» » Shipmates Forever (1935)

Short summary

Dick is watching the fleet come in when he sees June. Dick has no intention of joining the Navy, which is a family tradition, and June, having lost her father and brother in the Navy, does not want a Navy man. But Dick relents when his father says that he would not make it anyway and he enters the Naval Academy. The first year as a plebe is tough, but Dick is at the head of his class. He rooms alone, as he sees no need for friends as he plans to resign when he graduates. June has also changed her mind about Dick being at the Academy. The second year is the same, except for his old roommate Lawrence who washes out. Finally, the last year and he has a three month training cruise. This cruise will make or break Dick as a Navy man.

Near the end of the movie, there is a great shot of a Martin P3M-2 seaplane landing in the ocean. Markings on the side of the plane show a "6". There were only 6 P3M-2's built.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Buriwield
    SHIPMATES FOREVER (Warner Brothers, 1935) cashes in on the recent success of FLIRTATION WALK (1934), set in West Point, reuniting Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Ross Alexander, John Arledge, Frederick Burton,  with Frank Borzage as their director, in a Navy themed product filmed on location at Annapolis, Maryland. As with FLIRTATION WALK, SHIPMATES FOREVER centers mostly upon Powell, not so much for his crooning, but his ability as a serious actor and ladies man. Although labeled a musical, the movie emphases more on plot than tunes, and contains more tearful/ sentimental moments than comedy, thus being a true departure for both Powell or Keeler, best known for their backstage musicals with Busby Berkeley dance numbers and gold digging chorus girls.

    The scenario has Powell playing Richard John "Dick" Melville III, singer at the Sky Club in New York City, who would rather be entertaining than serving in the Navy as traditionally expected of him by his admiral father (Lewis Stone). Dick meets and immediately falls in love with June Blackburn (Ruby Keeler), a dancing teacher for little children, who also comes from a long line of Navy relatives. With the intention of taking his Navy entrance exam to show his father he can pass it, and not entering the academy, Dick has a change of heart and enters the academy anyway, but with the intention of throwing away his commission in the end. Dick soon resents the friendship of his fellow roommates and rooms alone after plebe year. Basically a loner and a disappointment to his father, Dick's only companion happens to be June. After risking his life saving a fellow shipmate, Johnny "Coxwain" Lawrence (John Arledge) from an exploding boiling room, Dick becomes a hero to his fellow shipmates, but it will be at graduation to show whether or not Dick has the making being a true Navy man.

    Also in the cast are Robert Light (Ted Sterling); Eddie Acuff ("Cowboy" Lincoln); Dick Foran (Gifford); and Mary Treen (Cowboy's Girlfriend); Of the supporting players, it's Ross Alexander who adds some good doses of comedy as Lafayette "Sparks" Brown from Arkansas. His one scene where he successfully sneaks in a radio into his room during plebe year under the noses of his superiors should gather up few chuckles, especially when being too close to call.

    When I first watched SHIPMATES FOREVER on Memorial Day weekend on Turner Network Television (TNT) back in 1989, I actually didn't care for it mainly because I was expecting a big song and dance/ flag waving, military musical in the tradition of BORN TO DANCE or FOLLOW THE FLEET (both 1936), or possibly an overblown lavish scale production in the manner of MGM's ANCHOR'S AWEIGH (1945) with Keeler tap dancing galore and Powell leading a parade of singing sailors, but after repeated viewing whenever shown on Turner Classic Movies, I find that SHIPMATES FOREVER breaks away from the usual military musical clichés, and truly believe it holds up better than FLIRTATION WALK mainly due to its realistic way Navy life is depicted.

    With tunes by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, including "Don't Give Up the Ship," "I'd Love to Take Orders From You" and the charming "I'd Rather Listen to Your Eyes," the songs grow tiresome after being re-prised two or three times. While Keeler never tap danced in FLIRTATION WALK, she doesn't sing a note in SHIPMATES FOREVER, yet shows off her dancing skill in two brief sequences, one in a dancing school to the amazement of her students (The Meglin Kiddies), and another at the Sky Club. In spite of several time outs for a song, there are no production numbers at all. Reportedly distributed in theaters at 124 minutes, it's the 109 minute print that's currently in circulation on the TV markets. While Powell recruited to military duty as THE SINGING MARINE (1937), he would make a return engagement into the Navy once again, co-starring opposite the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello for IN THE NAVY (Universal, 1941). 

