Cast & Crew
Matt Peasley and his co-worker, Skinner, have nearly bankrupted the Ricks Navigation and Lumber Company in the five years since the owner, Alden "Cappy" Ricks retired and left them in charge. Cappy returns to work after his chief rival, patent roofing manufacturer T. Osgood Blake, sponsors an act prohibiting wooden shingles. The act, which will become law in fifteen days, will seriously damage the lumber industry, and the only way to stop it is to create a referendum by obtaining fifty thousand signatures from registered voters. Skinner and Matt are pessimistic, especially when they must admit to Cappy that they fired his best man, "go-getter" Bill Peck. Bill is on an ocean liner when he receives a message from Cappy to return, so he jumps overboard and "shiphikes" to shore. Meanwhile, Blake is also at the dock to meet his daughter Barbara. He is accompanied by his slick lawyer, Spencer Winton, who is in love with Barbara. When Blake and Winton realize that Cappy has put Bill on the case, they get nervous, and Barbara, out of curiosity about Bill, agrees to go undercover and spy on him. Barbara applies for a job as Bill's secretary, and after he hires her, he gets down to business. Knowing that he is the better speaker, Winton persuades the impetuous Bill to debate before the Associated Women's Clubs. On the day of the debate, Winton smoothly presents his argument that the patent roofing material never catches fire, and all seems lost for Bill until Winton demonstrates a sample of the material, upon which Cappy has unwittingly spilled lighter fluid. The sample goes up in flames, after which the audience overwhelmingly supports Bill. With two days left before the signatures are due, things look promising until Bill's soliciters are robbed of their signatures. When Bill investigates, he also is beaten and his briefcase, stolen. Later that afternoon, Bill discovers Barbara's true identity and, despite his growing affection for her, assumes that she is the spy who is responsible for the attacks. Bill is expecting the final shipment of signatures to arrive that night. In order to protect them, he substitutes a batch of phonies, which are stolen by a gang of Winton's toughs who attack Bill's office. Meanwhile, Cappy is on the waterfront assembling an army of his old sailing buddies, and they go to Bill's rescue. Barbara escapes from the brawl and tells her father that she is sorry she helped him now that he advocates using violence. Bill gets the valid signatures to the capital on time, and the referendum is passed. Bill is unhappy, however, until Cappy tells him that Winton's spy was Bill's bookkeeper, Jenks, not Barbara. Cappy then reunites Bill and Barbara and has the last laugh on Blake.
Man Mountain Dean
Although the film's pressbook notes that the picture is based on Peter B. Kyne's collection of short stories Cappy Ricks Comes Back, it also variously states that the source material was an original story written by Kyne for Republic and a short story by Kyne entitled "It Shall Be Done." Also according to the pressbook, the character of Cappy Ricks was based on Robert Dollar, who was "for many years a leading figure in Pacific coast lumber and shipping circles," and the character of Matt Peasley was "suggested by Captain Matt Peasley, who, at the present time, is master of a steamship in the Pacific Coast lumber trade." A Hollywood Reporter news item notes that the picture was filmed on location in San Pedro, CA. According to Box Office, this was the first film Mack Wright directed for Republic.
Other films based on Kyne's stories about Cappy Ricks include Cappy Ricks, the 1921 Famous Players-Lasky version directed by Tom Forman and starring Thomas Meighen and Charles Abbe; The Go-Getter, a 1923 Cosmopolitan picture directed by E. H. Griffith and starring T. Roy Barnes and William Norris; and More Pay-Less Work, a 1926 Fox production directed by Albert Ray and starring Albert Gran and Mary Brian (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0771, F2.2135 and F2.3700). Republic produced another film based on Kyne's works, Affairs of Cappy Ricks, in 1937, and Warner Bros. made The Go-Getter, also in 1937 (see below).