The Sea Wolf (1941) Poster



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  • While sailing out of San Francisco and their ship Martinez is struck by another ship and sinks, writer Humphrey van Weyden (Alexander Knox) and escaped fugitive Ruth Brewster (Ida Lupino) are given refuge aboard the seal-hunting schooner Ghost captained by Wolf Larsen (Edward G. Robinson), a cruel individual who delights in dominating and abusing his equally despicable crew, all of whom are cast in the same mold as their captain. Aided by crewmen George Leach (John Garfield) (also a fugitive) and Johnson (Stanley Ridges), Ruth and van Weyden enter into a plot to get off the Ghost. Edit

  • The Sea Wolf is based on a 1904 novel by American writer Jack London, who revealed that he based the story on Cape Breton (Canada) mariner outlaw Alexander McLean. The novel was adapted for the film by American screenwriter Robert Rossen. Edit

  • In the film, Larsen mentions that he had five brothers, four of whom were lost to the sea, but does not explain why his fifth brother Death Larsen, captain of the Macedonia, was armed with a cannon and searching to take down the Ghost. The novel explains that Wolf Larsen had previously kidnapped several of Death's crew and forced them into servitude to fill his own ranks. Edit

  • According to the novel, Larsen eventually succumbed to a stroke in which the blood flow to the brain is blocked. Larsen was most likely experiencing ministrokes (aka transient ischemic attacks) where the bloodflow to the brain is blocked or reduced by a blood clot that eventually goes away. Edit

  • As Leach rows toward the sinking Ghost, van Weyden and Ruth notice that all of the rowboats are gone, indicating that the crew has abandoned ship. Figuring that there is food and fresh water still aboard, Leach boards the schooner while van Weyden and Ruth remain in the dinghy, waiting for him to lower down provisions to them. As Leach begins stacking up supplies, he is suddenly attacked by Captain Larsen and locked in the storeroom. When Leach doesn't return to the dinghy, Ruth and van Weyden go looking for him. Ruth finds Leach and stays to talk to him outside the storeroom door, while van Weyden tries to get the key from Larsen, who adamantly maintains that Leach is going to go down with the ship along with him. An argument breaks out between them and Larsen, now almost totally blind, shoots van Weyden. Mortally wounded, van Weyden plays his final coup against Larsen. Although dying, van Weyden pretends that Larsen, in his blindness, has missed his shot and offers himself in exchange for Leach's freedom, challenging Larsen's belief that he has finally corrupted van Weyden. In an attempt to prove his mastery, Larsen relinquishes the key to Ruth. Larsen turns towards van Weyden and realizes that he has died of his gunshot and triumphs in the fact that he knew there was a catch to van Weyden's sacrifice. In the final scene, Leach and Ruth sail away from the sinking Ghost and head their dinghy toward the nearby island, looking forward to starting their new lives together. Edit



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