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ISLE OF MISSING MEN (director/writer: Richard Oswald; screenwriter: based on the play “White Lady” by Gina Kaus & Ladislaus Fodor/Robert Chapin/Edward Eliscu; cinematographer: Paul Ivano; editor: Jack Dennis; music: Edward Kay; cast: John Howard (Governor Merrill Hammond), Gilbert Roland (Dan Curtis), Helen Gilbert (Diana Bryce), Alan Mowbray (Dr. Brown ), Ernie Adams (Captain Sanchez), Kenneth Duncan (Henderson), Bradley Page (Lt. Governor Kent), Kitty O’Neill (Pauline, nurse), Egon Brecher (Richard Heller), Alex Havier (Sani), George Chandler (Steward); Runtime: 68; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard Oswald; United Artists; 1942)
“Drowns in a story that can’t manage to pass a sobriety test.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Monogram cheapie adventure pic insults the viewer’s intelligence with its cloying story of a British island penal colony governor’s misconduct over a fantasized love. Director Richard Oswald (“The Living Dead”/”The Lovable Cheat”) can’t escape from the bad script by Robert Chapin and Edward Eliscu, as everything seems artificial and contrived. It’s based on the play “White Lady” by Gina Kaus & Ladislaus Fodor. A ‘white lady’ turns out to be the femme fatale’s favorite cocktail.

The S. S. Bombay is a steamer Australia-bound. It makes a stop at the desolate Pacific penal island of Caruba, as its fair-minded widowed governor Merrill Hammond (John Howard) and the beautiful Diana Bryce exit on the isle after their ship is bombed by a Japanese plane. International traveler Diana, agrees to stay a week on the primitive and typhus ridden isle before leaving to visit her brother in Melbourne. The island residents of note, besides the prisoners, include the rigid deputy head George Kent (Bradley Page), the world-weary alcoholic prison doctor, Doc Brown (Alan Mowbray), the saintly obese nurse Pauline (Kitty O’Neill) and the secretary administrator Henderson (Kenneth Duncan).

What Hammond is unaware of, is that Diana is married to the snaky convict Dan Curtis (Gilbert Roland), serving eight more years for murder, and she plans on helping him escape. How the escape is carried out lacks credibility, and the pic, despite a fine cast for a Monogram production, drowns in a story that can’t manage to pass a sobriety test.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”