AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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A Girl in Every Port
Alternate Title: They Sell Monkeys to Sailors
Director: Chester Erskine (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1952
Production Date:   11 Jun--mid-Jul 1951
Duration (in mins):   85-86
Duration (in feet):   7,771
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Cast:   Groucho Marx (Benny Linn)  
    Marie Wilson (Jane Sweet)  
    William Bendix (Tim Dunnovan)  
    Don DeFore (Bert Sedgwick)  
    Gene Lockhart ("Doc" Garvey)  
    Dee Hartford (Millicent Temple)  
    Hanley Stafford (Navy lieutenant)  
    Teddy Hart ("High Life")  
    Percy Helton (Drive-in manager)  
    George E. Stone (Skeezer)  
    Rodney Wooton (The Pearl)  
    Dave Willock (Saucy sailor)  
    Teddy Mangean (Saboteur)  
    Bobby Rose (Saboteur)  
    Lillian West (Miss Brooks)  
    Helen Blizard (Carhop)  
    Barbara Blaine (Carhop)  
    Virginia Linden (Carhop)  
    Anne Dore (Carhop)  
    Jonni Paris (Carhop)  
    Sue Carlton (Carhop)  
    Midge Ware (Carhop)  
    Chili Williams (Carhop)  
    Wade Crosby (Tough customer)  
    Jack Santoro (Wolfish customer)  
    Al Murphy (Taxi driver)  
    Julian Rivero (Angelo)  
    Brooks Benedict (The friend)  
    Richard Reeves (Slow Poke)  
    Henry Corden (Candy Nose)  
    Don Forbes (Assistant announcer)  
    Ralph Sanford (Announcer)  
    George Sherwood (Shore patrol officer )  
    Bill Slack (Spud)  
    George Dockstader (Red, sailor)  
    Jack Shea (Sailor)  
    Al Rhein (Sailor)  
    Don Ross (Sailor)  
    Alex Sharp (Tall sentry)  
    Daniel Bernaducci (Small sentry)  
    Alan Matthews (Announcer and judge)  
    George Barrows (Marine sentry)  
    Terry Terrill    

