Lord Jeff with Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney. We first meet Lord Jeff (Freddie Bartholomew) as the overly demanding child resident of a London hotel. His lordship is condescending toward (and despised by) the hotel staff. While shopping at a jewelry shop for a present for his mother, he is suddenly struck with some sort of stomach ailment and must be rushed back to the hotel. Shortly thereafter an inspector comes to question him about another patron present at the shop who made use of the distraction to steal a priceless necklace. It turns out that "Lord" Jeff is really an orphan who was running a con with his "governess" and the man who stole the necklace. His accomplices escape but Jeff is arrested and sent to a trade school for homeless boys. The school where his is sent, Dr. Barnardo's Russel Cotes Nautical School, trains boys to work in the British equivalent of the merchant marines. Jeff is condescending and aloof there as well, but is eventually taught honor and pride by the example of star student Terry O'Mulvaney, played by Mickey Rooney. Thus it is that Jeff declines to rejoin his con-artist former partners when they find and try to reengage him. They still try to use him to transport the stolen necklace to New York by sewing it into the lining of his coat knowing that he will be assigned to apprentice on the Queen Mary.
Familiar faces: Charles Coburn as Captain Briggs, the dean of the school; Peter Lawford has a bit part as one of the new kids that arrive at the school with Jeff.