Sailing Along (1938)

Kay Martin (Jessie Matthews), after losing her father, has been living with and working for Mr. Barnes (Frank Pettingell), a man who owns a barge.

Kay doesn’t plan on sailing forever. She dreams of becoming an actress. Also working on the boat is the skipper’s son, Steve (Barry MacKay), who has dreams of making it big in the world of finance.

(Image via Golden Age Movies)
(Image via Golden Age Movies)

Kay is finally given the chance to become a star by an eccentric and wealthy businessman (Roland Young). She’ll star alongside famed American actor Dick Randall (Jack Whiting) on the London stage. On top of that, she’ll get a makeover – complete with a closet full of fancy clothes – and be able to live in a mansion rather than below the decks of a barge.

As Mr. Randall falls for Kay and Steve also begins to realize his feelings for her, Mrs. Randall takes a liking to Steve, adding personal complications to Kay’s quickly-evolving life.

Sonnie Hale, who at the time of production was married to the film’s leading lady Jessie Matthews, directs 1938’s Sailing Along.

This is the first film I’ve watched starring Jessie Matthews, and I must say, she’s absolutely delightful! She oozes charm, and by the time I’d watched the first ten minutes of this film I couldn’t wait to discover more of her work. She was a great choice to lead Sailing Along: full of spunk, and captivating to watch during both the musical and the non-musical scenes.

(Image via The Musical Chronicles)
(Image via The Musical Chronicles)

As for those musical numbers, they’re equally wonderful. The majority of them are simply staged, interwoven into the daily lives of the characters quite seamlessly. (For instance, Matthews sings her first song of the film while hanging laundry.) When Kay makes it to London, Matthews gets to take part in some fancier partnered numbers with Jack Whiting, very Astaire/Rogers-esque.

If you ask me to recall the details of the plot of Sailing Along a month from now, it’s not likely that I’ll be able to recall every small detail. The film’s single downfall is that its story, despite the charismatic cast, in no way deviates from the musical rom-com formula. As a result, it is somewhat forgettable.

With that being said, Sailing Along is still an incredibly pleasant watch with a lot of fun musical numbers and a stellar leading lady. Recommended for fans of the genre, especially those interested in discovering the undeservedly little-known talents of Jessie Matthews. The score: 4/5

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5 thoughts on “Sailing Along (1938)

  1. So glad to have you join the growing cult of Jessie Matthews! I’ve been hooked ever since I first caught EVERGREEN (1934) about a year ago and most of her other hits have since been released by VCI, so I’ve been eating up all I can afford. This one I actually caught on YouTube when I was first smitten and like most of Jessie’s movies it was a ton of fun!

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    1. I’ll have to pick up some of those VCI releases! I watched Sailing Along on Netflix but the only other film of hers that they have available is First a Girl, so I’ll have to hunt for the rest. Really excited to explore more of her filmography!

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      1. FIRST A GIRL is one of her best. I think it and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH (1933) are both on TCM in June as well. Enjoy, I’ve still got about 5 of the VCI releases to pick up and watch. Trying to spread them out and savor them somewhat.

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