    Trivia: The theme to SHIPMATES FOREVER was reworked as a 1939 military programmer titled ON DRESS PARADE (WB, 1939) starring The Dead End Kids, with Leo Gorcey assuming the role originally enacted by Powell, but minus the singing. (** Bells)
  • comment
    • Author: Swift Summer
    I first saw this film over 40 years ago and viewing it again it was as good as I remember it. The team that brought you Flirtation Walk, director Frank Borzage and stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler did even better in my opinion with their film about a Naval Midshipman at Annapolis and his lady love.

    Like Flirtation Walk, both Powell and Keeler come from service families. But Powell's a disappointment to his father, Admiral Lewis Stone. He's a crooner on the radio and from what we see is making a pretty good living at it. Still a combination of persuasive techniques by Stone and Keeler get him to follow in the Naval tradition of his family.

    For reasons I don't understand Ruby did not dance a step in Flirtation Walk, but she makes up for it here. It was a weakness in the other film that is now remedied.

    Dick Powell got two lovely ballads to sing, I'd Rather Listen To Your Eyes and I'd Love to Take Orders from You. Possibly because he was changing record companies from Brunswick to Decca in 1935 he didn't record either of those songs commercially. That's a pity because he does them so well.

    What he did record was the song Don't Give Up the Ship with an orchestra and choral background. That song had a lot of popularity, so much so that the Naval Academy at Annapolis adopted it as their official song, something I'm sure Dick Powell and songwriters Harry Warren and Al Dubin must have been proud of.

    Like he did with Flirtation Walk, Frank Borzage got to do some location shooting for Shipmates Forever at Annapolis and on the battleship, USS Pennsylvania. It certainly made for a far more realistic setting than in most Thirties films.

    Unlike Flirtation Walk which was more upbeat, Shipmates Forever has the death of one of Powell's classmates which certainly lent a somber, but more realistic note to the proceedings.

    Ross Alexander, Eddie Acuff, and John Arledge play Powell's roommates and all do good jobs in roles they are usually typecast in. Shipmates Forever is one of Dick Powell's best Warner Brothers musicals from the Thirties and its charm is eternal.
  • comment
    • Author: Velellan
    The Warner Brothers gang is back again, and this time they're out to sea. Richard Melville III (Dick Powell) comes from a long time of Navy men. His father (Lewis Stone) is commander of the fleet and expects that his son will follow in his footsteps. Dick doesn't want to; in fact, he has become quite successful as a crooner on the radio. And besides, his girl (Ruby Keeler) doesn't want her husband to turn out dead like her Navy brother and father. Now before you start having flashes of The Jazz Singer, read on. Dick decides to give his father's way a try, but he is stubborn enough to isolate himself during his training. It is too bad too, because his father knows how he could benefit from the company of guys like Sparks (Ross Alexander), Cowboy (Eddie Acuff), and Coxswain (John Arledge).

    A really great film, Shipmates Forever is undeniably similar to Flirtation Walk not only for the cast or the story but the director Frank Borzage too. However, the similarities are no hindrance and this second chance has actually improved upon the original. It features a great many more comic moments which liven it tremendously. Alexander is always good for a laugh, and it is too bad he took his own life only a few years later. Perhaps the funniest and most shocking moment is during a "I'd Rather Listen To Your Eyes." Powell's crooning draws all of the women, and a series of Busby Berkeley-esquire close-ups on their eyes illustrates the melody. That is, until a pair of men's eyes pop up! Other songs include the Warren and Dubin standards "Don't Give Up The Ship" and "I'd Love To Take Orders From You." It is a wonder why this one has never been released.
  • comment
    • Author: Rias
    first movie i ever saw in person. i was very impressed and, although only five, i was ready to enlist in the navy. i have seen it several times since then and still think it is a good movie. although some might think it dated and anachronistic it still has a good deal to say about duty and honor. those things are in short supply today.
  • comment
    • Author: post_name
    While this film has a few very familiar clichés and Dick Powell is way too old to play a college freshman, it is an enjoyable film....and one I recommend.

