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Cecil B. DeMille
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Clipper ships taking the shortest route between the Mississippi and the Atlantic often end up on the shoals of Key West in the 1840s. Salvaging the ships' cargos has become a lucrative business for two companies -- one headed by a feisty young woman. Then she falls in love with the captain of a wrecked ship while he recuperates at her home. She travels to Charleston and is charming to the man most likely to be head of the captain's company, thinking she will be able to get the captain the position he wants on the company's first steam ship. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
The Essence of Escapist Golden Age Screen Entertainment
Having seen this film many times, I can understand those critics who regard it as yet another ripe example of director Cecil B. DeMille hokum and excess. But for me, it is far easier to side with folks who like "Reap the Wild Wind" as a prime example of rousing old-fashioned screen storytelling at its best.
Made just at the outbreak of World War II, Paramount spared no expense to mount this super-lavish yarn about romance, treachery, maritime adventure, shipwrecks, salvage risks involving "dead" ships, and the spectacle of rivals searching for evidence in the deep-----where diving to find it involves less danger than the chance encounter with a giant squid lurking in a sunken hull.
John Wayne appears in an uncharacteristic role-----a flawed anti-hero (long before that term was ever coined) who is likable, weak, not too swift but yet charming and easy to root for. Ray Milland also does an unusual turn here. He is both a man of intellect and action----clever, funny and brave. Paulette Goddard is a revelation to those who are unfamiliar with her screen work. Remember, this was 1942. The super-independent, feisty woman she plays with such enthusiasm----while a role model for today's feminists----also shows an understandable human vulnerability. She has never appeared in another film that allowed her to be strong, sexy and appealing all at the same time.
The extraordinary supporting cast is an absolute delight. They carry off some of the most outrageously cornball dialogue ever spoken with such conviction that it becomes enjoyable. Raymond Massey's slimy over-the-top villain is unique---and so is Robert Preston's pathetic character as Massey's far less crafty brother. Preston is given the task of uttering one of the film's most unforgettable lines when arriving at a prearranged meeting with his girl friend (a very young Susan Hayward) that may never EVER have been topped as a "groaner.".
Special mention should be made of the beautiful Technicolor employed in "Reap the Wild Wind", the engrossing special effects (outstanding for their time) and the exciting musical score written by Victor Young.
Altogether, this is a film that holds your interest from the start and never lets it down. It is grand entertainment from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Almost 65 years old, it is still fun to watch. Lots of fun!
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