Strange Cargo

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ken123
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Strange Cargo

Post by ken123 »

Is a Frank Borzage Directed film that is a classic IMHO. Cardinal Spellmen Of NYC forced the Catholic Legion of Decency to Condemn this film because the good Cardinal objected to the way the the Christ - like figured was portrayed by Ian Hunter. By receiving a " condemned " rating Catholic were forbidden to see under the pain of Mortal Sin. I would like to the members to share their opinions on Borzage, The Legion, Hunter, or the film. :wink:
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Post by feaito »

Frank Borzage is one of my favorite directors and "Strange Cargo" is one the most unique, allegorical films I've seen from the Classic American Era. It's quite offbeat by 1940s standards. I think it needs many viewings to fully aprehend its multiple subtexts.
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Sue Sue Applegate
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Strange Cargo

Post by Sue Sue Applegate »

I've never seen this film, and you fellows convinced me I need to see it.
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dfordoom
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Re: Strange Cargo

Post by dfordoom »

ken123 wrote: would like to the members to share their opinions on Borzage, The Legion, Hunter, or the film. :wink:
I thought the movie was terribly heavy-handed, and (considering its stellar cast) surprisingly dull.
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Garbomaniac
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Post by Garbomaniac »

Well, I suppose back then portraying Christ in any other way but as Himself was blasphemy. But, by today's standards it was reverent! In fact, it was handled very cleverly, and Hunter did a very good job! In my opinion, portraying Christ in any film as "appearing before man as a mortal in order to lead the way," is commendable. I thought it was a good film, but I do agree it was a little plodding and weighty. The concept was good, the cast was good, but the direction was "interesting." I suppose he was trying to achieve a certain affect. But, unfortunately, it is not one of my favorite films. I have seen it twice, and I am not sure Iwill see it again.

As an aside, Three Comrades and The Shining Hour were also a little plodding, but excellent movies, IMHO.
nightwalker
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Post by nightwalker »

This film has always been one of my favorite allegorical presentations of Christ in films. Ian Hunter plays Him not unlike I've always imagined Him to be and also as the Bible would appear to portray Him: willing to help and available to be found by those who seek Him (most of the escapees), yet unwilling to force His presence on anyone who doesn't desire it (Paul Lukas).

I've never understood the Legion of Decency's condemnation of the film. I think that, unlike films of a later era, its "heart was in the right place" when it came to its portrayal of Christ.
rainingviolets21
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Strange Cargo

Post by rainingviolets21 »

I remember the first time I watched this film, I was so impressed with Ian Hunters portrayel of Jesus Christ, I subconciously use Ian Hunters personna whenever I think of HIM, to me, JESUS is a strong, masculine being who is pure goodness...
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Moraldo Rubini
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Post by Moraldo Rubini »

I just finished watching Strange Cargo and was really taken by surprise. I had little idea what it was about, but expected something more like China Seas. The tone, the characters, the look and the spiritual parable were all unexpected. It seems such an anomaly from MGM 1940. I'd love to know the backstory: whose idea was it to buy the property?; Did Frank Borzage have any influence in this decision? How was it recieved? It seems it was nominated for nothing -- Oscar-wise. I wonder what audiences thought. It has the ambition of a prestige film, yet I thought MGM's "prestige pictures" were always lofty flicks with lavish locales; not of dark prisons, dank jungles and featuring religious overtones. It seems to foreshadow Dore Schary.

It's a great role for Joan Crawford; and I wonder what she thought of wearing a torn cotton schmata through most of it, her lips bereft of lipstick. Bette Davis loved this kind of thing; but La Crawford?

How unsettling to see Paul Lukas as a serial killer and everyone was so non-chalant about it! Peter Lorre was cringingly slimy. And was I reading between the lines that there was a romance between the prisoners Moll and his sidekick? This is 1940 MGM?!

I'm glad that I bought this one: I look forward to future re-viewings.
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

You are absolutely right, Moraldo! It's astonishing that Mayer left such a film untouched. Or perhaps, he wasn't subtle enough to notice the innuendo...
This is one of the first Borzages I ever saw. At that time, I was absolutely astounded by it. When I watched it again recently, a few aspects disturbed me. Ian Hunter's performance is really something to behold I thought, but, I found Gable a bit trying at times. He plays the part on a single note: the tough-talking guy. Even the amazing scene where he reads Song of Songs to Crawford lost a bit its edge for me as I found his delivery quite monocord.... (Perhaps I have been listening to too many euphonious English actors recently.... :lol: )

But it is certainly a very interesting Borzage. 8)
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Moraldo Rubini
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Post by Moraldo Rubini »

Ann Harding wrote:...This is one of the first Borzages I ever saw. At that time, I was absolutely astounded by it. When I watched it again recently, a few aspects disturbed me. Ian Hunter's performance is really something to behold I thought, but, I found Gable a bit trying at times. He plays the part on a single note: the tough-talking guy. Even the amazing scene where he reads Song of Songs to Crawford lost a bit its edge for me as I found his delivery quite monocord.... (Perhaps I have been listening to too many euphonious English actors recently.... :lol: ) ...
You're right, Ann; Gable's performance is a bit of a one-note song. On the other hand, his character is hardly self-actualized. He's an uneducated criminal. I'm not sure his character would be a brilliant elecutionist or be in touch with his emotions enough to express them very well. So maybe it works for Verne. I'll get a better sense with future viewings. (I wonder what the rest of the Oasis denizens think about Gable's performance?)

The best aspect of the surprise of this movie was the delight of discovering a "new" movie. It gives me hope that there are still other "discoveries" from the studio era out there for me. I look forward to wait to finding them!
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