    When the film begins, Dick (Dick Powell) is visiting his father, the Admiral (Lewis Stone). Their meeting is a bit tense, as the Admiral longs for his son to join the Navy and make a man of himself. Dick is more content to be a successful singer. Additionally, Dick's lady (Ruby Keeler) likes that Dick isn't in the Navy, as her family has a long naval history...and she's lost a couple close loved ones during the war. Inexplicably, Dick suddenly reverses himself and joins the Naval Academy!! This DEFINITELY came from out of no where and soon he's in Annapolis doing everything but going to classes. Like most college films of the era, they never show any of the men going to classes! Instead, Dick is hazed and he remains aloof from the other cadets. After all, he has no intention of staying in the Navy for long. And, not surprisingly, the Admiral is ashamed to call him his son. Can Dick redeem himself and gain a sense of camaraderie? Or will he remain a bit of a butt-head? What do you think?

    This film follows a very familiar pattern seen in many film (such as "A Yank at Eton" and even "A Chump at Oxford" to an extent). But it manages to do it very well...better than I'd expected. Much of this is due to Powell's nice performance and much of it is the nice location shooting...aboard ships and at the Academy. Worth seeing even if the picture is a bit dated and predictable.
  • comment
    • Author: Dangerous
    Surprisingly good pre-war film about a former radio crooner (that's a singer to you Millennials). Dick Powell finds himself trying to deal with military life at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. This was an enjoyable Hollywood look at their take on life of a cadet moving through Annapolis. He has a poor attitude, but does well with his studies. But, has few friends and little support amongst his fellow cadets. He's seen as having a silver spoon. It was refreshing to finally see a film get when NOT to salute correct in a film. It's one of the things that Hollywood just can't seem to get right. They like to have actors throwing salutes around willy nilly. When actually there are rules. They don't give an accurate account of how tough four years at the United States Military academies can be. But there are some good characters and it's well acted. And you find yourself caring for the characters.
  • comment
    • Author: Dynen
    'Shipmates Forever' shares the same flaws and strengths of 'Flirtation Walk' with the same lead actors and director, but due to having better pacing and choreography 'Flirtation Walk' is the better film if only just.

    Like 'Flirtation Walk', the weak link is the story, which is wafer-thin and goes well overboard on the simplicity. One says that musical-comedies shouldn't be seen for the story, but as 'Shipmates Forever' is heavier on story rather than on the musical material and production numbers it is harder to ignore it. Again, like 'Flirtation Walk', Frank Borzage tends to make heavy weather of it, meaning that the pace does drag outside of the songs and the energy is not as light-on-its-feet as it should have been. The patriotic tone is sometimes laid on too thick too.

    The songs are very pleasant, with the highlights between "Don't Give Up the Ship" and particularly "I'd Rather Listen to Your Eyes", but there are more timeless and more memorable songs. The film is very scant on production numbers and what little there is is literally crying out for the involvement of Busby Berkeley who would have directed them with much more energy and imagination.

    However, 'Shipmates Forever' while not lavish still looks handsome and colourful as well as skilfully photographed. The script is smart and amusing, if a little too frothy in places.

    Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell are immensely likable and their chemistry is incredibly charming and a large part of the film's appeal. The rest of the performances are also good, with a fine supporting turn from John Arledge and a nicely quirky one from Ross Alexander.

    On the whole, a lesser Keeler-Powell film but still very much watchable. 6/10 Bethany Cox
  • comment
    • Author: Ishnsius
    An enjoyable if slightly sappy movie with a fairly standard plot line.

    Notably, the song from this film "Shipmates Stand Together" is still performed as part of a medley by the US Naval Academy Men's Glee Club.

    Speaking about the music from the film, the US Military Academy's Alma Mater (that's Navy's gridiron rival West Point!) is used as background music at least three times, including in the closing scene.

    Interesting goof, possibly intentional?

