Series: All Star Feature

Director: Sam Taylor
Producer: Hal Roach
Screenplay: Frank Butler
Photography: Jack MacKenzie
Editor: Bernard W. Burton
Art director: Stan Rogers

Stars: Robert Young, Evelyn Venable, Reginald Denny, Frank Craven, Berton Churchill, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Forrester Harvey
Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: 03 May 1935
Length: 8 reels (71 minutes)
Production No.: F-6
Filming dates: ?
Rating: 4/10

Vagabond Lady

Available on DVD:

Roger Spear arrives at his House Of Spear department store for the morning conference with a lot of kiss-ass employees and is angry to find the store opened a whole 1 minute and 58 seconds later that it ought to have. He is even more perplexed by the absence of one of his top employees, Mr. Spiggins, who is located sleeping in a bed in the bridal suite section of the building. Spiggins is summoned to Spear's office to be fired but surprisingly it's Spiggins who does the lecturing of his boss for his unreasonable working methods. The two almost get into a fight after Spiggins hears that his daughter Josephine, who is an employee with the company, is going to get married to Spear's son Johnny.
Spear's long-absent other son Tony arrives in his small boat, the 'Vagabond Lady', completely oblivious to a large ship which is attempting to dock in the exact same place. He then telephones his father to tell him he is on his way to the store. Spear instructs Johnny to stop him from doing so but it's too late, Tony turns up and immediately makes an impact with his exuberant personality. He is escorted up to the office away from the customers and later invited to join Johnny and Josephine for dinner and then the opera. At the restaurant Tony makes a fake telephone call to Johnny calling him back to the office so that Tony can take Josephine to the circus instead. The plan works. The next morning Tony comes clean to Johnny, who was already wise to the situation. Johnny tells Tony that he is going to marry Josephine and asks if Tony could look after her for a week.
Tony takes Josephine to an opera recital (it's a painful scene to watch AND listen to!) and then on to his boat at her request. She comes home to a hostile reception from her father who advises her against spending such quality time with Tony whilst she is engaged to his brother. She blows up and tells him to mind his own business. The next day Spiggings tries to pursuade Tony to marry Josephine instead of Johnny but Tony isn't interested. Johnny takes her out to dinner where they are joined by old friends of his, much to the chagrin of Josephine. As they sit and watch divers perform in a pool Tony gets slowly drunk and is dared by one of the girls to do a dive himself (see favourite bit). He does, and then pulls the girls in with him leading Josephine to get up and storm off out. Tony then gets into a punch up with two suits which ends up with him behind bars.
Johnny returns from his trip excited with the news that Josephine has agreed to marry him but the announcement doesn't go down well when Tony hears it. Things don't get any better for Tony when his father sees the newspaper detailing Tony's arrest and recent imprisonment and demands an explanation. Tony and Josephine argue and Tony storms off out vowing never to return. As the final arrangements for the wedding are being made, Josephine's father is making all effort to stop his daughter from making a mistake so he gets drunk and goes to talk to Tony on his boat. During their conversation Josephine turns up and gets the wrong idea that Tony is trying to sagotage her wedding and throws a major strop. Tony decides to get her to the wedding by way of his boat - against her will.
During the night a storm threatens the boat and with Corky and Spiggings drunk down below Tony has to enlist Josephine's help in keeping the vessel going. This soon ends up in a physical fight between them all over the boat until they fall into each others arms and start kissing. Corky sees this and kicks Tony off the boat as previously instructed to do in the event he sees Tony so much as touch her. The next morning and Josephine changes her mind and wants to marry Tony instead - that is until she discovers that he left the boat during the night and got picked up by a Japanese trawler boat. So she goes ahead with her planned wedding with Johnny. Johnny escapes the Japs boat and just coincidentally manages to get back onto his own boat, kick Corky into the sea before running off to get to the wedding which has just started. The now-sober Spiggings escorts his daughter to the alter with her eating on a gum drop to deliberately infuriate her husband-to-be.
The minister tries to read the wedding vows but is continually interrupted by the bickering pair who argue over Josephine chewing her sweet. This delay proves enough of a time delay for Tony to show up and stop the wedding and ask his brother if he is sure he wants to go through with the ceremony whilst verbally bashing Josephine in front of the guests. Johnny reluctantly agrees it is not what he wants and steps aside for Tony to take his place as Josephine's new husband (yeah as if we didn't see that coming). Johnny takes the smiling Josephine by the hand and leads her out of the hall as the film ends.

Favourite bit
As Tony walks up to the high diving board, fully clothed I kept thinking "nuh, he won't do it." I was wrong! Credit where credit is due. Don't know I would have done it!

