Following the huge success of Captains Courageous, Freddie Bartholomew again plays a snobby brat reformed into a sturdy young man by seamanship training and the friendship of Mickey Rooney (in the fourth of their five screen teamings). The combination works again. In the title role of Lord Jeff, Bartholomew is a defiant orphan arrested after engineering a jewel theft with bad companions (Gale Sondergaard and George Zucco). With the scenarists nod to the venerable British childrens charity Barnardos, the scheming scamp is sent to Russell-Cotes mercantile marine school, where Terry OMulvaney (Rooney) takes him in hand and provides a crash course in personal honor. But can Geoffreys ex-partners undo the good work of school patriarch Charles Coburn, instructor Herbert Mundin and fellow cadets Peter Lawford (in his American debut) and Terry Kilburn? Director Sam Wood (soon to head to England for Goodbye, Mr. Chips with Kilburn) steers it home straight and true – on the Queen Mary, no less! – manned by a smart, snappy crew.
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