(director: Arthur Lubin; screenwriters: story by Ben Ames Williams/W. Scott Darling/Sid Sutherland/Ben G. Kohn; cinematographer: Gus Peterson; editor: Charles Craft; music: Charles Previn; cast: John Wayne (Duke Slade), Diana Gibson (Janet Drew), Montagu Love (Capt. Abner Drew), Moroni Olsen (Rand Husk), George Cleveland (Tom), Paul White (Kalo), Maurice Black (Blackie); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Trem Carr; Universal Pictures; 1937)

An early John Wayne adventure film that’s so bad it’s good.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Arthur Lubin(“White Savage”/”Escapade in Japan”/”Francis in the Navy”) directs an early John Wayne adventure film that’s so bad it’s good. It’s based on a story by Ben Ames Williams and is written by W. Scott Darling, Sid Sutherland and Ben G. Kohn.

After freelance pearl diver Duke Slade (John Wayne) saves the South Seas island 12-year-old Kalo (Paul White) from a shark attack, they bond as loyal companions.

While diving for pearls in a grotto, irate natives chase Duke away. He escapes to sneak on a whaling vessel, the Mary Drew, and gives Janet (Diana Gibson ) the pearls to hold for him in the ship safe. She’s the daughter of the dying Captain Abner Drew (Montagu Love). He approves of Duke and gives him his blessing to marry his reluctant daughter, who is in love with the elderly first mate Rand Husk (Moroni Olsen). After their marriage, Abner dies. The ship then heads back to port in Massachusetts with a cargo of whale oil.

The crew hate Duke. But relent when Kalo tells them that Duke knows where to find a valuable bed of pearls, if they stay in the South Seas. Duke and Rand fight over whether Duke was organizing a mutiny. When a whale is spotted, Rand goes in a small boat to harpoon it. Then Seaman Blackie (Maurice Black) organizes a mutiny. Janet convinces Duke to give the sailors his pearls to stop the mutiny and in return she will make him a partner in the whaling vessel.

The adventure continues with a happy ending, as the villain Blackie causes a mutiny and ties Duke to the mast to make him tell the location of the pearl bed. With Kalo’s help, Duke is cut free and teams with Rand to overtake Blackie.Rand is conveniently killed by Blackie, while Kalo dumps Blackie overboard. By this time Janet realizes that she loves Duke and, by golly, it’s all over as Duke becomes a whaler–so much for pearls.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”