The Sea Bat (1930)

66 mins | Melodrama | 5 July 1930

Director:

Wesley Ruggles

Cinematographer:

Ira Morgan

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Full page view
HISTORY

On 13 April 1929, Motion Picture News announced that director Tod Browning was at work on The Sea Bat for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., and that he was expected to film the project in the West Indies. Five days later, the 18 April 1929 LAT added that Elliott Clawson was writing the film’s story. By 31 August 1929, Victor Fleming had taken over the role of director, as stated in that day’s Motion Picture News, but he was replaced by Hunt Stromberg, as noted in the 2 October 1929 Variety, and finally by Wesley Ruggles, as of a report in the 20 January 1930 Film Daily. At that time, actor Charles Bickford was listed in a leading role and Dorothy Yost was credited with having written an original story. Filming was relocated to Mazatlán, Mexico. Although some modern sources credit Lionel Barrymore as a director, his name was not mentioned in the trades at the time of production.
       M-G-M purchased a 150-foot schooner to build “the first seagoing sound stage,” according to the 22 January 1920 Variety. A separate news item in the same issue of Variety noted that Ruggles and company were currently on their way to Mazatlán. A column in the 25 January 1930 Motion Picture News added that the production was one of the first to shoot in Mexico “for some years.” Filming was underway as of 8 February 1930, as that day’s Hollywood Filmograph reported that Ruggles was directing 500 people in The Sea Bat, described as “a romance of sponge divers… [with] scenes ...

More Less

On 13 April 1929, Motion Picture News announced that director Tod Browning was at work on The Sea Bat for the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., and that he was expected to film the project in the West Indies. Five days later, the 18 April 1929 LAT added that Elliott Clawson was writing the film’s story. By 31 August 1929, Victor Fleming had taken over the role of director, as stated in that day’s Motion Picture News, but he was replaced by Hunt Stromberg, as noted in the 2 October 1929 Variety, and finally by Wesley Ruggles, as of a report in the 20 January 1930 Film Daily. At that time, actor Charles Bickford was listed in a leading role and Dorothy Yost was credited with having written an original story. Filming was relocated to Mazatlán, Mexico. Although some modern sources credit Lionel Barrymore as a director, his name was not mentioned in the trades at the time of production.
       M-G-M purchased a 150-foot schooner to build “the first seagoing sound stage,” according to the 22 January 1920 Variety. A separate news item in the same issue of Variety noted that Ruggles and company were currently on their way to Mazatlán. A column in the 25 January 1930 Motion Picture News added that the production was one of the first to shoot in Mexico “for some years.” Filming was underway as of 8 February 1930, as that day’s Hollywood Filmograph reported that Ruggles was directing 500 people in The Sea Bat, described as “a romance of sponge divers… [with] scenes both below and above water.”
       The 22 February 1930 Hollywood Filmograph announced that Ruggles was scheduled to return from Mexico in several weeks to direct interior scenes at the M-G-M studio lot. An article about Nils Asther in the same issue of Hollywood Filmograph stated that filming was delayed several days in Mexico due to inclement weather. Ruggles and company returned to Los Angeles by 1 March 1930, according to that day’s Hollywood Filmograph, which noted that the production in Mexico took one month to complete and that “hundreds of native extras who understood no English” were employed as background actors. Shooting continued in Los Angeles in early March 1930, as the 12 March 1930 Variety reported that Charles Bickford was causing trouble at M-G-M for “his stubborn refusal to work nights.” Although M-G-M executives reminded Bickford that his contract called for evening shoots if necessary, the actor “offered to buy back his contract from the company for $100,000.” M-G-M told Variety that the deal was not under consideration.
       A review in the 3 May 1930 Motion Picture News listed a duration of 73 minutes and a release date of 7 June 1930. The Sea Bat was still in theaters in September 1930, as the [Sidney, NE] Telegraph-News noted that the film would be screened that Saturday at the Fox Theater and included a detailed article about the production. According to the Telegraph-News, the movie, with its crew of 62 personnel, was “believed to be the largest motion picture expedition to leave Hollywood for another American country.” The production required “three Pullmans and two baggage cars… with 200 tons of equipment,” and “an inventory of articles taken into Mexico under customs bond covered more than 1,000 pages and showed a total value of $80,000.” The article also claimed that the titular subject of the film—the giant stingray—was filmed for the first time in The Sea Bat. The article continued: “A portable laboratory developed the film from day to day. More than 100 huge arc and side lamps were taken for night scenes, while extra generators were sent from the Culver City studios which carried sufficient power to substitute for Mazatlán’s own electric plant as the need arose.”

Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
20 Jan 1930
p. 6
Film Daily
10 Aug 1930
---
Hollywood Filmograph
8 Feb 1930
p. 13
Hollywood Filmograph
22 Feb 1930
p. 18
Hollywood Filmograph
22 Feb 1930
p. 22
Hollywood Filmograph
1 Mar 1930
p. 13
Los Angeles Times
18 Apr 1929
Section A, p. 6
Motion Picture News
13 Apr 1929
p. 1191
Motion Picture News
31 August 1929
p. 803
Motion Picture News
25 Jan 1930
p. 52
Motion Picture News
3 May 1930
p. 95
New York Times
2 Mar 1930
---
Telegraph News [Sidney, NE]
30 Sep 1930
p. 3
Variety
2 Oct 1929
p. 14
Variety
22 Jan 1930
p. 20
Variety
22 Jan 1930
p. 62
Variety
12 Mar 1930
p. 2
Variety
13 Aug 1930
p. 31
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SOUND
Rec eng
Rec eng
SOURCES
SONGS
"Lo-Lo," words by Felix E. Feist and Howard Johnson, music by Reggie Montgomery and George Ward.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 July 1930
Production Date:
February-March 1930
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
7 July 1930
LP1401
Physical Properties:
Sound
Movietone
Black and White
Sound, also silent
Also si.
Duration(in mins):
66
Length(in feet):
6,570
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At an outpost in the Caribbean, Nina, the daughter of Antone, a local sponge fisherman, is in love with Carl, a diver on one of the schooners. On a hunting expedition, Juan, a jealous rival, fouls the air line; and when a monstrous sea bat appears, Juan leaves Carl to drown. In despair, Nina turns to the voodoo rites of the natives and declares she will marry the man who captures the sea bat. Reverend Sims, actually an escaped convict, arrives on a tramp steamer, converts the girl, and in the process falls in love with her. They decide to elope by motorboat, but Juan, who has recognized Sims, succeeds in capturing him with the aid of a friend. The trio are attacked by the sea bat, and all are drowned but Sims, who returns to the waiting ...

More Less

At an outpost in the Caribbean, Nina, the daughter of Antone, a local sponge fisherman, is in love with Carl, a diver on one of the schooners. On a hunting expedition, Juan, a jealous rival, fouls the air line; and when a monstrous sea bat appears, Juan leaves Carl to drown. In despair, Nina turns to the voodoo rites of the natives and declares she will marry the man who captures the sea bat. Reverend Sims, actually an escaped convict, arrives on a tramp steamer, converts the girl, and in the process falls in love with her. They decide to elope by motorboat, but Juan, who has recognized Sims, succeeds in capturing him with the aid of a friend. The trio are attacked by the sea bat, and all are drowned but Sims, who returns to the waiting Nina.

Less

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

Casablanca

In the onscreen credits, actor S. Z. Sakall's name is incorrectly spelled "S. K. Sakall." HR news items add the following information about the production: Warner ... >>

What Happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City

The Edison catalog summarized this film as follows: "A winner and sure to please. In front of one of the largest newspaper offices is a hot air shaft through ... >>

Another Job for the Undertaker

The Edison catalog summarized this film as follows: “Shows a bedroom in a hotel. On the wall of the room is a conspicuous sign 'Don't blow out the gas.' ... >>

Life Rescue at Long Branch

The U.S. Library of Congress catalog gives the following description: "The several scenes are about the rescue of a female bather by two lifeguards. The first camera position is ... >>

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.