(director: Allan Dwan; screenwriters: Harold Jacob Smith/ James Leicester/based on the Herman Melville novel Typee; cinematographer: George Stahl; editor: James Leicester; music: Robert Allen/Raúl Lavista; cast: Dana Andrews (Abner Bedford), Jane Powell (Fayaway), Don Dubbins (Tom), Arthur Shiels (Jimmy Dooley), Captain Vangs (Ted de Corsia), Friedrich Ledebur (Mehevi), Augustín Fernández (Kory Kory), Francisco Reiguera (medicine man); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Benedict Bogeaus; Warner Bros. Pictures; 1958)
“A floundering low-budget version of Herman Melville’s 1846 classic Typee, that however looks great in Technicolor.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran filmmaker Allan Dwan (“The River’s”/”Escape to Burma”) helms this listless and miscast (especially music star Jane Powell, in her last starring role in this drama, makes for an unconvincing cannibal native) South Sea island adventure story. It was a box-office flop and critical bomb.It’s a floundering low-budget version of Herman Melville’s 1846 classic Typee, that however looks great in Technicolor. The co-writers of this far from enchanting tale are Harold Jacob Smith & James Leicester.The title song is written by Stillman and Robert Allen and is sung by the Four Lads, and reached the No. 12 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in June of 1958. It was an RKO movie, but when the studio went bankrupt it was released by Warner Bros.
In 1842 an American whaling ship stops for supplies at a Polynesian island seaport. When the stern Captain Vangs (Ted de Corsia) refuses to give the men sea leave because of the cannibal population, the disgruntled sailors Abner (Dana Andrews) and Tom (Don Dubbins) jump ship.
There are two tribes that inhabit the island: one is friendly and the other a cannibal one (Typee). The runaway sailors are met by a fellow white man, Jimmy Dooley (Arthur Shields), who secures a place for them to hide. But the men flee when he turns out to be a traitor, hired by Captain Vargas to find them.
Abner falls for the attractive Fayaway (Jane Powell), the adopted daughter of Chief Mehevi (Friedrich Ledebur),of the Typee. The blue-eyed Fayaway is the daughter of a shipwrecked white Swedish sailor and a native woman.
During tribal war, Tom wishes to flee to civilization but Abner fights with the Typee. When Tom bolts, his eaten body is found on the tral back to the boat. The chief, who gave permission for Abner to marry Faraway, changes his mind and orders the couple’s death. They try to get back to Captain Vargas’ ship, but Faraway fatally takes a spear and the returning Abner carries her lifeless body onto the ship. Thereby the forgiving captain promotes him to first mate.
I was more bored than thrilled. The 49-year-old Andrews looked lost and suffering seemingly from drunken hangovers, and made for a disparaging protagonist.
REVIEWED ON 7/7/2019 GRADE: C