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Cargo to Capetown (1950)

The plot involves Ireland, captain of a tired oil tanker, and Crawford, the ship's engineer. The pair soon find themselves at odds over their mutual affection for Drew (who happens to be Crawford's fiancee).


Earl McEvoy


Lionel Houser (written)


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Cast overview:
Broderick Crawford ... Johnny Phelan
Ellen Drew ... Kitty Mellar
John Ireland ... Steve Conway
Edgar Buchanan ... Sam Bennett
Ted de Corsia ... Rhys
Robert Espinoza Robert Espinoza ... Rik
Leonard Strong ... Singh


The plot involves Ireland, captain of a tired oil tanker, and Crawford, the ship's engineer. The pair soon find themselves at odds over their mutual affection for Drew (who happens to be Crawford's fiancee).

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The lusty stars of ALL THE KING'S MEN! See more »


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Release Date:

1 April 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ladung für Kapstadt See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The melody that Captain Steve Conway (John Ireland) often hums, whistles or plays on his concertina is called The Girl I Left Behind Me, an evident allusion to a past relationship with the fiancé of his buddy, Johnny Phelan (Broderick Crawford). See more »


In the storm scene in which Rich's leg is crushed, the oil drums rolling around the deck are obviously empty. Full oil drums would have either not tipped over at all or would have rolled more slowly and ponderously. See more »

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User Reviews

Prelude To The Exxon Valdez
3 January 2008 | by lotus07See all my reviews

SYNOPSIS: A tramp steamer outruns a typhoon to Capetown, South Africa, with a disgruntled crew and a love triangle between the Captain, the Chief Engineer and his fiancé.

CONCEPT IN RELATION TO THE VIEWER: Second chances and re-thinking past mistakes. Macho defeats love in the short-term, but compassion triumphs in the end. A trip back to simpler times when everything was black and white, literally.

PROS AND CONS: This film was supposedly made as a follow up to "All The King's Men", which also starred Crawford and Ireland. "All The King's Men" got a lot of Oscar buzz, so the studios thought they could make lightening strike twice. They sort of missed the mark. This is a competent film, but can hardly be considered great film making.

This film rehashes the tried and true cinema gimmick of trapping adults in a confined space so they must face their past and confront the present. There is a bit of a fantasy element in the concept of a world in which tramp steamers were the semi-trucks of their day, ferrying oil and cargo across the ocean highways of the world. Crewed by men with checkered pasts who lived a nomadic lifestyle. It probably isn't very accurately portrayed in this film, but it does make you wonder.

The camera tends to linger on Ellen Drew's character a lot and she is working her "Betty Davis Eyes" as much as possible. The script and plot lines of the film seem a bit strained from time to time. The roots of the past love affair between the captain and the fiancé are never explained. The small boy that longs to go to sea only to be crushed by oil cans in the storm doesn't really make a lot of sense and his acting is terrible.

This is not a very deep film. The basic concept is how folks forced together on a ship in the middle of the ocean have to work as a team and overcome their past differences. Nothing more, nothing less.

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