ISLAND OF LOST MEN
(director: Kurt Neumann; screenwriters: Horace McCoy/William R. Lipman/based on a play by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler; cinematographer: Karl Struss/Charles Lang; editor: Ellsworth Hoagland; music: Frank Loesser/ Frederick Hollander; cast: Anna May Wong (Kim ‘China’ Ling), J. Carrol Naish (Gregory Prin), Eric Blore (Herbert), Ernest Truex (Frobenius), Anthony Quinn (Chang Tai), Broderick Crawford (Tex Ballister), William Haade (Hambly), Rudolf Forster (Prof. Sen), Philip Ahn (Sam Ring), Richard Loo (Gen. Ahn Ling); Runtime: 63; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Eugene J. Zukor; Paramount Pictures; 1939-B/W)
“A diverting character driven action programmer remake of White Woman.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A diverting character driven action programmer remake of White Woman (1933) directed by Kurt Neumann (“Counterplot “/”Watusi”). It’s based on a play by Norman Reilly Raine and Frank Butler. Writers Horace McCoy and William R. Lipman don’t worry about the lame plot, instead wisely leave it in the hands of a very funny Eric Blore and a very enjoyable bossy, snarling, and grossly egotistical villain played by J. Carrol Naish.
The Chinese cabaret-singer Kim Ling (Anna May Wong) is the distraught daughter of a Chinese general, who has been falsely accused of absconding with government funds and disappearing. Desperate to locate her father and clear his name, Kim searches for him throughout the Orient by performing as a singer in clubs. At a Singapore bar, she attracts the attention of the half-caste vulgarian slave-labor despot Gregory Prin (J. Carrol Naish). He runs in the Malaysian jungle an empire that exploits the natives and keeps on a number of men who have run from the law but are allowed to stay on his island if they work for free and obey him. Kim believes dad is on this island and when she tells Prin she’s running from the law, he brings her to the island.
On the jungle island, Kim meets the white men who are forced to work for the brutal tyrant and who in turn force the natives to work for him.
One of the men working is Chang Tai (Anthony Quinn), who is really a Chinese government undercover agent looking for her father and the huge sum of money stolen.
Prin agrees to work with the blackmailing rowdy American Tex Ballister (Broderick Crawford), after he informs him of Chang Tai’s true identity. But after hearing that the police are on their way, Prin gives Kim and Chang Tai a lightly fueled boat to escape but plans on catching up to them after the police leave and executing them.
Meanwhile, unknown to Prin, Chang Tai has found her father, who was hidden upriver by Prin and Kim has located the stolen money.
It leads to a happy ending for the good guys (Kim, the General and Chang Tai).
REVIEWED ON 4/25/2020 GRADE: B