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Swamp Water (1941)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 23 May 1942 (Mexico)
A hunter happens upon a fugitive and his daughter living in a Georgia swamp. He falls in love with the girl and persuades the fugitive to return to town.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(novel),
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Thursday Ragan
...
Julie
...
Ben
...
Mabel MacKenzie
...
Jesse Wick
...
Hannah
...
Sheriff Jeb McKane
...
Tim Dorson
...
Bud Dorson (as Guinn Williams)
...
Marty McCord
...
Hardy Ragan (as Joseph Sawyer)
...
Tulle McKenzie (as Paul Burns)
Dave Morris ...
Barber
Frank Austin ...
Fred Ulm
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Storyline

A hunter happens upon a fugitive and his daughter living in a Georgia swamp. He falls in love with the girl and persuades the fugitive to return to town. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Swamp! Sinister - mysterious - it shaped the lives and loves and hates of the people who lived around its edges!!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 May 1942 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

L'étang tragique  »

Box Office

Budget:

$601,900 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

(Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

First credited work by director Jean Renoir while he was in wartime exile from German-occupied France. See more »

Quotes

Ben: We'll get out Keefer - if I have to bash you in the head when you ain't looking.
Tom Keefer: Bud, there ain't no man livin' can catch me when I ain't lookin'.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: The Moon Is Not Blue (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"You'll be back here by tomorrow night, or not at all"
12 January 2009 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

If one had missed the opening credits, he would be forgiven for thinking that 'Swamp Water (1941)' was one of John Ford's lesser-known efforts. If the cast of familiar Ford faces – including Walter Brennan, Ward Bond and John Carradine – didn't lead you up the wrong path, then it's the smaller touches that characterise the director's Westerns: a close-knit community, an impassioned brawl, an innocent young lass, a significant father-son relationship. In this case, however, the credit doesn't belong to one of America's greatest filmmakers, but to the French equivalent {though it comes as no surprise that writer Dudley Nichols was a frequent Ford collaborator}. 'Swamp Water' was Jean Renoir's first picture following his migration to Hollywood in the early 1940s. Interestingly, considering the distinctive brand of auterist film-making evident in 'The Rules of the Game (1939)' just two years earlier, there's little here to suggest that Renoir is seated behind the camera. Aside from a waterbound opening shot that calls to mind several scenes from 'A Day in the Country (1936),' this film bears little resemblance to the other seven Renoirs I've seen to date.

When hunter Ben Ragan (Dana Andrews, in an early role) ventures into the feared Okefenokee swamp to retrieve his lost dog, he happens upon the hiding-place of Tom Keefer (Walter Brennan), a convicted murderer who escaped custody and has been living in isolation for several years. Despite having become a rugged and slightly eccentric recluse, Keefer firmly professes his innocence and spares Ben's life, in exchange for keeping silent about his whereabouts. Back in town, and to his sweetheart's (Virginia Gilmore) chagrin, Ben befriends Keefer's daughter Julie (Anne Baxter), a raggedy young beauty who shies away from social interaction like a frightened kitten {fortunately for her career, Baxter would play a substantially more independent character in Wilder's 'Five Graves to Cairo (1943),' and I certainly don't need to mention 'All About Eve (1950)'}. Meanwhile, Ben's father Thursday (Walter Huston) watches out for the cowardly ruffian who has been bothering his younger wife Hannah (Mary Howard) – the perpetrator is, of course, the suitably pathetic John Carradine.

Even if it doesn't attain the dizzying heights of Renoir's other offerings, 'Swamp Water' deserves to be seen for his marvellous and atmospheric cinematography (the stifling swamp photography was captured by Peverell Marley) and strong performances. Andrews perhaps wasn't the most authentic actor of the 1940s, but here he plays the young hero with a tenacity that signalled a successful future in Hollywood. Huston is, of course, terrific, and I've found it interesting that he never seems to play the same character (to such an extent that in 'And Then There Were None (1945)' and 'Dragonwyck (1946)' it took me a while to even recognise him!). But the heart of the film belongs to Brennan, who comes across as sympathetic and likable without even trying, though he brings an added toughness to this role that I liked – by the way, how the heck did they film the snake-bite scene without risking their top-billed star? I don't know if 'Swamp Water' could be confidently recommended to fans of its French director, but John Ford aficionados could certainly do much worse.


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