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Strange Cargo (1940)

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



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

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Complete credited cast:
Grideau (as Frederic Worlock)


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


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 March 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Not Too Deep  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$1,252,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Received a condemned rating from the Legion of Decency for "irreverent use of Scripture" and "lustful complications." Even after the studio made the changes demanded, distribution was sharply cut by cities refusing to book it. See more »


At one point we see Verne (Clark Gable) escape by jumping out a window into the water. A short while later, on land, he pulls a bible out from inside his shirt to check a map printed inside. As he flips through the pages of the bible, there is no sign whatsoever that this book got wet. This bible - which he carried unprotected - should have shown obvious signs of water immersion (damp edges, soggy paper, etc.) but it appears to be perfectly dry. See more »


André Verne: I've got an idea, Grideau. Give me twelve hours to get out and put her
André Verne: in the dormatory. That way everybody's happy.
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Featured in Hero at Large (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Two masterpieces in a year.
14 October 2002 | by See all my reviews

In 1940,Frank Borzage gave two great movies in a row.In these trouble times ,it was a true tour de force to achieve that."Strange cargo" and "mortal storm" are admirable works,works of redemption,full of compassion for the human race .Hats off to you,M.Borzage,you who are often ignored when they list their favorite directors.

A user wrote that "strange cargo" was ahead of its time.It's so obvious that even now,it remains demanding ,deep,and absorbing.When you see where the adventures movie has gone,the likes of Indiana and co,you wonder that some works like that have been produced. "Strange cargo" anticipates the cinema future.In several respects it's John Huston before John Huston,but with more faith in the human nature. I would go as far as saying the first part is some kind of Bunuel's "la mort en ce jardin"(1956),but a Christian(!) Bunuel.The users who saw the Spanish director 's underrated film will be struck by the analogies between the two works .Gable's and Crawford' characters resemble George Marchal's and Simone Signoret's in "la mort en ce jardin".Or rather the other way about.

The main difference is the indomitable faith in God that Cambreau displays in the whole movie.His face radiates like a Christ,and Ian Hunter outshines the two stars Gable and Crawford.His performance ,subdued and sober,but always mesmerizing ,fascinates.There are unforgettable scenes:the beach ,where he opens the gates of eden for some kind of thief ;the cask of fresh water;his strange predictions;Clark Gable screaming "I'm God!" after throwing him into the water.The movie often verges on fantastic,but a spiritual and sustained fantastic,not drivel such as "IJ and the last crusade".

"Strange cargo" was followed by "mortal storm" ,which iseven more superior to it.Here ,Borzage anticipates on Minnelli "the four horsemen of the Apocalypse" 1961) and Visconti (la caditi degli dei 1969).His love for the human race is still beaming:in a world gone mad where nazi hate oozes everywhere,there will be several Cambreau to heal the wounds :Mr.and Mrs Roth,Martin,Freya and the old Mrs Breitner.

Do not miss his earlier works ,pacifist ones of course :"three comrades " and "no greater glory".Should they give a Nobel price of cinema,Frank Borzage would have been a strong contender in his lifetime.

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