Cast & Crew
J. Farrell Macdonald
After Danny Dolan, a police officer newly assigned to the harbor precinct, rescues a drunk who has fallen into the water at New York's Pier 13, Danny is promoted to detective. The detective who was with Danny at the time, Al, is reprimanded because after he fell into the water as Danny was rescuing the drunk, some mobsters whom Al was sent to watch got away. Duke Castenega, the leader of the gang, visits his ex-lover, Kate Riley, at the bank where she works, and although she is about to be married, she realizes that she still loves Duke, who plans to get a list of combination numbers for safe deposit boxes from her. Kate's sister Helen, who works at a chowder house by the pier, has enjoyed bantering with Danny since he began his beat. After Kate marries Eddie Collins, and Duke is arrested, Duke's brother Baby Face visits Kate and urges her to give him the list of numbers. Danny and Al come to the wedding party because of complaints of noise, and Danny is greatly relieved to learn that it was Helen's sister, and not Helen, who got married. Duke is sent to prison, and when Eddie has to go to Cuba, Baby Face tries to force Kate to give him the numbers, but she refuses. During a date with Helen, Danny turns out the lights and tries to kiss her, but she slaps him and he leaves in a huff. Later, Danny apologizes to Helen, and he confesses that things are hard for men: if they don't try to neck, he says, women will think they are too slow; while if they do, they think they are fresh. She says it is the same for a woman: if she lets a guy "maul" her, he will think she's no good; while if she doesn't, he will think she's old-fashioned. They realize that they have fallen in love and kiss. After Duke escapes from prison, Danny's captain offers a promotion, and the newspapers offer a $10,000 reward for Duke's capture. Duke hides in Kate's attic, and Eddie's father Sarge, a paralytic who can only blink to communicate, sees them together. After Helen agrees to marry Danny, Sarge tries to communicate that Duke is in the attic. Danny and Helen plan to get a Morse code book the next day to see what he is trying to tell them. Duke and his gang invade the home of a family living just above a bank, and after drilling through their floor, and using a blow torch to blast through the bars, iron vault and safe deposit boxes, they escape with $87,000. Meanwhile, Helen deciphers Sarge's message and runs to Kate's home. Danny finds a carbon of the message and follows. After Helen orders Duke to leave, Danny arrives. She pleads with him not to arrest Duke in the house to protect her sister, but he angrily refuses, upset that she wasn't "square" with him. Duke hides in the attic, but Danny breaks through the skylight and shoots him as he tries to escape. Danny then tells his captain that he chased Duke from Pier 13, and that Duke broke into Kate's apartment. Kate cries as she thanks Duke, and he warns her to stick to Eddie. After Helen and Danny marry, they escape the celebration and head to the pier, where they plan to leave for Bermuda. Eddie, Kate, Pop Riley and Sarge follow, however. Danny, who shares the reward money with Sarge, tells him it is nice that he did not tip off Eddie about Kate.
J. Farrell Macdonald
Henry B. Walthall
Jesse De Vorska
Frank J. Dolan
James F. Hanley
Joe La Shelle
Albert A. Price
Me and My Gal
In Me and My Gal, Tracy plays an Irish cop who pursues wisecracking lunch-counter cashier Bennett. (Sample dialogue: "Didn't I meet you somewhere?" "I've been somewhere.") Bennett's sister (Marion Burns), meanwhile, shelters her gangster ex-boyfriend (George Walsh, brother of Raoul), in the attic of her paralyzed father-in-law, who can only communicate by blinking in Morse code.
The film features lots of boisterous comedy ranging from slapstick and sharp dialogue to a sophisticated satire of an art movie of the time. In one scene, the script pokes fun at Strange Interlude (1932), an MGM film starring Clark Gable and Norma Shearer that was released the same year. In that film (as in the Eugene O'Neill play on which it was based), characters' thoughts are heard as voiceovers. In Me and My Gal, Tracy tells Bennett he just saw a film whose title he can't remember, though he thinks it might have been Strange Inner Tube -- and then his and Bennett's thoughts are heard on screen comically as they keep conversing. (For the record, the O'Neill play was also memorably lampooned by Groucho Marx in Animal Crackers .)
Me and My Gal was based on a story entitled Pier 13 and was filmed under that title in nineteen days. Overall it scored well with critics and audiences. The New York Times described it as "a racy combination of comedy and melodrama.... [It] has the advantage of Mr. Walsh's vigorous imagination and bright lines... Miss Bennett, even though she chews gum throughout most of the scenes, is very attractive and...gives a vivacious performance. Mr. Tracy is alert and efficient."
One negative review came from the trade paper Variety, which declared: "Aside from the weakness of the picture as entertainment, it has no natural box office elements. Virtually nothing to hang a campaign on and the names alone of Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett on a marquee will not mean much, if anything.... Fox has been trying for some time now to build up both Tracy and Miss Bennett at box office. They might get somewhere with better stories, but they'll have to top Me and My Gal a long distance before the names begin to take."
Of course, the primary attraction of the movie 80 years on is the very presence of Tracy and Bennett, along with director Raoul Walsh. Tracy in particular handles quite well both the comedic and dramatic aspects of the story, bringing his easygoing naturalism to the cop character, and lending him not just toughness and conceit but also sympathy and compassion. This was the only film on which Walsh would work with Tracy, though Walsh directed Joan Bennett in two other pictures -- Wild Girl (1932) and Big Brown Eyes (1936).
