Corsair (1931)

     Roland V. West directed fourteen films in his career.  Critics consider three of his films to be excellent.  West directed the silent thriller The Bat in 1926.  West directed his most acclaimed film, Alibi (1929), which resulted in an Oscar nomination for his friend Chester Morris.  In 1930, West and Morris again collaborated on his last classic, The Bat Whispers, a sound remake of The Bat.

     I haven’t been able to watch Alibi but viewed both The Bat and The Bat Whispers over the last three years.  I enjoyed both films, which led me to look forward to viewing Corsair (1931).  Roland V. West left the film industry after directing Corsair to oversee business ventures with his girlfriend Thelma Todd.  West cast Todd in this film with his close friend and frequent collaborator Chester Morris.


Chester Morris as Boston Blackie

     I came away from the film about a young stockbroker, who turns bootlegger to teach his boss and the boss’ daughter a lesson, feeling disappointed.  Corsair was not a bad film.  It just didn’t meet the expectations set by the earlier two films.  Corsair turned out to be an average melodrama with an interesting storyline.

      Chester Morris portrayed the stockbroker, John Hawks.  Thelma Todd played Alison Corning.  Hawks steals the booze from a local bootlegger and delivers them to customers at sea in his ship, the Corsair.  By delivering the alcohol at sea, Hawks is technically not violating the Prohibition laws.

     Hawks actions put him on a collision course with gangsters “Big John” and “Fish Face”.  Will Hawks’ intelligence allow him to escape this dangerous situation?

     West left films although Thelma Todd continued to act in film.  On December 16, 1935, 29-year-old Thelma Todd was found in the garage of the home she and West shared.  Todd was sitting in a vehicle with the motor running.  Authorities believed Todd died of carbon monoxide poisoning but could not determine whether it was murder or suicide.

     Chester Morris would later claim that West confessed to him that West actually killed Todd.  However, Morris’ information could not be corroborated as he died on March 31, 1952.

     Corsair is available on YouTube, so you can watch the film and see if you agree with me.  Is it average in comparison to the other films.

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