Cast & Crew
Sailor Sanderson Norton and his pal Franz, "Bumpy" Jurgens, are trying to develop a gas turbine engine for boats. They leave the navy after one of their engines causes the admiral's boat to explode, then have trouble getting a job in civilian life. While rowing a small boat one day, they are accidentally hit by Shirley Jameson's yacht, and Shirley tries to help them out of the water. When Sandy starts to grab at the scantilly clad Shirley, she thinks he can't swim and knocks him unconscious to drag him aboard. Shirley's father, James D. Jameson, owns the financially troubled Jameson boatworks, which makes speed boats as well as large ships. Clarence Burton, Jameson's banker and prospective son-in-law, advises him to give up speed boats, but he is reluctant to do so.
When Shirley arrives at her father's office in Catalina, she asks him to give Sandy a job because she has become infatuated with him, but when she finds out that he really can swim, she becomes angry and kicks him off her boat, stranding him and Bumpy in Catalina. Faced with a possible stay in jail for vagrancy if they don't get a job, Sandy gets the idea to "borrow" Jameson's speed boats for an excursion race. The race proves extremely popular, even attracting Jameson himself, who doesn't reveal his name. He loves the ride and is impressed by Sandy's proposal for an ultra-fast racing boat with a new engine, so he hires Sandy, over the objections of Burton, who warns him that the venture could bankrupt him. Shirley then appeals to Sandy, who promises to talk her father out of the idea, but is unsuccessful. Shirley is furious, but later relents, knowing how much her father wants to win the upcoming America's Cup race.
Taking the new boat, Miss Victory , on a trial run, the men are trapped at sea when the boat catches fire, and Jameson is seriously injured. Shirley blames Sandy for the injury and subsequent business failure, although Jameson knows they were on the level. Sandy says he now knows what was wrong with the engine and wants to fix it before the race, and to prove his sincerity, he and Bumpy transfer their ownership rights to the engine to Jameson. He suggests that they ask for money to develop it from Burton, who refuses because he has secretly been ruining Jameson's business all along. When Sandy and Bumpy sneak aboard their boat, they see that its engine has been cleaned and reconditioned. Sandy then sneaks back to Burton's boat and overhears him offering money to a rumrunner to buy the boat when it goes up for auction. Then, pretending to be a policeman, Sandy raids a yacht on which liquor is being served and lets the owner "bribe" him out of arresting his guests, then leaves an I.O.U. for part interest in Miss Victory . After trying the scam a few more times, they finally have enough money to fix the engine, but Burton, meanwhile, has organized the victims, who offer a $10,000 reward for Sandy and Bumpy's capture, calling them "pirates."
Jameson still hopes they'll win the race, and even roots for them when they "kidnap" Shirley as she is about to marry Burton. Finally realizing that she really loves Sandy, Shirley helps them elude the water police. After some thugs try to kill Sandy and Bumpy, she discovers that Burton has been trying to sabotage the engine's success. During the race, when Miss Victory develops engine trouble, the police almost board, but they are unsuccessful and Sandy's boat wins, while Bumpy keeps it from losing too much gas. As they go to the winner's place, Jameson says he's planning to keep the pirate in the family, and all of the people who were given I.O.U.s withdraw the charges, including Burton, who is warned by Shirley that his bootlegging activities might be made public if he doesn't.
The pre-release title of the film was Let's Go. Much of the production was filmed on location in San Pedro and on Santa Catalina Island, CA. A Hollywood Reporter production chart listed David Newell in the cast, but his participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Race announcer Pete Smith, who played himself in the film, was the well-known narrator of many M-G-M short films in the 1930s and 1940s. A news item in Film Daily on November 10, 1932 erroneously called Ramon Novarro and Helen Hayes the leads in this film. Although the news item correctly noted the title change of the picture, Novarro and Hayes were actually starring together in a film called The Son-Daughter at the time. (see below). Fast Life marked the final feature film of actor Karl Dane (1886-1934).