Strange Cargo (1940)

111 or 113 mins | Allegory | 1 March 1940

Director:

Frank Borzage

Writer:

Lawrence Hazard

Cinematographer:

Robert Planck

Editor:

Robert J. Kern

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

A working title for this film was Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep . The picture was the last of eight films co-starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. News items reported that many of the film's exteriors were filmed on location in Pismo Beach, CA. According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in Oct 1939, the PCA urged M-G-M not to show scenes of illicit sex, the "reading of the Bible with sarcasm" and the throwing away of the Bible. A Mar 1940 NYT news item notes that the Legion of Decency placed the film in the "condemned" category and protested the film's "anaturalistic concept of religion contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic church." A HR news item indicates that Strange Cargo was banned in Detroit. In England, censors deleted the scene in which the convict discusses the Bible and identifies himself with God. Modern sources indicate that the film was also banned in Boston and Providence, RI. A biographical source on producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz quotes him as saying: "It was almost a good film. I wish it could have been made later. It was tough doing any kind of film that even approached reality in any way." According to modern sources, some retakes were shot in mid-Jan ... More Less

A working title for this film was Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep . The picture was the last of eight films co-starring Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. News items reported that many of the film's exteriors were filmed on location in Pismo Beach, CA. According to the file for the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, in Oct 1939, the PCA urged M-G-M not to show scenes of illicit sex, the "reading of the Bible with sarcasm" and the throwing away of the Bible. A Mar 1940 NYT news item notes that the Legion of Decency placed the film in the "condemned" category and protested the film's "anaturalistic concept of religion contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Catholic church." A HR news item indicates that Strange Cargo was banned in Detroit. In England, censors deleted the scene in which the convict discusses the Bible and identifies himself with God. Modern sources indicate that the film was also banned in Boston and Providence, RI. A biographical source on producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz quotes him as saying: "It was almost a good film. I wish it could have been made later. It was tough doing any kind of film that even approached reality in any way." According to modern sources, some retakes were shot in mid-Jan 1940. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
28 Feb 40
p. 3.
Film Daily
5 Mar 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Oct 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 39
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Oct 39
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 39
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 39
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Feb 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Mar 40
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
5 May 40
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Nov 39
p. 54.
Motion Picture Herald
9 Mar 40
p. 48.
New York Times
26 Apr 40
p. 25.
New York Times
27-Mar-40
---
Variety
6 Mar 40
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Frank Borzage Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr to dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Supv of const of Guiana penal colony
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep by Richard Sale (London and New York, 1936).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Not Too Narrow, Not Too Deep
Release Date:
1 March 1940
Production Date:
17 October--28 December 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
27 February 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9466
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
111 or 113
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5982
SYNOPSIS

At a penal colony in French Guiana, Verne, an incorrigible prisoner, makes an escape attempt but is turned in by Julie, a prostitute whom he accosts. Verne blackmails his way into another escape party led by Moll, a brutal killer who beats Verne in his sleep and leaves him behind. Cambreau, a benevolent, mysterious stranger who has recently appeared at the prison, leaves Verne a map of the escape route, however, and he follows, stopping en route to rescue Julie, who has been evicted from the colony and is being held at the mercy of Marfeu, her cruel captor. Julie and Verne join the escape party, which consists of Telez, a religious hypocrite; Hessler, a cynical bluebeard; Flaubert, a repulsive paranoiac; Dufond, a cowardly young man; Moll; and Cambreau, whose inexplicable foresight and wisdom saves the party again and again. As the convicts cross the jungle and leave the island in a boat, many of the party die, but are led to spiritual redemption by Cambreau at the moment of death. Only Verne, Julie, Hessler and Cambreau reach the mainland. Hessler, the only unrepentant convict, leaves the group while Julie, who has fallen in love with Verne, agrees to leave with the villainous M'sieu Pig, who covets her, to prevent him from reporting Verne. About to kill Cambreau to prevent him from talking, Verne realizes that Cambreau is God and repents, turning himself in. Julie, her sacrifice no longer necessary, agrees to wait for ... +


At a penal colony in French Guiana, Verne, an incorrigible prisoner, makes an escape attempt but is turned in by Julie, a prostitute whom he accosts. Verne blackmails his way into another escape party led by Moll, a brutal killer who beats Verne in his sleep and leaves him behind. Cambreau, a benevolent, mysterious stranger who has recently appeared at the prison, leaves Verne a map of the escape route, however, and he follows, stopping en route to rescue Julie, who has been evicted from the colony and is being held at the mercy of Marfeu, her cruel captor. Julie and Verne join the escape party, which consists of Telez, a religious hypocrite; Hessler, a cynical bluebeard; Flaubert, a repulsive paranoiac; Dufond, a cowardly young man; Moll; and Cambreau, whose inexplicable foresight and wisdom saves the party again and again. As the convicts cross the jungle and leave the island in a boat, many of the party die, but are led to spiritual redemption by Cambreau at the moment of death. Only Verne, Julie, Hessler and Cambreau reach the mainland. Hessler, the only unrepentant convict, leaves the group while Julie, who has fallen in love with Verne, agrees to leave with the villainous M'sieu Pig, who covets her, to prevent him from reporting Verne. About to kill Cambreau to prevent him from talking, Verne realizes that Cambreau is God and repents, turning himself in. Julie, her sacrifice no longer necessary, agrees to wait for him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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