Adapted from S. Fowler Wright's 1928 novel, Deluge tells the story of earthquakes and floods that destroyed America, wiping out cities and most of civilization. While Wright's book takes place in England, the film moves the story to America where first the West Coast is destroyed, then New Orleans and Chicago, and finally an earthquake and flood take down the New York skyscrapers.
Attorney Martin Webster (Sidney Blackmer) lives outside of New York with his wife Helen (Lois Wilson) and two young children (Ronne Cosby and Marianne Edwards -- both child actors uncredited). when the earthquakes destroy their home, Webster takes his family to a local quarry where he hoped they would be safe. As Webster returns to his home in hopes of salvaging food and clothing, the entire area is devastated. Webster survives but fear his family is dead.
Claire Arlington (Peggy Shannon) is a long distance swimmer who is also caught up in the deluge. She is swept to an island where the only survivors are two men, the brutish Jepson (Fred Kohler) and the weak Norwood (Ralf Harolde). Jepson claims ownership of Claire and murders Norwood, only to find that Claire has escaped and is swimming to freedom. Clare ends up washed onto a beach near where Webster has made a comfortable camp and has stored salvaged supplies in a nearby tunnel. Webster finds Claire and brings her to shelter. In the meantime Jepson has arrived on the beach in search of Claire. Jepson joins a group of thugs led by Bellamy (Philo McCullough); the Bellamy gang had been kicked out of a nearby town where other survivors are trying to rebuild civilization.
Throwing a spanner in the works, we learn that Helen and her two children have survived and are living in the town. She has been befriended by a town leader, Tom (Matt Moore), who has fallen in love with her. Helen is still holding on to the scant hope that Webster had somehow survived and is resisting Tom's ever-so-polite advances.
Webster, in the meantime, has fallen in love with Claire only because of his sureness that Helen and his children have died. Claire falls in love with Webster and they "marry." Alas and alack, Jepson discovers Webster and Claire and kidnaps Claire. Webster, in turn, kidnaps her back. Jepson and the Bellamy gang go after the two of them, who have hidden in the tunnel. At the same time, the townspeople come across a ravaged body of a young girl who had been raped and killed by the Bellamy gang. The townspeople decide they must eliminate the gang once and for all. They track the gang to the tunnel where there is a shootout between Webster and Claire and Jepson and the gang. The gang is killed and Tom, with the townspeople, take Webster and Claire to the town. There Webster sees his children and learns that his wife is alive. (Tough luck, Tom.) Tom, being a wuss, is in love with both Helen and Claire, and is trying to find a way to have his cake and eat it too. What will he decide? What will Helen decide? What will Claire decide? And can civilization be rebuilt?
Directed by Felix Feist and scripted by John Goodrich and Warren Duff, this pre-Code apocalyptic film has some nifty special effects for the time and has a brute sexuality buried within it. Thought lost for years, the film has reemerged and is worth 70 minutes of your time.