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Reap the Wild Wind

Reap the Wild Wind
DVD cover with cast out of order
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Thelma Strabel (book)
Based on Reap the Wild Wind (1941 novel)
Starring Ray Milland
John Wayne
Paulette Goddard
Robert Preston
Susan Hayward
Charles Bickford
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Victor Milner
William Skall
Edited by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • March 18, 1942 (1942-03-18)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4 million (US/ Canada rentals) [1]

Reap the Wild Wind was a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post, which was the basis for the 1942 film starring Ray Milland, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Robert Preston, and Susan Hayward, and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, his second picture to be filmed in color. The movie, released shortly after the United States' entry into World War II, was a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1840s along the Florida coast, and was wildly successful.

While he based his film on Strabel's story, DeMille took liberties with details such as sibling relationships and sub-plots, while staying true to the spirit of the story, which centers on a headstrong, independent woman portrayed by Paulette Goddard.


  • Plot of the film 1
  • Milestones 2
  • Cast 3
  • Awards 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Plot of the film

As the film opens, Loxi Claiborne (Paulette Goddard) is running a salvage business started by her deceased father. A hurricane is just passing through the Key West area, leaving behind at least one wreck on the nearby shoals. The Jubilee founders and Loxi and other salvagers race to claim the cargo. Not arriving first, Loxi and her crew rescue the captain, Jack Stuart (John Wayne), but do not share in the salvage rights. It appears that the first salvor on the scene, King Cutler (Raymond Massey), may have actually planned the wreck.

Nursing Jack back to health, Loxi falls in love with him. When she visits Charleston with her cousin Drusilla (Susan Hayward), Loxi schemes to win a plum captain's position for Jack by seducing Steve Tolliver (Ray Milland), who is running the sailing ship line Jack works for. Steve falls for Loxi and returns with her to Key West to investigate the truth about Jack's shipwreck.

Drusilla goes home to Havana when Loxi and Steve return to Key West. Steve has come to rid the Keys of pirates like Cutler (and to be near Loxi). Cutler in turn arranges to have Steve shanghaied by the crew of a whaler. Loxi hears of the plot and gets Jack to help her save Steve. Later, they discover that Steve has concealed Jack's appointment to the steamship Southern Cross on orders from his superior. Angry over a seemingly underhanded act, Jack meets with Cutler. He then learns that Steve's boss has just died, and Steve will be taking over the ship line. Jack realizes that he is unlikely to keep his command with Steve in charge. He agrees to work with Cutler to sabotage his new ship and sails to Havana to take command.

John Wayne as Jack Stuart in
Reap the Wild Wind (1942)

Rumors circulate and prices of the cargo of the Southern Cross go up and down wildly, leaving Steve to suspect a wreck is planned. He commandeers the Claiborne with Loxi on board and heads to Havana to stop Jack. Loxi, believing Jack is innocent, disables her ship, and they sit becalmed in a fog bank as the Southern Cross piles into a reef and sinks. Unknown to Jack, Drusilla had stowed away to be with her lover, King's brother Dan Cutler (Robert Preston), and she is drowned.

Jack is put on trial for wrecking his ship. The testimony reveals a woman may have been on board, though none was rescued. To determine if a woman is in the wreck, Steve agrees to dive to the wreck with Jack. While down in the wreck, Jack and Steve discover proof that Drusilla was on board and has been drowned. They are attacked by a giant squid. Jack saves Steve's life but is lost when the Southern Cross slips off the underwater shelf into deep water. Dan Cutler accuses his brother of murder and is shot dead by him, whereupon Steve shoots King Cutler, killing him.

Loxi winds up in Charleston with Steve, apparently now in love with him.


Jack (John Wayne) prepares to dive

The film is unusual among films starring John Wayne. Foremost, it is one of relatively few films in which he plays a character with a notable dark side. He had second thoughts about signing on since he was unsure how his fans would react to him being bested by a "foppish" Ray Milland. Additionally, it is also one of only eleven feature films in which Wayne's character is dead by the closing credits. The other films are The Deceiver, The Sea Chase, Central Airport, The Alamo, The Cowboys, Wake of the Red Witch, The Fighting Seabees, Sands of Iwo Jima and The Shootist. The eleventh is The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance though his character was dead at the beginning of the film and his death was not depicted in the film.

This film also marks the final appearance by Hedda Hopper as an actress in a significant role. The gossip columnist would, however, make cameo appearances in subsequent films.



The film won an Academy Award and was nominated for two more:[2][3]


See also


  1. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  2. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-22. 
  3. ^ "NY Times: Reap the Wild Wind". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 

External links

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