Strange Cargo is an unusual Christian allegory dressed as a hard-boiled prison picture, this is not as odd as it sounds, and quite effective, with terrific performances from Clark Gable, Ian Hunter, and Joan Crawford. Gable is imprisoned on Devil’s Island. He meets saloon girl Crawford on one of his escapes, but is returned to the prison where he joins Albert Dekker, Paul Lukas, J. Edward Bromberg, the filthy Peter Lorre, and the strangely inspirational Hunter.
When Hunter organizes an escape, Gable joins in and convinces Crawford to escape her life as well. As the men face various deaths, Hunter is able to comfort even the most hardened criminal and bring them peace. Gable faces off with Hunter and learns to accept his fate.
Strange Cargo was the last of nine pairings of Clark Gable and Joan Crawford. Studio heads at MGM thought that Gable should be positioned as a natural actor in future films and that he shouldn’t be paired with studio-made stars like Crawford.
USA / MGM / 105 minutes / 1940
Director: Frank Borzage
Screenplay: Lawrence Hazard, Lesser Samuels
Joan Crawford as Julie
Clark Gable as Verne
Ian Hunter as Cambreau
Peter Lorre as M’sieu Pig
Paul Lukas as Hessler
Albert Dekker as Moll
J. Edward Bromberg as Flaubert
Eduardo Ciannelli as Telez
John Arledge as Dufond
Frederick Worlock as Grideau
Bernard Nedell as Marfeu
Victor Varconi as Fisherman
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