Copyrighted May 2, 1935.
After the Irvin S. Cobb shorts failed, Roach convinced MGM to distribute an All Star feature film called "Vagabond Lady," which led to more of the same in the future.
Also listed for April 1, 1935.
The opening scene where Spear walks into the building and all the employees say good morning to him is reminiscent of a similar scene with Dan Ackroyd in the 1983 comedy 'Trading Places'.
The House Of Spear, established 1872 by Roger Spear - the actor playing the character of Spear wasn't even born then! Berton Churchill was born four years later in 1876.
The scene with the crowd on the docks welcoming home the ship was shot in front of rear-projected footage, as were many of the scenes with Tony speaking. The echo in his voice indicates that the scene was shot on a sound stage.
The title of the film refers to the name of Tony's boat, the Vagabond Lady.
Real-life husband and wife Dan Crimmins and Rosa Gore have small roles in the film: Crimmins is Willie the janitor, whilst Gore is one of the old ladies who receives the opera tickets from Tony.
With the indoor pool scenes, the deep end has a depth of 9 feet.
As annoying as Josephine is, when she dares Tony to strike her on the boat and he actually does... well, I didn't see that coming!
My opinion
I tried so hard to want to like this film. I really did. But Evelyn Venable's character is just so annoying!

Robert Young
Tony Spear
Evelyn Venable
Josephine Spiggins
Reginald Denny
Johnny Spear
Frank Craven
Berton Churchill
Roger D. Spear
Ferdinand Gottschalk
Forrester Harvey
Corky Nye
Mariska Aldrich
Wagnerial singer
Jessie Arnold
Helen, cleaning lady
Harry Bernard
Nora Cecil
Miss Perkins
Dorothy Vernon
Spear's office worker
Shirley Chambers
John's blonde secretary
Dan Crimmins
Willie, the janitor
Ray De Ravenne
Poolside waiter
Claire Du Brey
R.D.'s secretary
Harry Todd
Crabby clerk
John Elliott
Poolside Master of Ceremonies
Sam Flint
Ship's captain
Lee Phelps
Yelling ship official
Louis Natheaux
Third mate
Eric Mayne
Man at opera recital
Carrie Daumery
Woman at opera recital
William Wagner
Store detective
Ivan Linow
Man in manhole
Noah Young
Man in manhole
Grace Goodall
Miss Jones,
woman helping Jo
Billy Franey
Admiral, Tony's cellmate
Chester Gan
Japanese fisherman
Victor Wong
Japanese fisherman
Donald Haines
Spear office boy
Ferdinand Munier
Spear department head
Edgar Norton
Lewis, John's chauffeur
Jason Robards Sr.
John's best man
Nena Quartero
Lya Lys
Herb Vigran
Fred Walton
Minister at wedding
Rosa Gore
Woman given opera ticket
Dorothea Wolbert
Woman given opera ticket
Mary Gordon
Myrtle, cleaning mady
Harry Tenbrook
Sailor yelling through porthole
Fuzzy Knight
Swan, man with Pat
Gladys Gale
Shocked customer
Julia Griffith
Astonished store customer
Phyllis Crane
Giggling store customer
Lew Kelly
Tony's old crony
Robert Homans
Tony's old crony
Theodore Lorch
Dock official
Harry Dunkinson
Dock official
Lowden Adams
Spear's second butler
Beaudine Anderson
Messenger boy
Ed Armand
Elevator operator
Consuelo Baker
Max Barwyn
Cafe headwaiter
Vangie Beilby
Store customer
Herman Bing
Spear department head
Stanley Blystone
Hotel detective
Allen Connor
Spear elevator starter
Dulce Day
Richard Kipling
Dock official
Dock official
Wilfred Lucas
Dock official
Arthur Millett
Dock official
Charles K. French
Spear department head
Bea Nigro
Spear department head
Harry Northrup
Cafe doorman
Sam Godfrey
Spear department head
William Gould
Store detective
Arthur Hoyt
Spear department head
Eleanor Kingston
George Kirby
Spear's first butler
Ludwig Lowry
Poolside headwaiter
Rose Plumer
First old lady
Elizabeth Rhodes
Second old woman
Tom Ricketts
Spear department head
C. Montague Shaw
Hotel manager
Dorothy Stockmar
Ben Taggart
Hotel detective
Ellinor Vanderveer
Spear department head
Carol Wines
Store customer
Maid of honor
Frank LaRue
Wedding guest with toupee
Feodor Kolin
Bobbie Koshay


CREDITS (click image to enlarge)

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Richard Finegan (stills) (80 images)
Jack Tillmany (identification of Mariska Aldrich, Dorothy Vernon, Frank LaRue)
Jesse Brisson (identification of William Wagner, Harry Tenbrook, Fuzzy Knight, Julia Griffith, Phyllis Crane, Lew Kelly, Robert Homans)
Jim Clewer (identification of Gladys Gale)

This page was last updated on: 14 July 2021