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Duke falls for Flaxen in the Barbary Coast in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. He loses money to crooked gambler Tito, goes home and PL: learns to gamble, and returns. After he makes a ... See full summary »
I have to say that for all those other reviewers who compared Wake of the Red Witch to Wuthering Heights I am grateful. I'd never really thought of it that way, but it is definitely true.
The Duke is hardly the classically trained actor that Laurence Olivier is, but as I've remarked in other reviews his was one of the great faces for movie closeups. His expressions are worth ten pages of dialog. And he is probably in his most romantic role as Captain Ralls of the Red Witch.
Of course this film is most compared to Reap the Wild Wind where also for romantic reasons, John Wayne piled a ship on the reefs and later went after the salvage. But though the other film is a big budget product from one of the premier studios, Wake of the Red Witch is a much better story.
The story is seen through the eyes of Gig Young as Wayne's first mate. Wayne sinks the Red Witch because his employer, the malevolent Luther Adler has taken the lovely Gail Russell from him, through the connivance of her father Henry Daniell.
Wayne gets not one, but three underwater scenes unlike in Reap the Wild Wind. He rescues young Fernando Alvarado from a giant claim, kills a giant octopus for native pearls and searches for gold bullion on the sunken Red Witch. All the sequences are nicely done.
The ending, some elements of Wuthering Heights are here. But I think it has more of a Maytime flavor to it.
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