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Trade Winds (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trade Winds
Directed byTay Garnett
Screenplay byDorothy Parker
Alan Campbell
Frank R. Adams
Story byTay Garnett
Produced byTay Garrett
Walter Wanger (executive)
StarringFredric March
Joan Bennett
CinematographyRudolph Mate
Foreign exterior photography James B. Shackelford
Edited byOtho Lovering
Dorothy Spencer
Music byMusical director
Alfred Newman
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • December 28, 1938 (1938-12-28)
Running time
93 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$964,404[1]

Trade Winds is a 1938 American comedy murder mystery film directed by Tay Garnett written by Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, and Frank R. Adams, based on the story by Tay Garnett. The film stars Fredric March and Joan Bennett. It was distributed by United Artists, and released on December 28, 1938.

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Socialite Kay Kerrigan is accused of fatally shooting millionaire cad Thomas Bruhme II. Kay blames the callous Bruhme for her sister's suicide but when he is confronted, he dismissively throws Kay a gun, but she angrily shoots him in the stomach.

Police detectives Ben "Homer" Blodget and George Faulkner find the body, with a gunshot in the back of Bruhme's head that is the fatal shot. After finding her handbag at the murder scene, the police are on Kay's trail. First she fakes a car accident, driving into the San Francisco Bay, then makes arrangements to go to Hawaii. When she pawns a unique piece of jewelry, Police Commissioner Blackton knows that Kay is alive and puts former detective Sam Wye on the case.

Kay with her hair dyed brown, and travelling on a British passport as "Mary Holden" has taken a ship to the South Seas. She is followed by Sam and his secretary Jean Livingstone, an old flame who also wants to collect a $100,000 reward now being offered by Bruhme's father.

On a boat sailing to Singapore, Sam finally meets Kay, and immediately falls in love with her. Along the way, Homer and Jean do the same. Sam eventually determines that the actual killer was John Johnson, a jealous husband whose wife was having an affair with Bruhme. Kay is thus cleared and free to marry Sam.



Principal photography on Trade Winds took place from August 22 to October 20, 1938.[2] The film was a "labor of love" for Tay Garnett. Frank Nugent described the process in his review for The New York Times: "Tay Garnett earned the distinction yesterday of being probably the first man in history with the temerity to invite 80,000,000 persons to pay to see the movies he took on a world cruise. Mr. Garnett went abroad a few seasons ago and, having a rough outline of a script, he shot doorways in Japan, barrooms in Indo-China, the race track at Singapore, a pier in Bombay, a fishing village in the Laccadives, a twisting street in pre-war Shanghai. Hollywood bridged the gaps, set up the process screen, placed Fredric March and Joan Bennett before it..."[3]

Critical response

Frank Nugent in his contemporary review ofTrade Winds for The New York Times, said: "'Trade Winds', which blew gently into the Music Hall yesterday and may be remembered by posterity as the process shot that went 'round the world. It is not exactly a travelogue. As a mystery film it's a bit on the porous side. We hesitate to call it a romantic comedy, beginning as it does with a suicide, adding a murder and ending with a third body on the floor. And certainly it's not a straight drama. Maybe a new word is in order – a travestery comiromance, or a dramalogue of travesty."[3] [N 1]

Variety said: "All the elements that provide broad entertainment are present in this picture and it should reap healthy grosses. Story and adaptation are sound, production is handsome, direction is forceful and the acting is persuasive."[4]

Kine Weekly wrote: "Yarn is essentially a melodrama-romance built on the time-tested formula of the beauteous fugitive-from-justice and the demon hawkshaw who's sent to bring her back alive. ... It's all frankly hoke, but surefire stuff for mass emotional appeal, since it has colorful and sympathetic characters"[5]

Leslie Halliwell opined: "Smartly written mixture of comedy, drama, mystery and travelogue which comes off only in spots; it needed a firmer hand "[6]

The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film 2/5 stars, writing: "Director Tay Garnett justified a tax-deductible sailing trip around the world by taking a cinematographer to record the sights and writing a story en route. The footage provided the backdrop for this lightweight tale of detective Fredric March's pursuit of high-class murder suspect Joan Bennett. The stars never had to leave the studio, as the film used a record amount of back projection. Predictably, this contributed to an air of tedium."[7]



  1. ^ Trade Winds earned a profit of $71,129.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Bernstein 2000, p. 439.
  2. ^ "Original film information: 'Trade Winds' (1938)." TCM, 2019. Retrieved: August 1, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Nugent, Frank S. "The screen; Tay Garnett's 'Trade Winds' brings a world cruise to the Music Hall." The New York Times, January 13, 1939.
  4. ^ "Trade Winds". Variety. 13 (2): 14. 21 September 1938.
  5. ^ "Trade Winds". Kine Weekly. 236 (1656): 21. 12 January 1939.
  6. ^ Halliwell, Leslie (1989). Halliwell's Film Guide (7th ed.). London: Paladin. p. 1046. ISBN 0-586-08894-6.
  7. ^ Radio Times Guide to Films (18th ed.). London: Immediate Media Company. 2017. p. 954. ISBN 9780992936440.


  • Bernstein, Matthew. Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent. Minneapolis, Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-52008-127-7.

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This page was last edited on 14 January 2024, at 21:40
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