In San Francisco circa 1900, writer Humphrey Van Weyden (Alexander Knox) and fugitive Ruth Brewster (Ida Lupino) are rescued by a schooner after their ferry capsizes. Instead of returning them to shore, sadistic skipper Wolf Larsen (Edward G. Robinson) forces his new passengers to join the crew on an extended seal hunt. Also on-board is George Leach (John Garfield), a wanted man who has eyes for Ruth and who may just be strong enough to challenge Larsen’s tyranny. Just how will this voyage end?
Based on the novel by Jack London, this gritty, suspenseful outing helmed by “Casablanca” director Michael Curtiz is buoyed by Robert Rossen’s intelligent, nuanced script and top-notch performances, particularly from Garfield and Robinson. No one could play malevolent types quite like Eddie G., and here he imbues the bitter Larsen with a touch of melancholy that makes him almost sympathetic. A stunning Lupino also delivers the goods as a decent woman with exceedingly bad luck. Weigh anchor and set sail on “The Sea Wolf.”