Who could pass up the chance to see John Wayne fight with a giant octopus? Unfortunately, the rest of this DeMille epic dragged for me.
The setting is Key West, Florida sometime before the American Civil War. The main occupation of the town is the rescue and salvage of ships that founder on the coast. King Cutler (Raymond Massey) is widely suspected of giving the ships a little push toward disaster.
Loxi Claiborne (Paulette Goddard) is a fiery tomboy who relishes dressing in man’s clothes and assisting in salvage operations. Her cousin Druscilla (Susan Hayward) is secretly in love with King Cutler’s brother Dan (Robert Preston).
Captain Jack Stewart (John Wayne) commands a ship that founders with the assistance of the evil Cutler. He is blamed by his employer for the wreck. Loxi falls for Captain Jack and determines to assist him when he meets the boss in South Carolina.
Captain Jack also longs to be put in charge of a new-fangled steam ship. But the supposedly effete Steven Tolliver (Ray Milland), a relative of the boss, has an inside track on the job. When Loxi meets Steven, it is love at first sight for him and Loxi starts using her feminine wiles on him to help Captain Jack.
The plot of this thing is too complicated to go on with. Suffice it to say that the love triangle is resolved dramatically and John Wayne does indeed defeat a giant octopus.
This kind of DeMille epic just isn’t for me. The performances are OK but the 2+ hour movie could have been trimmed by more than half an hour. The action sequences, while way too far apart, look good.
Reap the Wild Wind won an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Effects. It was nominated in the categories of Best Cinematography, Color and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color.
Clip — The battle with the octopus!