It seems that reviews are in short supply for this film, and it’s no wonder. I’m sorry to anyone who has harbored a deep-seated love for this early 20th century flick, but I was very glad when the seventy minute film was over. My third silent film on this journey and already I have lost my passion for it. Maybe it is because when compared to “7th Heaven,” “A Ship Comes In” falls flat.
“A Ship Comes In” is another black and white silent film, and after watching this one, I have to be honest that I’m sort of dreading the rest of 1929. “7th Heaven” was an incredible way to start out–I adore that film! Although there were some impressive editing highlights in “A Ship Comes In,” I was very bored and unimpressed with the majority of it.
The film is about a family who immigrates to America. The father, Mr. Pleznik (Rudolph Schildkraut), is incredibly optimistic, and eager to become an American citizen. He gets a job as a janitor in a justice building and preciously tells his family that his boss is the emperor of America. Five years later, he becomes a citizen, and directly afterward is entangled unfortunately in the crossfires of an anarchist’s hate crime toward the judge who gave him his naturalization papers.
Louise Dresser, who plays Mrs. Pleznik, was nominated for Best Actress and it is no wonder that she lost to Janet Gaynor, the star of “7th Heaven.” The New York Times movie review states that “her actions, due to the direction, are far too slow,” and I would certainly agree. She is set a difficult task–to communicate a loving mother of three who does not speak English, and after the happiness of her husband’s naturalization, is handed heartbreak after heartbreak. Her performance does not meet the demands of her character.
If you are a genuine film noir advocate and love to spend your free time immersed in early 20th century films, then by all means see this film if you have somehow missed it. But if you don’t fall into this category, I would not recommend it.