Ship Comes In, A: Tale of Immigrants, Starring Louise Dresser

The 1928 silent film, A Ship Comes In, tells the story of Polish immigrants coming to the U.S.

The feature stars Rudolph Schildkraut, Louise Dresser, Milton Holmes, Linda Landi, and Fritz Feld.

Directed by William K. Howard, the movie was written by Julien Josephson (story adaptation), John W. Krafft (titles) and Sonya Levien.

Louise Dresser was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar, but the winner was Janet Gaynor.

After landing at Ellis Island, the Pleznick parents, Peter (Rudolph SChildkraut) and Louise (Louise Dresser), and their three children settle on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

They are happy to be in America but they soon cross paths with Sokol (Fritz Feld), who warns them that they will never find happiness, railing against the government. But Peter is so excited that he even takes the roach in his apartment as a memory of home from Hungary. As a gifted trombonist, he strikes up a friendship with players across the airshaft, joining in a duet of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”  He then gets a job as a janitor in the Federal Building downtown.

Problems begin, when Peter’s son is forced to fight when he’s attacked on the street, and Peter finds his own boss is a bigot.  Even so, Peter proudly puts up a picture of his “new boss,” President Woodrow Wilson. He loves his job in the government building, and is moved to tears when he accidentally glimpses a group of immigrants taking their citizenship oath.

Five years later, Peter is about to take his oath of citizenship, and his son Eric, now 18, is planning to join the Army.  But Sokol’s hatred leads him to take action against the sentencing judge when a fellow foreign-born malcontent is sentence to 10 years in prison.

Peter takes his oath of citizenship from the judge in private, but Sokol is in the courthouse, implicating Peter in a bombing.  Though shattered by the events, Peter never loses faith in the US as the land of justice and opportunity.