Reap the Wild Wind is a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post. It was the basis for the 1942 film directed by Cecil B. DeMille, his second to be filmed in color. The film, released shortly after the start of World War II was a swashbuckling adventure set in the 1840’s along the Florida coast. It was wildly successful, and proved to be just the ticket to take the minds of the American movie-going public off of the war for two hours.
While he based his film on Strabel’s story, DeMille took liberties with details such as sibling relationships and sub-plots, while staying true to the spirit of the story, which centers on a headstrong, independent woman, played by Paulette Goddard.
As the film opens Loxi Claiborne is running a salvage business started by her deceased father. A hurricane is just passing through the Key West area, leaving behind at least one wreck on the nearby shoals. “The Jubilee” founders and Loxi and other salvagers race to claim the cargo. Not arriving first, Loxi and her crew rescue the captain, Jack Stuart, but do not share in the salvage rights. It appears that the first salvager on the scene, King Cutler, may have actually planned the wreck.