MONSOON (ISLE OF FORGOTTEN SINS)
(director/writer: Edgar G. Ulmer; screenwriters: Raymond L. Schrock/based on a story by Edgar G. Ulmer; cinematographer: Ira Morgan; editor: Charles Henkel Jr.; music: Leo Erdody; cast: John Carradine (Mike Clancy), Gale Sondergaard (Marge Willison), Sidney Toler (Capt. Carruthers), Frank Fenton (Jack Burke), Veda Ann Borg (Luana), Rita Quigley (Diane), Rick Vallin (Johnny Pacific); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Peter R. Van Duinen; Producers Releasing Corporation; 1943)
“There were great underwater sea diving shots and the catastrophic storm was convincing, proving what an excellent craftsman Ulmer could be.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Cult filmmaker Edgar G. Ulmer (“Jive Junction”/”Strange Illusion”/”The Black Cat”) directs and co-scripts with Raymond L. Schrock this low-budget hearty adventure tale set on the South Seas. It’s a rugged two-fisted male-bonding film. The resourceful Ulmer had his film when he discovered in storage at the Goldwyn Studios 200 miniature trees — created for John Ford’s disaster drama The Hurricane (1937) — and the studio agreed to loan him the props. It was released as Isle of Forgotten Sins.
Two scrappy pearl sea divers, Mike Clancy (John Carradine) and Jack Burke (Frank Fenton), meet at a seedy South Seas bar and brothel called the “Isle of Forgotten Sins.” It’s run by the worldly hostess (or madame) Marge Willison (Gale Sondergaard). The two are hunting for a sunken ship with a $3 million cargo of gold that went down during a monsoon. Marge talks them into making her a third partner.
The partners sail to the remote outpost of a rival sailor, Capt. Carruthers (Sidney Toler), who holds the key to the treasure. This brings about a series of intrigues and double-crosses as the rivals attempt to outfox each other and sail away with the gold. Their adventure changes to a battle for survival when a second monsoon comes along and wreaks havoc on the island.
There were great underwater sea diving shots and the catastrophic storm was convincing, proving what an excellent craftsman Ulmer could be. But the adventurers are hardly convincing as rugged sea men and the story is no great shakes. Ulmer, the reputed ‘King of the B’s,’ has said in interviews that he got the idea for Monsoon when he worked with the highbrow German filmmaker F. W. Murnau during the filming of the romantic docudrama Tabu in 1931.
REVIEWED ON 4/26/2007 GRADE: C+