Thursday, January 3, 2008

Essential Cinema - 16

Cargo To Capetown

Broderick Crawford
John Ireland
Ellen Drew
Edgar Buchanan
Ted de Corsia
Robert Espinoza
Leonard Strong

Earl McEvoy

Lionel Houser

Charles Lawton Jr.

A tramp steamer outruns a typhoon to Capetown, South Africa, with a disgruntled crew and a love triangle between the Captain, the Chief Engineer and his fiance.

Second chances and re-thinking past mistakes. Macho defeats love in the short-term, but compassion triumphs in the end. A trip back to simpler times when everything was black and white, literally.

This film was supposedly made as a follow up to "All The King's Men", which also starred Crawford and Ireland. "All The King's Men" got a lot of Oscar buzz, so the studios thought they could make lightening strike twice. They sort of missed the mark. This is a competent film, but can hardly be considered great film making.

This film rehashes the tried and true cinema gimmick of trapping adults in a confined space so they must face their past and confront the present. There is a bit of a fantasy element in the concept of a world in which tramp steamers were the semi-trucks of their day, ferrying oil and cargo across the ocean highways of the world. Crewed by men with checkered pasts who lived a nomadic lifestyle. It probably isn't very accurately portrayed in this film, but it does make you wonder.

The camera tends to linger on Ellen Drew's character a lot and she is working her "Betty Davis Eyes" as much as possible. The script and plot lines of the film seem a bit strained from time to time. The roots of the past love affair between the captain and the fiance are never explained. The small boy that longs to go to sea only to be crushed by oil cans in the storm doesn't really make a lot of sense and his acting is terrible.

This is not a very deep film. The basic concept is how folks forced together on a ship in the middle of the ocean have to work as a team and overcome their past differences. Nothing more, nothing less.