Summary: When bumbling sailor Tim Dunnovan receives word that his aunt has died and left him $1,450, he stuns his best friend, the conniving Benny Linn, by buying a racehorse. Tim and Benny's harried superior officer assumes that Benny was swindled and gives both sailors five days of leave to straighten out the matter. At the stables where Tim's new horse, Little Erin, is kept, Tim and Benny confront "Doc" Garvey, the horse's trainer. Although Garvey defends the sale, jockey Skeezer sneers at the horse and his weak ankles. Little Erin's devoted young groom, The Pearl, insists that the animal's ankles will improve with rest and reveals that the horse has a healthy twin brother, Little Shamrock. Sensing exploitation possibilities in twin horses, the sailors take Little Erin to the drive-in restaurant where Little Shamrock's owner, Jane Sweet, works as a carhop. The dimwitted Jane confirms that the two animals are identical and takes Benny and Tim to visit Little Shamrock, a farm plough horse. Benny schemes to switch Little Erin and Little Shamrock and trick Little Erin's previous owner, Bert Sedgwick, into buying him back. Posing as Southern gentlemen, Benny and Tim drop by Bert's office and inform him that Garvey swindled him by passing off Little Erin as lame. Bert, whose socialite fiancĂ©e, Millicent Temple, has forced him to give up his horseracing interests and become a businessman, sees through the sailors' impersonation, but when Benny insists that Little Erin is racing well, he agrees to take a look at the horse. At the stables, Skeezer races Little Shamrock around the track, impressing Bert, who thinks the horse is Little Erin, with his time. Before Bert can make Tim an offer, however, Millicent shows up and warns Bert not to get involved. Determined to change Bert's mind, Benny enters Little Shamrock in a race and plants a newspaper story about the twin horses. After reading the story, Bert concludes that the sailors are trying to trick him and rushes to the track. There, Benny, Garvey and Skeezer all slip Little Shamrock vitamin pills, and the charged-up horse wins the race. Assuming that Little Erin is really Little Shamrock, Bert offers Benny and Tim $5,000 for Little Erin, but says that, because of Millicent, his name cannot appear on the ownership title. Later, Bert, who is attracted to Jane but reluctant to break with Millicent, invites her for a drive, and the two kiss. After Bert takes Little Erin away, Skeezer reveals to the sailors that The Pearl switched the horses yet again. Concerned because their names are on the real Little Erin's title, Benny and Tim rush to Bert's office. There, Bert informs Tim and Benny that he is entering Little Erin in a $100,000 race, and if he wins, he will give them a cut and officially assume titleship. Aware of Bert's plan, Millicent tells Tim and Benny that if Little Shamrock wins, her uncle, Admiral Temple, will have them kicked out of the Navy. To avoid dismissal, the sailors decide to enter the real Little Erin in the race, but their plan goes awry when gangster "High Life" informs them that he now owns half of Little Shamrock and threatens to kill them if the horse does not win. Later, on their ship, Benny gets the idea to kidnap both horses and sneaks the animals to the ship's brig. The following day, Bert sees a newspaper report about the kidnapping, as do Jane and High Life. That night, at the end of a friendly date with Tim and Benny, Jane confesses that she is sad because now that the horses have been kidnapped, her chances of winning Bert away from Millicent are nil. For Jane's sake, Tim and Benny decide to run Little Shamrock in the race, but as they cannot tell one horse from the other, remove both from the ship. As they are sneaking off, Tim and Benny knock out two civilians they assume are High Life's goons and toss their ticking suitcase overboard, setting off an explosion. The next day, at the racetrack, Garvey, who has bet on High Life's other horse, offers Skeezer half of his winnings not to race Little Shamrock. Skeezer agrees, and Benny must fill in as jockey at the last minute. When Jane then dashes up with the news that Little Shamrock is really Little Erin, Tim mounts Little Shamrock, and both horses run the race. After a healed Little Erin finishes first with his brother, Millicent gives the jubilant Bert an ultimatum. To her horror, Bert chooses horseracing, and Jane. Both horses then are disqualified, and High Life's goons come for Tim and Benny. Before either the gangsters or the sailors' equally angry shipmates, who also bet on Little Shamrock, can pummel them, however, Tim and Benny are ordered back to their ship. Instead of the expected punishment, the two are awarded medals for their bravery in apprehending the two saboteurs. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Chester Erskine (Dir)
  James Lane (Asst dir)
Producer: Irwin Allen (Prod)
  Irving Cummings Jr. (Prod)
Writer: Chester Erskine (Scr)
Photography: Nicholas Musuraca (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Walter E. Keller (Art dir)
Film Editor: Ralph Dawson (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Harley Miller (Set dec)
Costumes: Michael Woulfe (Gowns)
Music: Roy Webb (Mus)
  C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
Sound: Philip Brigandi (Sd)
  Clem Portman (Sd)
Special Effects: Harold Stine (Spec eff)
Make Up: Mel Berns (Makeup artist)
  Larry Germain (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Norman Stuart (Dial dir)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," traditional.
Source Text: Based on the short story "A Girl in Every Port" by Frederick Hazlitt Brennan in The Saturday Evening Post (6 May 1933).
Authors: Frederick Hazlitt Brennan

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 23/1/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1478

PCA NO: 15353
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Comedy
Sub-Genre: Horse race
Subjects (Major): Horse owners
  Impersonation and imposture
Subjects (Minor): African Americans
  Drive-in restaurants
  Mistaken identity

Note: The working titles of this film were They Sell Sailors Elephants and They Sell Monkeys to Sailors . The title of Frederick Hazlitt Brennan's short story was listed onscreen as "They Sell Sailors Elephants," but was published under the title "A Girl in Every Port" in the 6 May 1933 issue of SEP . Although a HR news item announced Sally Yarnell as a cast member, her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In Mar 1952, HR announced that a sequel to A Girl in Every Port , titled A Guy in Every Port , was being prepared, with Marie Wilson, Margaret Sheridan and Brad Dexter as the probable stars. The sequel was never made, however. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   5 Jan 1952.   
Daily Variety   20 Dec 51   p. 3.
Film Daily   8 Jan 52   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Dec 50   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 51   p. 2, 10
Hollywood Reporter   12 Jun 51   p. 4, 6
Hollywood Reporter   3 Jul 51   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Jul 51   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Dec 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Mar 52   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   16 Feb 52   p. 1237.
New York Times   14 Feb 52   p. 23.
Variety   26 Dec 51   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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