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Night Waitress (1936)

Helen Roberts, who's on probation, goes back to work as a waitress at Torre's Fish Palace, a San Francisco waterfront dive. The customers are low characters trying to make time with Helen ... See full summary »


Lew Landers


Marcus Goodrich (screen play), Golda Draper (story)


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Complete credited cast:
Margot Grahame ... Helen Roberts
Gordon Jones ... Martin Rhodes
Vinton Hayworth ... George Skinner (as Vinton Haworth)
Marc Lawrence ... Dorn (as Marc Laurence)
Billy Gilbert ... Torre
Don 'Red' Barry ... Mario Rigo (as Donald Barry)
Otto Yamaoka ... Fong
Paul Stanton ... District Attorney
Arthur Loft ... Borgum
Walter Miller ... Police Inspector


Helen Roberts, who's on probation, goes back to work as a waitress at Torre's Fish Palace, a San Francisco waterfront dive. The customers are low characters trying to make time with Helen and ex-rum runners trying to make a dishonest dollar. Some of the latter, including Helen's unwelcome suitor Martin Rhodes, are after a mysterious, valuable hidden "cargo"; when violence erupts, Helen finds herself innocently involved, and is soon on the run from both cops and crooks. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


SHE PLAYED A DANGEROUS GAME with the sinister secrets of the men she met in a waterfront café!..See her dramatic love story! See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 December 1936 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Barbara Pepper is listed in a modern source as an actress in the role of "Blonde" in this movie, but she was not seen. See more »


While on the ferry Helen and Martin admire the Bay Bridge under construction, prior to the addition of its decking. Yet a few minutes earlier as the ferry departed the pier the Bay Bridge was clearly seen with a completed deck. See more »


Fong: When lady's skirt come in door, man's shirt go out window.
See more »


The Monkeys have no Tails in Zamboanga
Music by Don Raye and Vic Schoen
Lyrics by Jerry Seelen and Hy Zaret
Performed by Gordon Jones
See more »

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User Reviews

Something Fishy!!!
4 May 2013 | by kidbootsSee all my reviews

Passable crime movie from RKO featuring two actors who didn't quite make the grade. At least in her home country Margot Grahame was known as Britain's answer to Jean Harlow and dubbed the "Aluminium Blonde" as well as being their highest paid star but Hollywood didn't really want to know, even after her sterling performance in "The Informer". Besides her looks had more in common with Lucille Ball or Barbara Pepper. And Gordon Jones, even though he worked solidly from 1932 until 1963 (the year he died), was destined to have a very familiar face even if you couldn't remember his name.

Helen Roberts (Grahame) is back at her waitressing job after a brush with the law and with the full support of Papa Torres (Billy Gilbert) who just wants to see her make good. How anyone could have cast Grahame as a probation girl is amazing - her posh tones seemed more at home in Buckingham Palace than Tony's Fish Palace!!! When not brushing off unwanted suitors she also has to put up with the whispered innuendos about her past which makes her particularly hardened to breezy sea Captain Marty Rhodes (Jones) who wants to get to know her better. He seems to be mixed up with some pretty shady characters who feel he can lead them to a gold shipment but, like Helen, he is really just an innocent bystander who doesn't know what the mysterious shipment he has been hired to deliver, is!!!

The most interesting thing about this movie is the number of familiar faces in smaller roles, forget about the two leads. Don "Red" Barry of later "Red Ryder" fame is Rigo who is organising the gold cargo, Marc Lawrence (here billed as Laurence) is Dorne, a thug (what else!!), another thug is played by Anthony Quinn who happened to get a couple of good close-ups. There was also Willie Best as a bystander and the always good Frank Faylen, he of the thousand bit parts and Dobie Gillis's always exasperated father, playing a policeman in the crowd.

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