7.1/10
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34 user 27 critic

Swamp Water (1941)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 30 April 1942 (Uruguay)
Attempting to find his lost dog in a vast Georgia swamp, Ben Ragan stumbles upon wanted murderer Tom Keefer who convinces Ben he was framed for the murder by the real killer.

Directors:

Jean Renoir, Irving Pichel (uncredited)

Writers:

Vereen Bell (novel), Dudley Nichols
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Brennan ... Tom Keefer
Walter Huston ... Thursday Ragan
Anne Baxter ... Julie
Dana Andrews ... Ben
Virginia Gilmore ... Mabel MacKenzie
John Carradine ... Jesse Wick
Mary Howard ... Hannah
Eugene Pallette ... Sheriff Jeb McKane
Ward Bond ... Tim Dorson
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Bud Dorson (as Guinn Williams)
Russell Simpson ... Marty McCord
Joe Sawyer ... Hardy Ragan (as Joseph Sawyer)
Paul E. Burns ... Tulle McKenzie (as Paul Burns)
Dave Morris 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 April 1942 (Uruguay) See more »

Also Known As:

El pantano de la muerte See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$601,900 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Jean Renoir, who was working on his first American film, and executive producer Darryl F. Zanuck infamously clashed during the making of this film. The crux of the disagreement between the men stemmed from Renoir's desire to shoot on location and use moving camera shots and Zanuck's desire to shoot the film quickly and cheaply on a studio lot. Renoir ultimately emerged victorious in many of these disputes, but not before the working relationship between the men was permanently ruined. See more »

Goofs

The first shot has the camera backing up behind a skull marker in the swamp to reveal a few hunting canoes beyond it, and in front of the shot you can see the ripples made from the boat holding the camera: And this is not a perspective of someone else as it takes place behind the skull marker, where no one's allowed to pass. See more »

Quotes

Ben: It's funny I never noticed - but you're a heap prettier than Mabel is - if you was a little bigger.
Julie: I could grow more maybe!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in 'Round Midnight (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
SWAMP WATER (Jean Renoir, 1941) ***
24 June 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

If one didn't know beforehand who directed this film (which proved to be Renoir's U.S. debut), he would be excused for thinking it was made by John Ford - given the presence of a good number of his stock company of actors (Walter Brennan, John Carradine, Ward Bond, Russell Simpson) and the music score utilizing themes from THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940), which was also a 20th Century-Fox production! Still, Renoir's uniquely humanist outlook is unmistakable - which is only betrayed by the one-dimensional Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum pairing of Bond (here practically duplicating his villainous role in Ford's YOUNG MR. LINCOLN [1939]) and Guinn Williams.

An altogether impressive production, with the overpowering atmosphere of the Okefenokee beautifully captured by Renoir and veteran cinematographer Peverell Marley (despite some obvious back-projection); the use of shadowy lighting is especially striking. Its concern with realism also extends to some rather physical violence for the time and a couple of unnerving scenes involving prowling alligators and snakes! Consequently, the film is vastly underrated in the director's canon (especially having now watched all his American features). While it may have served as a sort of dry run for Renoir's own THE SOUTHERNER (1945), the film also looks forward to INTRUDER IN THE DUST (1949) - which, similarly, dealt with a miscarriage of justice.

With regards to casting, I don't agree with Leonard Maltin who felt that Walter Brennan's fugitive constituted "bizarre miscasting" (certainly no more than his uncharacteristic if brilliant turn as Old Man Clanton in Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE [1946]): despite receiving top billing, he appears very little but his presence permeates the entire film. Walter Huston is never less than good in anything he does, but his gruff patriarch here isn't all that central to the plot; interestingly, the actor later appeared in a film by another expatriate French director - Rene' Clair's AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (1945). Conversely, Dana Andrews makes quite an impression as his rebellious but subsequently heroic young son - and this film must surely have put him on his way to becoming a veritable leading-man. The film also has Andrews forsaking egotistical village belle Virginia Gilmore for the raggedy but radiant Anne Baxter (whose real identity has been shielded from most of the community). To spite Andrews, the former takes up with another man: the actor's face was familiar to me but I couldn't quite place it, that is, until I saw his name during the end credits - it was none other than Matt Willis, who would go on to play Bela Lugosi's werewolf acolyte in THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1944)! Similarly, Huston's young bride (played by Mary Howard) is pursued by an atypically meek, almost pitiful Carradine - though it later transpires that he was involved in Brennan's framing!

Surely one of the film's most endearing aspects is the unconditional love shown by both Andrews and Brennan to the former's wayward dog, hence the name of Trouble (which even occupies the film's very last shot via a well-deserved close-up!). As for the attractively-packaged DVD itself, the overall quality of the film's transfer was acceptable (though print damage was evident on occasion); I don't usually buy bare-bones discs, but the very reasonable price-tag and the fact that this rarely-screened film is as yet unavailable on R1 made the purchase virtually a no-brainer - and it has certainly made me game to pick up some more exclusive R2 stuff, above all the SE of Lewis Milestone's war drama THE PURPLE HEART (1944), also featuring Dana Andrews and a film I missed out on during my tenure in Hollywood...


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