    The scenes dealing with the upperclassmen "rating" the Plebes are fun; they are different in detail but not in quality from what goes on at the Academy even today.

    Of the movies available on VHS or DVD about the Naval Academy, I would rank this about in the middle:

    1. Navy Blue and Gold (1937) 2. Midshipman Jack (1933) 3. Shipmates Forever 4. An Annapolis Story (1955) - pretty bad. 5. Annapolis (2006) - truly dreadful.
  • comment
    • Author: Mozel
    In New York, popular crooner and radio star Dick Powell (as Richard "Dick" Melville) meets tap-dancer Ruby Keeler (as June Blackburn) at a Navy celebration. As you would expect, they are mutually attracted. Helping the relationship considerably is the fact that both Mr. Powell and Ms. Keeler have soured on their US Navy connections. Powell wants to continue his singing career and resists Navy admiral father Lewis Stone (as Richard Melville), who wants his boy to continue a long family tradition. Having lost both a father and brother to Navy service, Keeler agrees Powell should keep his distance...

    In order to prove he can make the grade, Powell predictably applies to the Navel Academy at Annapolis. Though he intended otherwise, Powell eventually joins the Navy as a midshipman. Keeler makes a few appearances, coming to terms with her family tragedies through Powell's experience...

    Director Frank Borzage and the Warner Bros. team are equipped with plenty of location and stock footage, but too much of it is padding; this film's appeal would be greater with some trimming. Helping the formulaic Delmer Daves story is a colorfully introduced trio of "Shipmates Forever" - Ross Alexander (as Lafayette "Sparks" Brown) from Arkansas, Eddie Acuff (as Lincoln "Cowboy") from Texas and John Arledge (as Johnny "Coxswain" Lawrence) from Arizona. Robert Light (as Ted Sterling) is also on board. Best supporting actor is Mr. Arledge, who gets the best-written role and sails away with the film.

    ****** Shipmates Forever (10/12/35) Frank Borzage ~ Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, John Arledge, Ross Alexander
  • comment
    • Author: watchman
    Dick Powell is the cynical, privileged radio crooner who enlists at the Naval Academy for unpersuasive reasons (to impress his Naval officer father, Lewis Stone (LEWIS STONE?), alienates his roommates, and eventually becomes a hero, winning the love of Ruby Keeler, who's so virtuous that she teaches tap dancing to underprivileged kids. Like any number of military movies where the cadet has to learn humility to get his comeuppance, this one treads a familiar path, and indulges along the way in some remarkably contemporary political ideology: If you don't give the armed services your full support regardless of the sacrifice involved or the reasons behind the battle, you're a coward. Frank Borzage, who was best known for dewy but sincere romance, doesn't seem very interested in the material, though there's some nice Annapolis location photography and a couple of pleasant Harry Warren tunes. But it's not really a musical, just a rah-rah patriotic drama with songs, and Powell, who hated the typecasting he was subjected to at Warners, looks miserable throughout.
  • comment
    • Author: Zinnthi
    There's a lot to like in SHIPMATES FOREVER, but it's really a treat for DICK POWELL's fans with him singing a batch of songs (only a couple are really catchy), with generous close-ups of pert and pretty RUBY KEELER as the gal who can't make up her mind about the sailor she loves.

    Keeler is only given a couple of tapping moments, which is fine with me. I have to agree with the book "Warner Bros. Presents" which describes her as "conspicuously untalented" but managing to be "endearing" nevertheless.

    It's the formula story about a young man whose father is a Navy veteran (LEWIS STONE) and thinks his son should follow in his footsteps. The son happens to be a popular radio crooner who only half-heartedly joins the service just to prove that he can pass the officer's exam. The predictable plot follows a standard course with the boy winning the love of the girl by the time we reach the final reel.

    Powell gets to demonstrate that he had a flair for carrying a tune although his voice is nothing remarkable. He's pleasant to watch and handles the acting chores with professional ease.

    I can't say the same for ROSS Alexander who mugs through his role as comedy relief, but JOHN ARLEDGE does a fine job as an ill-fated sailor friend who attempts to put out a boiler room fire.

