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Girl of the Port

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Girl of the Port
Theatrical poster for film
Directed byBert Glennon
Written byBeulah Marie Dix
Frank Reicher
Based onThe Fire-walker
by John Russell
Produced byWilliam LeBaron
StarringSally O'Neil
Reginald Sharland
Mitchell Lewis
Duke Kahanamoku
CinematographyLeo Tover
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • February 2, 1930 (1930-02-02)[1]
Running time
65 minutes
CountryUnited States

Girl of the Port is a 1930 pre-Code melodrama, adventure, romantic film, directed by Bert Glennon, from a screenplay by Beulah Marie Dix with dialogue from Frank Reicher. The film was based on a short story, entitled The Fire-walker by John Russell, and starred Sally O'Neil, Reginald Sharland, Mitchell Lewis, and Duke Kahanamoku.[2]


Shot from the film
Shot from the film

Jim, a British Lord, suffers from pyrophobia, a fear of fire, which he developed during the war. Unable to cope with his condition, he flees civilization, coming to rest in the island paradise of Suva, in Fiji. As he is attempting to drink himself into forgetfulness, he meets Josie, who is a showgirl stranded on the island. Josie had become friends with Kalita, who talked the owner of the bar into giving Josie a job. It is in the bar where Jim and Josie meet, and the two develop a liking for one another, which causes McEwen, the local heavy to become jealous.

After McEwen challenges Jim to a fight, which Jim backs away from, causing those around him to believe he has a cowardly streak. Josie, however, continues to believe in him. McEwen steps up his animosity towards Jim, taunting him into following McEwen to the nearby island of Benga, where McEwen intends to force Jim to participate in the local custom of fire-walking. Jim, forced to confront his fear, overcomes it, and passes through the fire pit, after which he defeats McEwen in a fight, and ends up with Josie.



John Russell's short story, The Fire-walker, appeared in his book Far Wandering Men, in 1929.[1] RKO purchased the rights to the story, and scheduled the film for their 1929-30 production schedule, under the title The Firewalker.[3] RKO finished filming on the project in December 1929.[4] RKO began production on the movie in October 1929.[5] In November 1929, it was revealed that Sally O'Neil would appear in the film,[6] and later that month, it was revealed that Frank Reicher had been loaned to RKO from its sister studio, Pathe, to write additional dialogue for the screenplay.[7] On November 20, Variety reported that Donald McKenzie, Arthur Clayton, Gerald Barry, and Leyland Hodgson had been assigned to the cast,[8] although Hodgson's appearance in the film is not confirmed by other industry sources.[1] Around New Years 1930, RKO announced that they were changing the title of the film from The Firewalker to Girl of the Port.[9][10] That same month it was revealed that in addition to the sound picture, RKO would also release a silent version of the film.[11]


In an article in Close Up magazine, Girl of the Port, along with several other American films, was lauded as an example of the "new humanitarianism".[12] Motion Picture Magazine did not give the film a favorable review, calling it "just another melo[drama]". They did give Sally O'Neil high marks, calling her acting effort "heroic", although they were less than complimentary to the rest of the cast.[13] Motion Picture News gave the film a favorable review, although they felt it was inappropriate for children. While they did not care for O'Neil's performance, finding it a bit overdone, they did compliment Reginald Sharland's work in the picture, and they found Mitchell Lewis' work excellent. They also complimented the work of Bert Glennon, while at the same time not enjoying Beulah Marie Dix's screenplay.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "Girl of the Port: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  2. ^ Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. p. 24. ISBN 0-517-546566.
  3. ^ "Five Musical Productions Lead Off RKO Schedule of Thirty". The Film Daily. July 15, 1929. p. 29. Retrieved May 14, access
  4. ^ "Hollywood Happenings". The Film Daily. December 26, 1929. p. 9. Retrieved May 13, access
  5. ^ "Radio's Octette". Variety. October 2, 1929. p. 8. Retrieved May 17, access
  6. ^ "Friscos Grosses". Variety. November 6, 1929. p. 60. Retrieved May 17, access
  7. ^ "Reicher Loaned". Variety. November 19, 1929. p. 9. Retrieved May 17, access
  8. ^ "Coast Notes". Variety. November 20, 1929. p. 57. Retrieved May 17, access
  9. ^ "Hollywood and Los Angeles". Variety. December 25, 1929. p. 62. Retrieved May 17, access
  10. ^ "Changes "Firewalker" Title". Motion Picture News. January 18, 1930. p. 35. Retrieved May 13, access
  11. ^ "Twenty Already Lined Up for 1930 Production by RKO". The Film Daily. January 7, 1930. p. 4. Retrieved May 13, access
  12. ^ "The French Cinema". Close Up. July 1929. p. 20. Retrieved May 13, access
  13. ^ "Reviews of the Newest Pictures: The Girl of the Port". Motion Picture Magazine. April 1930. p. 53. Retrieved May 13, access
  14. ^ "Opinions On Pictures: The Girl of the Port". Motion Picture News. January 4, 1930. p. 34. Retrieved May 13, access
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Girl of the Port
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