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Strange Cargo (1940)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 1 March 1940 (USA)
Convicts escaping from Devil's Island come under the influence of a strange Christ-like figure.

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Writers:

(screen play), (based on the book "Not Too Narrow... Not Too Deep" by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
Hessler
...
Moll
J. Edward Bromberg ...
Flaubert
...
Telez
...
Dufond
Frederick Worlock ...
Grideau (as Frederic Worlock)
...
Marfeu
Victor Varconi ...
Fisherman
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Storyline

Verne wants nothing more than to escape from a penal colony located off the northern coast of South America. He tries to involve Julie, a saloon girl, in his plans but she turns him in to the authorities. On Verne's next try, he piggybacks on the escape of six other convicts and runs into Julie again in the process. One of the convicts is a spiritual figure who seems to know what will happen before anyone else. The group attempts to travel through the jungle, board a boat, and make it to the mainland. Written by JeanneArmintrout@juno.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 March 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Not Too Deep  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,252,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joan Crawford's wardrobe consisted of three ready-to-wear dresses which cost under $40 and she wore one of them throughout the twenty-seven days of filming. See more »

Goofs

The escapees finally reach the beach after hiking through the jungle. Their clothing, although made to look torn, shows no signs of soil despite various fist fights, plunging into quick sand, falling in water, pulling themselves from the river, and making their way through dense undergrowth - such as threadbare or torn fabric in the area of the knee or staining along the bottom leg of the trouser. See more »

Quotes

Moll: I see you brought a friend along with you, too. Always room for one more in the boat.
Julie: And if there isn't, you can always stay behind.
Moll: We'll cut up our rations with you and our water. What do you say?
André Verne: Big-hearted, ain't you Moll.
Moll: Why not. We're all together, aren't we? Everything is share and share alike, with us. With all of us, ain't it! With everything.
André Verne: Sure it is, with everything that's yours if not mine. Do you get that, Moll? And do you get it, you mugs? Take a good look, because that's ...
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Connections

Featured in Clark Gable: Tall, Dark and Handsome (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A story of essential goodness versus evil
26 January 2006 | by (Florida) – See all my reviews

Director Frank Borzage ("Seventh Heaven", "Street Angel", "Lucky Star", "The Mortal Storm", "Three Comrades", etc.) was rather famous for making pictures with a spiritual, yet practical edge to them. Here he succeeds once again in Strange Cargo (1940), which almost could have been a precode, it was that good.

The story involves a group of convicts and a prostitute who are making a break from a prison island to gain their freedom and new lives, traveling through dangerous jungles to reach the sea and a waiting boat. Although most of them hate each other at the beginning, strange events cause them to re-examine their lives and even make incredible sacrifices for one another along the way.

The cast is generally excellent, particularly Ian Hunter, who plays the good man, Cambreau, who acts as a Godly peacemaker, a Jesus symbol, to the evil, unsympathetic characters who abound in this film. His character proves that even a mere mortal man with a great and firm faith, a man not a priest or a minister, could lead sinful people to repentance with gentle words from the scripture and from his personal examples of good deeds. Either that, or his character was simply a male angel. The Bible says you can meet angels unawares.

This is one reason why I love the movies from old Hollywood; they weren't afraid to tackle subjects about spirituality vs. sin. Today they don't think sin exists anymore in Hollywood (ha!) so there is no need to moralize about anyone's changed behavior.

Joan Crawford had some good scenes in this film, but it takes awhile for the audience to feel sympathy for her. A couple of times I thought I was watching her again in Rain, a film she hated because it didn't do well at the box office. Joan simply does not strike me as a spiritual person, so she really had to ACT to play a remorseful person who changed for the better. It never really rings true though, although she tried her best.

I did enjoy seeing silent film actress Betty Compson, even briefly, as Joan's friend. How sad that more of her minor sound films have survived, but her silent classics have been lost. She was a very big star in her day, but by the 1930's she was forced into mostly B pictures.

Clark Gable seems an uncouth, rough choice for the prisoner Verne, and his last scene in the boat with Cambreau made me laugh, and I don't feel I should have been laughing at such a dramatic moment. He missed the mark for me. Like Joan, I don't think Gable was a spiritual person either, so they were a good match here, in an odd kind of way. I would really have loved to have seen two other actors play these parts.

Perhaps one of the best performances here is from Paul Lukas, as Hessler, the atheist. It's amazing how quickly I can pick out the atheist characters in films; they seem to have a brittle, angry edge to them, a continual chip on their shoulders, they are never at peace, and Paul displayed these qualities in abundance in this film. He is the only character who refuses to change after his encounters with Cambreau. Watch his face in his last scene and close-up. For one instant he is reconsidering the path he will take, sinner or saint, but then shouts "No!" to himself and walks away angrily into his atheist night. Very powerful and realistic, although sad at the same time.

Others here raved about Peter Lorre's performance as "Pig" but it didn't really impress me. His character seemed like just a silly spider in the background, one that should have simply been stepped on right at the beginning, rather than tolerated for too long. He didn't seem threatening enough to me.

Overall, a fascinating, thought provoking film, not for the squeamish. If you are looking for something different, and you are not afraid to face your own prejudices against people of faith, see Strange Cargo.


21 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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