What's this? John Wayne as a German sea captain and Lana Turner as a Teutonic adventuress? Yep, it's true, but the result was exactly what one might have expected: a trite, dull, and uneventful picture that was ill-conceived from the start. Director Farrow knew something about the sea,
having once served as a sailor as well as having directed TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST and BOTANY BAY. Naturally, Wayne could never portray a Nazi, so he is one of those Germans who opposed the Hitler regime and paid for idealism by being given command of a rickety freighter. He's in the Australian
area and wants to return home via Chile. On the ship are Turner, a spy who loves him; Bettger, the first mate; Hunter and Davalos, also mates. Farrar, a one-time pal of Wayne's, heads a British ship assigned to blow Wayne out of the water. Wayne's ship docks off New Zealand and he sends his men on
a foray for food and gear. There are several fishermen on the island and Bettger kills them on his own, without any orders from Wayne. When Farrar finds the slaughter it makes him all the more determined to catch Wayne. Further, Turner is engaged to Farrar, although he doesn't know she was acting
on behalf of her government. When Wayne learns what Bettger has done, he is enraged. The ship makes it to Valparaiso where they get a huge welcome from the expatriate Germans who live there. Farrar, in a much faster ship, is getting closer. Wayne forces Bettger to write of his foul murders in the
ship's log. At sea, there is a series of occurrences which include: a storm, a shark attack which takes the life of Davalos, and an attempt to convince other boats that this German freighter is a banana boat from Panama. In the end, Farrar catches up with the boat and a battle rages which results
in the German boat sinking with Wayne and Turner still aboard. One lifeboat slips away, and on that boat Turner has placed the ship's log that will eventually absolve Wayne of the crime of killing the fishermen. At the film's conclusion, we're never sure of the fate of the two leads, as Farrar,
who is narrating the picture, states some words to the effect that: "We looked as hard as we could. Had they died at sea or were they able to reach the fjords nearby? Only two people can answer that question, but, knowing Ehrlich [Wayne] the way I do, I have my own opinion."
This was Turner's first film for Warner Brothers in 17 years and a poor choice for her return to the Burbank lot. There have been other films about the same subject, including THE PURSUIT OF THE GRAF SPEE and THE ENEMY BELOW. Wayne never used a German accent, so he sounded odd against the others
who attempted to do something different. Moss Mabry did a fine job designing Turner's clothing, all of which miraculously fit into a small bag she toted on board. She had enough clothing and accessories for a trip around the world...Hollywood magic at its best. It was shot from the end of
September through the middle of December of 1954. In a small role, note the man who took a TV job when Wayne turned it down and became one of the richest and most recognizable actors ever, James Arness.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: What's this? John Wayne as a German sea captain and Lana Turner as a Teutonic adventuress? Yep, it's true, but the result was exactly what one might have expected: a trite, dull, and uneventful picture that was ill-conceived from the start. Director Farrow… (more)