When the U.S. forces withdraw from Java, ahead of the Japanese invasion, U.S. Navy doctor Corydon M. Wassell coordinates the remaining wounded servicemen and leads them to safety towards the last Allied evacuation points.
A very, very unusual film...and I'd have a hard time comparing it to anything else!
Some of the events in "Souls at Sea" were inspired by a shipwreck in about 1840. However, despite appearances, it's clearly a highly fictionalized version of history and really doesn't claim to be a true story.
When the story begins, Nuggin (Gary Cooper) and Powdah* (George Raft) are serving aboard a slave ship. Although slavery was still legal in the States, it was illegal to import slaves...and the British navy enforced a blackade of slavers. If they caught them, the men serving aboard the slave ships were prosecuted...so you'd assume that the two men are evil. But you cannot have a film with slavers being the heroes...even back in 1937. Well, it turns out that Nuggin is actually working on his own as an anti-slaver....and he's had a history of scuttling these ships and setting the poor slaves free. As a result, he is made an undercover operative for the British...and his task involves getting to America as soon as possible to set a trap for other slave ships. But Nuggin's arch nemesis (Henry Wilcoxon) is also bound for the States to stop him...and they're aboard the same ship! What's next? Well, a lot!!
Apart from an interesting plot, the film benefits from good acting and some amazing shipwreck scenes....truly spectacular. Overall, a wonderful adventure film that isn't perfect (Raft seemed mostly wasted and in the way during most of the film), but is nevertheless well worth seeing.
* Who thought of these insane names?! Huh!??!
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