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Aboard the freighter Glencairn, the lives of the crew are lived out in fear, loneliness, suspicion and cameraderie. The men smuggle drink and women aboard, fight with each other, spy on each other, comfort each other as death approaches, and rescue each other from danger. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
Watch this for Gregg Toland, the real star of the movie!
I came to this movie expecting a peek into the genius of Gregg Toland, having been a long time fan of Citizen Kane. I was not disappointed at all, the cinematography is excellent throughout, even if the pacing of the movie and its subject make it quite dull. The main problem is that Hollywood had little experience with focusing on a group rather than on a single character, so Ford's attempt is indeed laudable. A year later in Stagecoach he tried something similar but the action was much more focused on the Ringo-Dallas story. In The Grapes of Wrath the story is much more coherent, having been made after a novel not after a series of plays (even if splendidly adapted by Dudley Nichols). Much of the story seems to be too contrived, I mean how lonesome did those seafarers did get at sea that they behaved so erratically when they were ashore? I think for a modern audience the best things in the movie come from Toland (the movie really looks good, the guy truly had the eye of a painter) and for Wayne who is not necessarily great in his impersonation of a Sweede as he ain't holdin' a gun in his hand and he ain't chassin' no Apache or Comanche but he's doing a good job still.
My favorite images are near the end when the sailors are drunk and they're looking for Ole, the lighting and camera angles produce an uncanny atmosphere that combines very well with the puzzling state the drunken men must be in. The first shot of the movie is also brilliant and if it wouldn't have been directed by Ford I could have imagined something surreal about it. Much of the movie actually reminded me of Querelle, Fassbinder's last film, a surreal story about the hardships of sailing.
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