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The Sea Wolf (1941)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama | 21 March 1941 (USA)
After being fished out of the sea by a sealer, three fugitives find themselves prisoners of the ship's brutal skipper who refuses to put them ashore and they hatch an escape plan during a crew mutiny.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

Jack London (novel), Robert Rossen (screen play)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Ida Lupino, John Garfield, Thomas Mitchell
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... 'Wolf' Larsen
Ida Lupino ... Ruth Brewster
John Garfield ... George Leach
Alexander Knox ... Humphrey Van Weyden
Gene Lockhart ... Dr. Prescott
Barry Fitzgerald ... Cooky
Stanley Ridges ... Johnson
David Bruce ... Young Sailor
Francis McDonald ... Svenson
Howard Da Silva ... Harrison
Frank Lackteen ... Smoke
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Storyline

Humphrey van Weyden, a writer, and fugitives Ruth Webster and George Leach have been given refuge aboard the sealer "Ghost," captained by the cruel Wolf Larsen. The crew mutinies against Larsen's many crimes, and though van Weyden, Ruth, and George try to escape Larsen's clutches, they find themselves drawn inexorably back to him as the "Ghost" sails toward disaster. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"POWER...FURY...RAGING...HATE...FEAR...UNFORGETTABLE!" The POWER and FURY of the RAGING sea surged from the pen of Jack London as he wrote this story of HATE-ridden 'Wolf' Larsen and his FEAR-crazed crew! And now, the year's greatest cast brings it to the screen...every scene alive...and UNFORGETTABLE! See more »

Genres:

Adventure | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 March 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sea Wolf See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,013,217 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(re-release) | (original) | (TCM print) (edited)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1947, Warner Bros. reissued the film under a double-feature with The Sea Hawk (1940). However, to squeeze more showings per day, "The Sea Wolf" was cut from 100 minutes to 86 minutes. The edits were made to the original camera negative and the footage was subsequently discarded. A 16mm print that once belonged to 'John Garfield' was in the possession of New York University, but Warner Bros. refused to release the film on DVD until a 35mm print of the longer version could be found. Warner ultimately found a complete 35mm print at the Museum of Modern Art, restored it, and released the film on DVD and Blu-Ray in October 2017. See more »

Goofs

Before the ferry is struck by the freighter, the captain of the ferry shouts "hard a-port", and the helmsman immediately starts turning the wheel to the right (starboard). In those days, the captain was directing which way to push the tiller or assembly, not the boat itself. see details below. See more »

Quotes

Humphrey Van Weyden: There's a price no man will pay for living.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was cut by approx. 12 minutes at some point (probably for reissue) down to 90 minutes - which is what is currently distributed on home video. The footage consists of little, but integral, moments throughout the story which add considerably to the quality of the film as a whole. The only known existing print of the original theatrical version is a 16mm print which belonged to the film's star, John Garfield. This print has reportedly been used to restore the picture to its original length. See more »

Connections

Version of The Sea Wolf (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Hello! Ma Baby
(uncredited)
Music by Joseph E. Howard
Lyrics by Ida Emerson
Played on piano and sung by Jeane Cowan in the bar
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

The best version of this old chestnut, despite plot changes.
9 February 2003 | by robertguttmanSee all my reviews

Jack London's novel "The Sea Wolf" is one of those old chestnuts that seemingly won't go away. It has served as an subject for movies almost since they began being made, including Italian and Russian versions. This 1941 Warner version remains the definitive screen adaptation, however, in spite of numerous alterations to the plot of the original novel.

In the book, Wolf Larson is a giant Norwegian sea captain who rules his ship by virtue of his strength and brutality. He is the embodiment of the old joke which runs: "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I shall fear no evil, because I am the meanest, toughest son of a b--- in the valley!" One would ordinarily think that the five foot six inches tall Edward G. Robinson would be a poor choice to play such a character. However, Robinson is a good enough actor, and a forceful enough screen personality, to carry it off.

John Garfield is equally perfect as a chip-on-the-shoulder working class seaman who dares to oppose Larson. He's a perfect foil for Robinson, and it's great fun watching the two of them snarl at each other like a couple of wild dogs.

Ida Lupino and Alexander Knox do some of their best work as the two castaways rescued by Larson's vessel. Lupino plays a female ex-convict trying to conceal her past, and Knox is an effete writer whom Larson decides to educate in what he considers the ways of the real world.

Gene Lockhart and Barry Fitzgerald are equally good in supporting roles as the ship's drunken and degraded doctor, and the thoroughly corrupt cook. It is particularly refreshing to see Fitzgerald play a really unpleasant character for a change, and one can only wonder why he didn't get more parts like this. In The Sea Wolf, Fitzgerald plays an individual so slimy that one almost expects to see him leave a trail behind him, like a slug.

Director Michael Curtiz managed to impart a dank and foggy atmosphere to The Sea Wolf that seems to suit the story perfectly, and that feeling is enhanced by Erich Korngold's moody score. The first view of the schooner "Ghost", looming out of the fog like a real ghost, is particularly memorable.

Granted, the ending differs radically from that of the book. This film's ending seems rather more satisfying than London's was, however. London was virtually forced to end the novel the way he did because it is presented in narrative form and the writer, Van Wyden, is the one actually telling the story. Warner Brothers could change the ending because, as a movie, the story was no longer restricted to Van Wyden's point of view.


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