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Literature Film Quarterly (1976) - Adrift in Steinbeck's Lifeboat




The survivors are Connie Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), a wealthy and arrogant reporter; Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), a conservative millionaire; Gus (William Bendix), a seaman with an injured leg; Kovac the oiler (John Hodiak), an embittered member of the proletariat whom Connie calls a fellow traveler; Stanley Garrett, a British radio operator (Hume Cronyn); Alice MacKenzie, an American Red Cross nurse (Mary Anderson); Joe (Canada Lee), a Negro steward nicknamed Charcoal; an English woman with her dead baby; and the Nazi (Walter Slezak). Lifeboat is significant in its treatment of such recurring Steinbeck themes as group-man, the nature of leadership, the animality of people hypnotized by mass action, and the stripping away of civilized surfaces to reveal the primitive human.