Cast & Crew
When writer John Bradbury reveals that he has come to Florida's Okefenokee Swamp for inspiration, Uncle Gabe, a wise old black man, relates the following story: Years before, alligator hunter Nubie Blair, his son "Gator Bait," so called because he loves to lure alligators into his father's nets by jumping into the swamp, and daughter Judie enjoy their simple, rural life. Rufe Owens and his son Jeff also hunt the swamp, but unlike Blair, Owens sends his son to school and has high hopes for his future. The two fathers continually pit the boys against each other, and Jeff and Gator grow up as intense rivals. Eventually, Jeff leaves Okefenokee to continue his education, while the more athletic Gator remains in the swampland. Years later, Jeff, now a civil engineer, returns to Okefenokee, bursting with plans for roads, hospitals and other improvements. Despite Jeff's genuine concern for their well-being, the local residents, including Blair, Gator and Owens, are suspicious of his ideas. Only Judie, who has grown into an attractive young woman, appreciates Jeff's efforts. Gator's animosity toward Jeff increases when he realizes that Patricia Wayburn, the sophisticated owner of the tourist camp where he works as a guide, was once involved with the engineer. Pat, who enjoys a flirtatious relationship with Gator, immediately expresses a desire to resume her romance with Jeff, but he rebuffs her. Later, Jeff presents his plans at a meeting and is soundly rejected by the townspeople, who fear that his proposed "improvements" will result in the destruction of their simple lifestyle. Calling Jeff "uppity," Gator then hurls his surveying equipment into the river, and the engineer is carried bodily to the edge of town. That night, Judie swims to retrieve Jeff's equipment from the river bottom. Knowing how much Judie fears alligators, Jeff is deeply touched by her help and gives her a passionate kiss. The next day, Jeff confers with his boss, Sprague, about the town's resistance, and Sprague warns Blair and Lige that if they try to stop Jeff again, he will call in the state police. Jeff then hosts a dance, hoping to alleviate some of the tension in the town, but Gator uses the situation to provoke a fight with his rival. When Gator pulls a knife on Jeff during the fight, Blair rushes in to stop him and insists that he apologize to Jeff. Gator does apologize and agrees to act as Jeff's swamp guide the next morning, but as soon as he gets Jeff alone in the swamp, he tries to strangle him with a loose vine. After a fierce struggle, Jeff knocks Gator out and saves him from an attacking alligator. Jess drags the still unconscious Gator back to shore and lies to Blair, telling him that his son slipped and hit his head. Despite Jeff's forgiving gesture, Gator, Blair and Lige lead an armed attack on Jeff's road construction crew and force him to stop work. Later, Jeff criticizes Pat for teasing the impressionable Gator, but she insists that her feelings for the swampman are genuine. After blessing his budding romance with Judie, Pat gives Jeff a farewell kiss, unaware that Gator is watching her from a distance. Misunderstanding the kiss, a jealous Gator throws Pat into the river and later vows to kill Jeff. Judie hears Gator's threat and runs to Owens for help. The unsuspecting Jeff, meanwhile, is out on the swamp marking trees for felling, when Gator fires at him. Gator misses and eventually falls into some quicksand. Once again Jeff saves Gator's life and, when a frantic Judie and Owens arrive on the scene, he once again protects Gator with a lie. His anger spent, Gator finally admits that he was wrong, and the two men shake hands.
E. G. Marshall
Daniel D. Doran
Paul Gerard Smith
The working title of this film was The Outlander. Ewing Scott's screen story was titled "Gaitor Bait." According to the Hollywood Reporter review, Scott tried to sell his story in Hollywood for "several years" before obtaining backing from the Danches brothers. Prior to their involvement with Scott, the Danches brothers, Abe, Ralph and George, ran a wholesale produce business in Cleveland and during World War II specialized in dehydrated and powdered eggs. Some of the above character names, which were taken from a copyright cutting continuity, are listed differently in reviews. The family name "Blair" is listed as "Kirk" in reviews and "Owens" is listed as "Owen." In reviews, Owens' and Blair's first names are listed as "Crane" and "Sam," respectively, not "Rufe" and "Nubie." According to a November 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, the picture was made on location in Florida, in the southern section of the Okefenokee Swamp. In September 1951, Variety reported that George Danches of Danches Productions filed a breach of contract lawsuit against Eagle Lion and Pathé Industries, the parent distribution companies, demanding $250,000 in damages. Danches claimed that the defendants made improper deductions and failed to use "the best efforts" to distribute the picture. The disposition of the lawsuit is not known.