Tracy and Bennett, on the other hand, had already been paired on She Wanted a Millionaire (1932) and would team up again twenty years later for Father of the Bride (1950) and Father's Little Dividend (1951). The two stars had been acting in movies for about the same length of time; though Bennett started a bit earlier, their careers really got going in 1930.
In her memoir (written with Lois Kibbee), Bennett wrote that Me and My Gal was the only memorable film of the six she made in 1932. Of Spencer Tracy, she wrote: "Working with [him] was a huge treat. I remember him as a rather private person, taciturn, though he had a delicious sense of humor. He teased me unmercifully, and it always pleased him when I rose to the bait, which was most of the time. There was one thing that seemed contradictory to his rugged screen image: he dressed impeccably, sartorially splendid at all times.
"Spencer was known in Hollywood as an 'actor's actor,' and his intense powers of concentration were legendary. I never had the feeling that he was acting, but that the truth of the scene occurred at the very moment he spoke, and no matter how many times we repeated a scene, that spontaneity was always there. Like George Arliss, he was extremely meticulous in his work and methodical in his schedule. He took two hours for lunch and quit every day at five o'clock, and that was that. I worked with Spencer several times after that, and it was always stimulating and rewarding for me."
Bennett biographer Brian Kellow later wrote that the making of Me and My Gal "was pure pleasure for Joan. She was fascinated by Tracy's disdain for rehearsal. He always came to the set with his lines letter-perfect and saw no real reason to rehearse, fearing it would rob his performance of spontaneity... Me and My Gal marked the beginning of a distinct pattern that would run throughout Joan's career. Given a good director, such as Raoul Walsh, she responded with a fine performance. But if she was stuck with an indifferent script and a director who was no more than a traffic cop, her performance could be clumsy and inert.... But for much of the 1930s, Joan's lack of assertiveness meant that she was stuck playing bland ingénue parts."
Fox remade Me and My Gal in 1940 as Pier 13, starring Lloyd Nolan and Lynn Bari.
Director: Raoul Walsh
Screenplay: Philip Klein, Barry Conners (story); Arthur Kober; Frank Dolan, Philip Dunne, Charles Vidor, Alfred A. Cohn
Cinematography: Arthur Miller
Art Direction: Gordon Wiles
Film Editing: Jack Murray (uncredited)
Cast: Spencer Tracy (Danny Dolan), Joan Bennett (Helen Riley), Marion Burns (Kate Riley), George Walsh (Duke), J. Farrell MacDonald (Pop Riley), Noel Madison (Baby Face), Henry B. Walthall (Sarge), Bert Hanlon (Jake), Adrian Morris (Allen), George Chandler (Eddie Collins).
by Jeremy Arnold
Joan Bennett and Lois Kibbee, The Bennett Playbill
Brian Kellow, The Bennetts: An Acting Family
Marilyn Ann Moss, Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director
Me and My Gal
The working title of this film was Pier 13. According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, the story was based in part on an episode in the 1920 Fox film entitled While New York Sleeps, original story by Charles J. Brabin and Thomas F. Fallon (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.4915). The episode, entitled "A Tragedy of the East Side," is about a married woman who hides her lover, a gangster, in the attic of her home as her father-in-law, a paralytic who cannot speak, watches. The legal files and news items indicate that William K. Howard, Alfred Werker and Marcel Varnel were set to direct Me and My Gal at various times before it went into production and that director Raoul Walsh completed the film in nineteen shooting days. The Hollywood Reporter review noted, "The rowdy, ribald humor in which Raoul Walsh specializes ... marks his direction." The film includes a parody of Strange Interlude, the film version of Eugene O'Neill's play, produced by M-G-M also in 1932, in which the thoughts of the characters were spoken aloud. On Danny's date with Helen, he mentions that he saw "a swell picture" last night called "Strange Inner Tube or something." In the following scene, the thoughts of both Danny and Helen are spoken in addition to their dialogue. Variety notes that the actor playing the drunk, whom they could not identify, did "one of the best stews of late on the screen." The actor, Will Stanton, soon became well-known for his portrayals of drunks. Actor George Walsh was the brother of the director. In her autobiography, Joan Bennett remarks that this was the only film of the six she made at Fox in 1932 that was not "unmemorable." A biography of Spencer Tracy notes that Tracy liked the story, which apparently was being developed for James Dunn and Sally Eilers, and requested that he and Bennett play the leads.
Included in the files for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library is a letter from the Cincinnati Better Motion Picture Council which complained of a number of scenes in the film, including the bank robbery scene, which they called "a facsimile of a recent outrage perpetrated in Chicago, in which occupants of an apartment building were terrorized by bandits in order to effect entry into the vaults below." No information has been located concerning the Chicago bank robbery. On October 30, 1935, after corresponding with the Hays Office, Twentieth Century-Fox withdrew their application for PCA certification for a reissue of the film. Twentieth Century-Fox produced a remake of this film in 1940 entitled Pier 13, which was directed by Eugene Forde and starred Lynn Bari and Lloyd Nolan (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3460).