Spencer Tracy plays a rough and tough fisherman (“Dutch” Mueller), who leads in a strike with his fellow Fishery workers against the “fat-cat” owners of a Tuna cannery. The love interest Hattie (Jean Harlow), is also a Tuna cannery worker. Her character has a tough exterior with her “bombshell” good looks.
Jimmie (Mickey Rooney) plays a teenager, who is the Uncle of the two youngest children. They all live with; “Pops” (Roger Imhof), Hattie and his Aunt Lil (Una Merkel) together in the same small, apartment-like “shack” on the wharf. Aunt ’Lil runs the home.
The thuggish cannery owner, Nick Lewis (Joseph Calliea), is also trying to romance Hattie with his money & gifts. He has wealth, Dutch does not. Hattie falls for Dutch in the end but this antagonism creates many struggles throughout the film. Pete (William Newell) is a family friend along with many colorful characters in the movie.
The movie explores some cutting edge sub-themes that were socially current at the time of its release in 1936 release. Some scenes involve a woman having a baby while in prison, a hobo camp deep in the woods showing vagabonds, as well as worker strike scenes on the docks in the story. —Wikipedia
A graduate of Columbia University, J. Walter Ruben worked briefly as a stage actor, publicity flack, and vaudeville gagwriter before becoming a regional distributor for the newly formed MGM in 1924. Ruben graduated to screenwriting in 1927, and to directing in 1931. In the first years of the talkies, he was contracted to RKO Radio, where he helmed such films as The Public Defender (1931), The Phantom of Crestwood (1931), Symphony of Six Million (1932), and Success at Any Price (1934). In 1935, he returned to MGM, where after directing a handful of films (Riff Raff, Trouble for Two, Bad Man of Brimstone) he joined the studio’s staff of producers. Aligned with MGM until his death in 1942, J. Walter Ruben was responsible for several Wallace Beery vehicles, and was also on hand for Her Cardboard Lover (1942), Norma Shearer’s final film. —allrovi.com