will not be back for some time. At the same moment Speed is flying in the area of the house. He gets close to the house and begins to fly his plane recklessly to get Nancy’s attention. He puts the plane into a dive too close to the water and he cracks one of the wings. The head of Coast Guard is furious with Speed and puts him a suspension.
In Alaska, Ray gets lost after he tried to run after a stray dog from the sled. The only man that knows Alaska well and would be able to save Ray is Speed. Speed keeps refusing to go. Finally he gives in once Nancy comes to him and pleads with him to rescue their friend.
Ray is thankfully saved by his best friend. When Speed arrives home Nancy is waiting for him.
I liked the cast a lot. Frances Dee was such a good actress. I do not think, in the few films I have seen her, she is ever cast poorly with a leading man. Dee worked so well with both Randolph Scott and Ralph Bellamy. I liked Dee so much with Bellamy I wish their characters had wound up together. Bellamy always gets the girl stolen from him in his later films. Scott was just charming and beautiful I honestly do not blame Dee for wanting him! All three actors were perfect in their parts. And so were all the supporting and extra characters.
There was an incredibly adorable scene I must write about. Speed and Nancy come back to their apartment after their wedding. Nancy is a little upset that they cannot go on a honeymoon anywhere since Speed always has to be on call. Speed sees his new wife is upset. He takes a hand truck the porter was going to use to put the luggage on to bring into the apartment and puts Nancy on it. Speed then pretends he is taking his wife all around the world and both of them point out different cities and what they would see in each one. You would have to see it because both Randolph Scott and Frances Dee were beyond adorable. The whole scene was really creative and very, very well done.
I also laughed a bit in one scene. Speed and his copilot are about to take off. The copilot takes out his chewed up gum and sticks it on the plane. Speed sees what his friend did and asks why he did it. The copilot says “I saw Spencer Tracy do it in a picture.” He was talking about Tracy’s 1938 film Test Pilot with Myrna Loy and Clark Gale. Test Pilot is one of my all time favorite classic films so I thought the small mention was awesome.
Coast Guard aired on TCM some time ago. If the channel ever airs Coast Guard it is worth seeing.