Reap the Wild Wind was a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post. The movie, released shortly after the United States’ entry into World War II, was a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1840s along the Florida coast, was wildly successful and proved itself just the ticket to take the minds of the American movie-going public off the war for two hours.
Cecil B. DeMille’s Technicolor historical spectacle was to have starred Gary Cooper, but Coop’s commitment to Pride of the Yankees compelled DeMille to cast Marion Mitchell Morrison as the leading man.
The film is unusual among films starring John Wayne. Foremost, it is one of relatively few films in which he plays a character with a notable dark side. He had second thoughts about signing on since he was unsure how his fans would react to him being bested by a “foppish” Ray Milland. Additionally, it is also one of only a handful of feature films in which Wayne’s character is dead by the closing credits.
The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography, but took home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects. +