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Reap the Wild Wind/B,B+

Universal/1942/124m//FS 1.33

     A big, beautiful Cecil B. DeMille production, Reap the Wild Wind is a good representation of the pioneer director’s work. Set in picturesque locations like Charleston and the Florida Keys, Reap the Wild Wind is both an adventure and a romance. On one side are the big shipping companies running their big cargo ships out of Charleston and then there are the salvage ships, haunting the Keys like vultures awaiting shipwreck. To further complicate matters, there are the good salvage ships led by beautiful Loxi Claiborne and the pirate salvagers, led be the onerous King Cutler. When Cutler sabotages Captain Jack Stuart’s ship in order to claim salvage, Godard arrives to save the skipper and his crew. It’s love at first site for the rugged seaman and feisty woman competing in a man’s world.
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Two New York girls dressed for DeMille ŠUniversal

     Once back in Charleston, old Commodore Devereaux rakes Stuart over the coals for losing his ship. Meanwhile, Loxi has proceeded to Charleston to plead Jack Stuart’s case as the new Southern Cross, the fleet’s flagship steam vessel to Steve Tolliver, Devereaux’s heir apparent. Toilliver falls head over heels for Loxi, Stuart and Tolliver battle over the beauty and before DeMille is through telling his tale of the sea, there’s dirty doings at sea, a hokey trial and a battle with a giant squid. The melodrama is as powerful as the rough seas.
     Starring the earthly Paulette Godard as Loxi Claiborne, with some girl support from Susan Hayward(These two native New Yorkers play Southern ladies with sass: That’s Hollywood for you!), Reap the Wild Wind loads up lots of DeMille marquee production oomph. The men are cast to type, though it’s one of the few times you’ll John Wayne playing the heavy—well, semi heavy. Ray Milland does some good work as Steve Tolliver, while Wayne’s crack sea captain Jack Stuart is convincingly rugged. Godard flits and flirts between the two principal guys before Wayne makes a sudden turn to the dark side and disappoints the lovely lady. Raymond Massey’s deep bass voice delivers the bulk of bad guy lines and Robert Preston brings his usual screen enthusiasm as Massey’s son.
     Oh, man, that 3-strip Technicolor can produce some luscious color. Check out the parrot in an early scene: Absolutely magnificent! Reap the Wild Wind appear to be part of a new Universal DVD strategy of releasing a vintage classic, a popular seventies film, and batch of newer films with each wave of monthly DVD released. Happily, the three-strip Technicolor elements for Reap the Wild Wind are in excellent condition. There are very few registration problems, which plagued the recent Gone with the Wind DVD. There are some bits of dirt and scratches on the transfer elements, but they never reduce effectiveness of the transfer. Sharp images, stable colors and vivid contrast all make for a rousing DVD experience. The mono sound is clean and serviceable.