The movie was enthusiastically received both by the critics and by the public and was nominated for three Academy Awards, winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and losing out for Best Art Direction (Hans Dreier, Roland Anderson, George Sawley) and Best Cinematography.
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The plot concerns a love triangle set in the Florida Keys in the 1840's where piracy reigns. A rare female ship salvager, played by Paulette Goddard, falls in love with a ship's captain, played by John Wayne, and faces an unscrupulous rival (Raymond Massey) who may be sabotaging ships. Near the end there is a highly unlikely, but nevertheless, spectacular and utterly riveting underwater battle in which a giant squid kills John Wayne, thereby allowing Ray Milland to eventually win Goddard.
The movie is unusual in that it shows John Wayne playing a less than scrupulously honest character. It is also one of only eleven movies in which Wayne's character dies. Paulette Goddard got her part after narrowly missing out on the Scarlett O'Hara role in 'Gone With the Wind'. The movie is also notable for the final appearance by Hedda Hopper as an actress in a major role.
Main CastRay Milland ... Steven Tolliver
John Wayne ... Jack Stuart
Paulette Goddard ... Loxi Claiborne
Raymond Massey ... King Cutler
Robert Preston ... Dan Cutler
Lynne Overman ... Capt. Philpott
Susan Hayward ... Drusilla Alston
Charles Bickford ... Bully Brown
Walter Hampden ... Cmmdre. Devereaux
Louise Beavers ... Maum Maria
Martha O'Driscoll ... Ivy Devereaux
Elisabeth Risdon ... Mrs. Claiborne
Hedda Hopper ... Aunt Henrietta Beresford
Victor Kilian ... Mathias Widgeon
Oscar Polk ... Salt Meat
CreditsDirector ... Cecil B. DeMille
Producer ... Cecil B. de Mille
Production Company ... Paramount Pictures Inc.
Story by ... Based on the novel by Thelma Strabel
Screenplay ... Alan LeMay, Charles Bennett, Jesse Lasky Jr.
Format ... Color (Technicolor)
Music ... Victor Young
Cinematography ... Victor Milner, William V. Skall
Release date ... March 18, 1942
Running time ... 124 minutes
Academy AwardsOne Win:
Special Effects ... (Photographic) Gordon Jennings, Farciot Edouart, William L. Pereira; (Sound) Louis Mesenkop
Two Unsuccessful Nominations:
Art/Set Direction ... Han Dreier, Roland Anderson/George Sawley
Cinematography (Color) ... Victor Milner, William V. Skall