Reap the Wild Wind
Action / Adventure / Drama
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille Ray Milland as Stephen Tolliver
John Wayne as Captain Jack Stuart
Paulette Goddard as Loxi Claiborne
Raymond Massey as King Cutler
Robert Preston as Dan Cutler
Lynne Overman as Captain Phillip Philpott
Susan Hayward as Drusilla Alston
Charles Bickford as Mate of the 'Tyfib'
Walter Hampden as Commodore Devereaux
Louise Beavers as Maum Maria
Martha O'Driscoll as Ivy Devereaux
During the 1840s the sea provided America’s vital highway for commerce . One of the most dangerous journeys for ships was in the Caribbean coming around the tip of Florida. Hurricanes and storms were common, and ships would be dashed upon the shore trying to reach the east coast. Along with the ship’s wreckage would be dead and dying men and precious cargo. Unscrupulous scavengers would swoop in and loot the cargo, and make life difficult for salvage teams that were sent to recover cargo and help save the sailors of the unfortunate vessels. Therein lies the setting for Reap the Wild Wind.
Captain Jack Stuart is in charge of the cargo ship Jubilee, owned by the Devereaux Company. Unbeknownst to Jack his first mate, Mathias Widgeon, is actually being paid by a particularly unscrupulous scavenger called King Cutler to purposefully crash the ship so that Cutler can loot the cargo. During a storm, Mathias knocks Jack unconscious and then steers the ship towards the rocks. Jack is rescued by Captain Phillip and his daughter Loxi, honest salvagers who work for the company. Loxi and her father are able to save Jack, but not the cargo as Cutler and his crew have gotten there first. As Jack convalesces at Loxi’s home, she cannot help but fall for him. Jack tells Loxi that his dream is to captain the Devereaux’s finest steamship, The Southern Cross, but is afraid that after this latest incident they will not allow it. Loxi goes to Charleston, South Carolina for a visit with her aunt, and runs into Stephen Tolliver, a lawyer for the Devereaux Company, who is investigating Jack’s case. Loxi intends to help Jack by swaying Stephen’s opinion, but her charms prove to be too potent, and Stephen falls for her completely. Unbeknownst to Loxi is that Stephen is already sympathetic to Jack’s plight and has every intention of helping him. Commodore Devereaux agrees to make Jack first mate of an aging ship called The Pelican until Stephen can prove his innocence. Stephen goes to Loxi to propose, but is rebuffed, as Loxi has strong feelings for Jack. Stephen is determined not to lose Loxi, goes to The Pelican, where Loxi and Jack have planned a hasty wedding and interrupts, throwing Loxi overboard and knocking Jack out. Later Jack and Loxi come to Stephen’s aid when a team of pirates are ordered by King Cutler to kidnap Stephen and sell him to a whaling vessel. After the fight, Stephen ends up selling the pirates to the whaling vessel when it comes to collect. After the scuffle, Jack goes after Cutler, and Loxi finds a note in Stephen’s coat giving Jack command of the Southern Cross and mistakenly believes that Stephen is purposefully withholding this information because of his animosity towards Jack. When Jack finds Cutler, the silver tongued devil works his magic on Jack, convincing him that now that Devereaux has died, Stephen will be in charge of the company, and will never make Jack captain of the Southern Cross. Jack believes him and makes a deal to crash the ship for Cutler, thus striking back at his perceived enemy, Stephen. Stephen notices that the cost for cargo for the Southern Cross is unusually low, and suspects that something is afoot. He convinces Loxi’s father to travel with him and trail the Southern Cross, which wrecks, as expected. During the court proceedings that follow, Jack and Stephen go down to the wreckage of the ship, where Jack has been ordered by Cutler to kill Stephen. Instead, Jack sacrifices himself to save Stephen when they are attacked by a giant squid.
Reap the Wild Wind won an Academy Award for special effects and was nominated for two other Oscars, for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography.
Reap the Wild Wind was originally a series of stories written by Thelma Stabel in 1940 and published in the Saturday Evening Post.
As a rare occurrence, John Wayne plays a character with a dark side, who succumbs to the plot of the villain and falls from grace. Wayne almost did not accept the role due to this, as he was unsure of how his fans would react. It is also unusual that John Wayne dies in the movie. There are only 11 features where this occurs; they are "The Deceiver", "Central Airport", " The Alamo ", "The Cowboys", "Wake of the Red Witch", "The Fighting Seabees", "Sands of Iwo Jima" and "The Shootist".
Although Ray Milland received top billing when the movie was released in 1942, John Wayne took the top spot when the film was re-released in 1954.
It took two months of filming to capture the underwater footage for the Southern Cross.
After filming, the giant rubber squid in the underwater sequence was donated by the studio to the war effort due to the scarcity of rubber. At the time, the Japanese had conquered Malaya and Indochina, which supplied the majority of the world’s rubber.
Originally Cecil B. DeMille wanted Errol Flynn to play John Wayne’s role, but Jack Warner of Warner Bros. Studios would not loan him out.
Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard reprised their roles in 1943 for a Lux Radio Theater 60 minute radio adaptation of the film.
The underwater sequences were filmed at the Pacific Marine Museum in Malibu, Ca.