Reap the Wild Wind

1942 Action/Adventure | Drama | Romance

Cecil B. DeMille's Technicolor historical spectacle Reap the Wild Wind was to have starred Gary Cooper, but Cooper's prior commitment to Goldwyn's Pride of the Yankees compelled DeMille to recast the leading role with John Wayne. The film, set in the mid-19th century, centers around Key West, Florida, where piracy reigns unchecked. Wayne plays the captain of a salvage business, working on behalf of Raymond Massey to rescue valuables from the merchant ships wrecked by pirates. During one expedition, Wayne is rescued from drowning by Paulette Goddard, the hoydenish manager of a rival salvage firm. Goddard arranges for Wayne to go to work for her boss, Ray Milland, and a romantic rivalry ensues. Later on, Goddard's cousin Susan Hayward is lost at sea when her ship is attacked by pirates. Wayne is accused of engineering the wreck, thanks to the duplicity of Massey, the real brains of the pirate operation. Wayne and Milland both don deep-sea diving gear and swim to the bottom in search of evidence. When Milland is attacked by an octopus, Wayne saves his rival's life at the expense of his own. Massey is exposed, and Milland wins Goddard. Essentially a standard maritime meller, Reap the Wild Wind takes on the veneer of importance thanks to DeMille's epic treatment of the material. Though competition is fierce, Ray Milland steals the show with a truly offbeat characterization (he even gets to indulge in a little ventriloquism!) ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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