Cast & Crew
At a Thames River pier, Lily and Jane Bell dive from The Adventurer , the barge on which they live, while George Gordon Bryan paints the scene. On her way to work, Jane stops to chat with Bryan, who tells her he is looking for a maid, and Jane suddenly decides to quit her job and go to work for Bryan. On her way home, she stops at the Black Swan tavern, where her father works as a musician, and is followed home by Ernest Higgins, who asks her out, but she declines. The next morning, Bryan awakes to find Jane washing his dishes and preparing his breakfast, and she tells him that she has come to work. That night, Jane meets another suitor, Fred Green, who asks her to row out in her dinghy the next time his family's canal boat comes by. Meanwhile, Lily returns home with her date, who insists on coming aboard. He becomes violent just as Fred and Jane arrive, and Fred intercedes, forcing the man to leave. The sisters learn that their father has lost his job. The next morning, Bryan tells Jane he wants to paint her while she cleans. Later, Fred's canal boat comes by, so Jane rows out to meet him. He asks her out again, but she explains she will be busy posing for Bryan. When Jane returns home, Lily correctly guesses that she is in love with Bryan. The next day, the Bell family goes to the racetrack, where Mr. Bell insists on betting £30. The next day, after Jane learns that Bryan is leaving for a three-week vacation, she returns home and finds her father gambling. She demands that he look for a job, but he confesses that he has already sold his cornet to cover his earlier loses. The next morning, Jane decides to go with Fred on the trip up the river. As they leave, Fred proposes to Jane, but she is not sure how she feels. The next morning, Fred proposes once more, but as Jane walks along the bank, she finds Bryan with his girlfriend, Fay Meadows. She decides to tell Fred she can't marry him and returns home alone, only to learn that Lily has married Ed "Bunny" Moss, a gambler she met at the races. Jane then finds a letter from Bryan stating that he is going abroad for a year. Later that same afternoon, Ernest proposes to Jane, and, heartbroken over Bryan's departure, she accepts. The two are married in a double wedding with their parents. The young couple moves aboard The Adventurer , and Ernest quickly becomes jealous of Fred's continuing friendship with Jane. Bryan returns and asks Jane to come back to work for him. Ernest picks a fight with Jane regarding Bryan and wrecks their cabin in a jealous rage. Back in his studio, Bryan paints Jane's portrait. Ernest later confronts Bryan and demands to know if Jane is posing for him. Bryan lies, but Ernest still insists that Jane quit her job. Jane defiantly goes back to the studio and tells Bryan that Ernest beats her, and the two kiss. At the Black Swan, Ernest loses to Bryan in the Hammersmith cup competition, and then begins a fight with Jane upon returning home. In her anger, she reveals that her portrait will be in Bryan's new exhibition. Ernest then leaves and ransacks Bryan's studio. Fearing for her life, Jane hides, and Ernest falls into the water searching for her and drowns. At his exhibition, Bryan rebuffs Fay and asks Jane to marry him. She refuses, saying that Fred was the right man for her after all.
The summary for this film is based on a cutting continuity. According to Motion Picture Herald, actor Peter Hannen died shortly after the completion of this film, which was released in Great Britain by RKO under the title Water Gipsies. Modern sources include Producer Basil Dean, Screenplay Basil Dean, Alma Reville, Miles Malleson and John Paddy Carstairs, Design Norman Arnold, Editing Otto Ludwig, Sound Marcus Cooper, Music Director Ernest Irving, Songs A. P. Herbert and Vivian Ellis and Camera Robert Martin and Robert de Grasse in the production. Hollywood Reporter reported on numerous, unsuccessful attempts to film other adaptations of the source material; British National announced their planned film in 1936; Hal Roach purchased the rights to the book in 1939, but was unable to begin location filming on the Thames River due to the Nazi bombing of England; RKO reacquired the rights in 1940, and announced planned productions in both 1940 and 1945, the later of which was designated as a Laraine Day vehicle.