Adapted from four plays by Eugene O'Neill, a crew takes ammunition to England and struggles to get a Swede home lest he get drunk and go back to sea.
On the ship Glencairn in the West Indies Driscoll (Thomas Mitchell) is caught returning from shore and says liquor will be smuggled aboard with fruit. Women bring fruit, and Smitty (Ian Hunter) buys a bottle. Donkeyman (Arthur Shields) tells him to forget the land. Men and women dance until a brawl starts, and a man is wounded. Ole Olsen (John Wayne) is going home to his farm. The Captain (Wilfrid Lawson) takes on ammunition for England, will pay sailors a 25% bonus, but won't allow shore leave because of secrecy. Smitty is caught by police and taken back.
The Glencairn goes to sea. In a storm men help Yank (Ward Bond), who has a punctured lung. The Captain offers medicine for pain. Yank recalls a man he killed in a fight, and Driscoll comforts him as he dies. Axel Swanson (John Qualen) paints a window as they near the war zone. Cocky (Barry Fitzgerald) tells that he read how spies use codes. Smitty needs a drink and tells Donkeyman he is going to enlist in the army. Smitty steals a bottle and opens the window to throw it out. Axel says he saw submarine signals. Davis (Joe Sawyer) sees Smitty at the window and tells Driscoll. They suspect Smitty of being a spy and arrest him. In a box they find his love letters, and Driscoll reads them aloud. Smitty wrote he lied about his drinking and lost his commission; but his wife and family want him to come back. Driscoll smells Ireland, and they hear planes. They are attacked, and Smitty is killed.
In London the men are paid, and Axel sews Ole's money into his coat. They get Ole a ticket home to Sweden. The Amindra needs a sailor, but Driscoll says it is a bad ship. They drink beer and go to Joe's Place, though Driscoll says he was robbed there. They drink whiskey, but Axel keeps Ole from even drinking beer. However, Freda (Mildred Natwick) keeps Ole from leaving and gets him to buy her a gin. Ole's ginger beer is drugged, and he passes out and is abducted onto the Amindra. Freda cries, but the others are drunk. They board the Amindra and fight to get Ole; but Driscoll is knocked out and taken to sea. In the final scene Axel boards the Glencairn, and Donkeyman reads that the Amindra was torpedoed.
This drama portrays an example of American shipping
taking weapons to England for the war, depicting the life of sailors
and the strong tendency to get drunk in port and then have to
go back to sea.