    Touches of drama are better than the humorous interludes, so it's an uneven film, to say the least, directed by Frank Borzage who usually does much more sentimental romances than patriotic musicals like this one.
  • comment
    • Author: Viashal
    Frank Borzage is my favorite American director of the thirties (and of the twenties).His movies have worn so well ,his heroes are so endearing that I'm deeply moved every time I watch one of them.

    But this one....It may be "flirtation walk 2" but it has nothing of the greatness that shows in almost every work of the director:is it the same man who made "the mortal storm" ,"three comrades " (a paean to friendship which is far superior to "Shipmates forever") "Little man,what now?" "man's castle" ?It seems the negation of such works as "no greater glory" or " a farewell to arms" .

    Borzage 's heroes have to fight against an hostile world ("seventh Heaven" "street angel" "little man what now?") they are sweet rebels whose weapon is love and only love.Borzage's girls are not bimbos ,they are sometimes stronger than their male co-stars (see "the river" or "stranded" or "After tomorrow").

    Dick Powell's Richard is terribly bourgeois ,terribly conformist.Either he is stupid not to follow his dream (crooning) or he is the worthy (Hollywoodian) son from the start .Even more unpleasant is Ruby Keeler's June :not only she lost her father and her brother (in the navy) but she would not accept to marry Richard if he gave up the academy;an user smartly pointed out that it was exactly the subject of Taylor Hackford's "an officer and a gentleman" (1981),but it does not make "shipmates forever" a movie ahead of its time.Sorry to write this ,but this well-meaning jingoistic couple has nothing to do with most of all Borzage's lovers.

    Since it's a musical,Dick Powell sings four or five songs (depending on the version you're watching,the restored one lasting 2 hours+).Borzage's touch can be felt in one short sequence: the shipmate who failed his exams in the officer's office and his harsh words to the hero (who gets what he deserves anyway).

    To make a movie about the navy just after another one called "stranded " (in the figurative ,of course) is it a bit ironical on the director's part?In spite of its title,in "stranded" ,the heroine is not a passive sluggish navy girl "who comes second" like June who is nothing but a human medal.
  • comment
    • Author: Wizer
    Believe you me, 6/10 is a generous mark for this disappointing malarkey from Warner Brothers, which finds director Frank Borzage at Annapolis Naval Academy. I liked Borzage very much, but he was always inclined to go overboard on sentiment unless restrained by a bullying producer. In this one, Frank was given the green light by a producer who allowed him to wallow in sentiment so long as he kept the movie's overall costs to a minimum. Needless to say, Frank took full advantage of the producer's offer. "Shipmates Forever" absolutely wallows in sentiment. True, Borzage's craftsmanship cannot be faulted. Indeed, on one or two occasions, it is even a little inventive. But alas, on far, far too many occasions, "Shipmates Forever" is just plain boring. Admittedly, we must also point an accusing finger at Delmer Daves who allegedly wrote this cliché- ridden rubbish. And alas, there are two more big disappointments, I feel I should draw to your attention before you rush out and buy the DVD. I know all you Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler fans (in which I include myself) will buy the DVD anyway, but be warned that expert photographer Sol Polito presumably hated Ruby Keeler and has made her look absolutely awful. In fact, I would give this movie my number one award for the Most Unatractively Photographed Heroine ever (although admittedly it doesn't look half as vicious on DVD as it does on a big movie screen). At twelve reels, the movie runs far too long. Even the songs by the topflight team, Harry Warren and Al Dubin, are, to say the least second rate, uninspired, forgettable...
  • Complete credited cast:
    Dick Powell Dick Powell - Richard John 'Dick' Melville III
    Ruby Keeler Ruby Keeler - June Blackburn
    Lewis Stone Lewis Stone - Adm. Richard Melville
    Ross Alexander Ross Alexander - Lafayette 'Sparks' Brown
    Eddie Acuff Eddie Acuff - Lincoln 'Cowboy'
    Dick Foran Dick Foran - Gifford
    John Arledge John Arledge - Johnny 'Coxswain' Lawrence
    Robert Light Robert Light - Ted Sterling
    Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
    Joyce Oliver Joyce Oliver
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