|Reap the Wild Wind|
DVD cover with cast out of order
|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Written by||Thelma Strabel (book)|
|Screenplay by||Charles Bennett|
Jesse Lasky, Jr.
Alan Le May
|Based on||Reap the Wild Wind (1941 novel)|
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Edited by||Anne Bauchens|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$4 million (US/ Canada rentals) |
Reap the Wild Wind is a 1942 adventure film starring Ray Milland, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Robert Preston, and Susan Hayward, and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, his second picture to be filmed in color. It is based on a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post. The movie, released shortly after the United States' entry into World War II, was a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1840s along the Florida coast, and was wildly successful.
While he based his film on Strabel's story, DeMille took liberties with details such as sibling relationships and subplots, while staying true to the spirit of the story, which centers on a headstrong, independent woman portrayed by Paulette Goddard.
As the film opens, Loxi Claiborne (Goddard) is running a marine salvage business started by her deceased father. A hurricane is passing through the Key West area, leaving behind at least one wreck on the nearby shoals. The Jubilee founders, and Loxi and other salvagers race to claim the cargo. Not arriving first, Loxi and her crew rescue the captain, Jack Stuart (Wayne), but do not share in the salvage rights. Apparently, the first salvor on the scene, King Cutler (Raymond Massey), may have actually planned the wreck.
Nursing Jack back to health, Loxi falls in love with him. When she visits Charleston with her cousin Drosophilla (Hayward), Loxi schemes to win a plum captain's position for Jack by seducing Steve Tolliver (Milland), who is running the sailing ship line for which Jack works. Steve falls for Loxi and returns with her to Key West to investigate the truth about Jack's shipwreck.
Drosophilla goes home to Havana when Loxi and Steve return to Key West. Steve has come to rid the Keys of pirates like Cutler (and to be near Loxi). Cutler, in turn, arranges to have Steve shanghaied by the crew of a whaler. Loxi hears of the plot and gets Jack to help her save Steve. Later, they discover that Steve has concealed Jack's appointment to the steamship Southern Cross on orders from his superior. Angry over a seemingly underhanded act, Jack meets with Cutler. He learns that Steve's boss has just died and that Steve will be taking over the shipping line. Jack realizes that he is unlikely to keep his command with Steve in charge and agrees to work with Cutler to sabotage his new ship; he sails to Havana to take command.
Rumors circulate and prices of the cargo of the Southern Cross fluctuate wildly, leaving Steve to suspect a wreck is planned. He commandeers the Claiborne with Loxi on board and heads to Havana to stop Jack. Loxi, believing Jack is innocent, disables her ship, and they sit becalmed in a fog bank as the Southern Cross piles into a reef and sinks. Unknown to Jack, Drsophilla had stowed away to be with her lover, King Cutler's brother Dan (Preston), and she drowned.
Jack is put on trial for wrecking his ship. The testimony reveals a woman may have been on board, though none was rescued. To determine if a woman is in the wreck, Steve agrees to dive to the wreck with Jack. While down in the wreck, Jack and Steve discover proof that Drosophilla was on board and has been drowned. They are attacked by a giant squid. Jack saves Steve's life, but is lost when the Southern Cross slips off the continental shelf into deep water. Dan Cutler accuses his brother of murder and is shot dead by him, whereupon, Steve shoots King Cutler, killing him.
Loxi and Steve return to Charleston together.
The film is unusual among films starring John Wayne. It is one of relatively few films in which he plays a character with a notable dark side.