Reap the Wild Wind

Reap the Wild Wind is a 1942 American adventure film starring Ray Milland, John Wayne, Paulette Goddard, Raymond Massey, Robert Preston, and Susan Hayward, and directed by Cecil B. DeMille, his second picture to be filmed in color. It is based on a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post. 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.

Reap the Wild Wind
Reap the Wild Wind.jpg
DVD cover with cast out of order
Directed byCecil B. DeMille
Produced byCecil B. DeMille
Written byThelma Strabel (book)
Screenplay byCharles Bennett
Jesse Lasky, Jr.
Alan Le May
Jeanie Macpherson
Based onReap the Wild Wind (1941 novel)
StarringRay Milland
John Wayne
Paulette Goddard
Robert Preston
Susan Hayward
Charles Bickford
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyVictor Milner
William Skall
Edited byAnne Bauchens
Color processTechnicolor
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 26, 1942 (1942-03-26)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4 million (US/ Canada rentals) [1]

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


In 1840, Loxi Claiborne (Goddard) is running a marine salvage business started by her deceased father. A hurricane is 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 (Wayne), but do not share in the salvage rights. Apparently, the first salvager on the scene, King Cutler (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 (Hayward), Loxi schemes to win a plum captain's position for Jack by seducing Steve Tolliver (Milland), who is running the sailing ship line for which Jack works. 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 learns that Steve's boss has just died and that Steve will be taking over the shipping line. Jack realizes that he is unlikely to keep his command with Steve in charge and agrees to work with Cutler to sabotage his new ship; he 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 fluctuate 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 Cutler's brother Dan (Preston), and she 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 continental 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 and Steve return to Charleston together.



Jack (John Wayne) prepares to dive

The film is unusual among films starring John Wayne since it is one of relatively few films in which he plays a character with a notable dark side. Wayne subsequently starred in a 1948 seafaring adventure titled Wake of the Red Witch which had numerous similarities to Reap the Wild Wind, including Wayne's portrayal of an even darker character.

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.


At the 15th Academy Awards, Reap the Wild Wind won an Academy Award and was nominated for two more:[3][4]


Reap the Wild Wind received two awards in The Film Daily's Filmdom's Famous Fives poll:[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  2. ^ Freese, Gene Scott (April 10, 2014). Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s-1970s: A Biographical Dictionary (2nd ed.). McFarland & Company. p. 75. ISBN 9780786476435.
  3. ^ "The 15th Academy Awards (1943) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-22.
  4. ^ "NY Times: Reap the Wild Wind". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2008-12-15.
  5. ^ "Filmdom's Famous Fives: Screen's Greatest Elected by the Reviewers of the Nation". The Film Daily. 82 (120): 8. December 22, 1942.

External linksEdit