The 1997 documentary, The Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender (1997), uses footage of Gary Cooper and George Raft hanging by their thumbs in Souls at Sea (1937) to illustrate the homoerotic possibilities in showing bare-chested men suffering in bondage. There's also a suggestion that the relationship in Hollywood movies between the leading man and his male best friend, while not overtly sexual, is often stronger and deeper than the relationship between the leading man and his leading lady. See more »
Gary Cooper says he will not be a stool pigeon. See more »
Upper crust. A fluffy duff. You oughta plop that kind.
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I was hoping for a melodrama instead, but the emphasis here is on the narrative rather than on action. But I am pleased to report that my headline is accurate, because "Souls At Sea" is a very interesting story about a subject barely touched upon in Hollywood's long, colorful history. Reading through other reviewers takes on the film, it qualifies more accurately as a semi-historical drama, although not the first story Hollywood has taken liberties with. The temptation is to call "Souls At Sea" a 'seafaring yarn', but, as I said, it is heavy on talk and light on second unit work.
In any case, this offbeat movie has Gary Cooper faced with a moral dilemma as an abolitionist involved in the slave trade in the middle of the 19th century. His sidekick is George Raft, in as sympathetic a role as he ever had and one of his best acting jobs (never one of his strong points). Frances Dee is an ingenue on board the ship in question, and George Zucco plays a good guy for a change. Particularly effective is the background music which won an AA nomination for composer Milan Roder. Henry Wilcoxon is an effective bad guy and Olympe Bradna, whose film appearances were too few, is touching as a maidservant and love interest for George Raft.
Very well done, as is the norm with a Henry Hathaway picture. The story is so absorbing that the viewer nearly forgets about the lack of action scenes, and is well worth my rating of seven.
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