After months at sea, Bo’sun John Baggs Jr. (James Caan) feels a compelling need for feminine company and as soon as he sets foot ashore he makes tracks for the Neptune Bar, a brash, noisy dive much frequented by sailors and portside hangers-on.
He isn’t in the Neptune long before he meets Maggie (Marsha Mason) who he challenges to a game of pool. She’s a sexy, quick-witted, cynical girl to whom Baggs takes an immediate fancy, and after he has managed to beat her at pool they repair to her apartment for the night.
On arriving, the sailor is very surprised to discover that Maggie has an 11-year-old mixed-race son.
Baggs – who has some kind of medical problem – returns to the Naval hospital and is greeted with the information that his entire service records have been lost.
He later meets Maggie again and she tells him a few things about herself: she is in receipt of welfare payments for herself and her son, and when she finds the money won’t stretch far enough she “accepts favours from sailors”.
Bo’sun Baggs finds himself – much to his own bewilderment – befriending the two, and when he finds out that Maggie is pregnant again (and not by him) he is furious at first but later becomes elated at the thought that his ‘family’ is growing.
In fact, his only worry is that because his records cannot be found he can’t draw any pay and is, therefore, unable to give Maggie as much help as he would like.
He tries to resolve the situation by marrying her, only to be confronted by a piece of typical Naval bureaucratic logic – because his records are lost he simply doesn’t exist as far as the Navy is concerned and therefore his marriage cannot be recognised!
Cinderella Liberty is an irrational, even preposterous love story, but nevertheless genuine on the part of this honest sailor.
The US Navy refused to co-operate with the production because the film depicts desertion of duty with no consequences, so Twentieth Century Fox had to rent a Canadian ship for the film.
“Cinderella Liberty” is a US sailor’s slang term for a shore pass that expires at midnight.
Boatswain’s Mate First Class John Baggs Jr.
Master at Arms
Allyn Ann McLerie
Rita Joelson Chidester
Mark Rydell (as Marty Augustine)