(director: Phil Rosen; screenwriter: story by George Wallace Sayre/George Wallace Sayre; cinematographer: Mack Stengler; editor: Carl Pierson; cast: Inez Cooper (Nona Butler), Edward Norris (Lt. Allan Scott, USN), Montagu Love (Jim Butler), Robert Armstrong (Pieter Van Bronk), Henry Guttman (Lt. Kurt Heinmann), Ernie Adams (Harry Adams), Satini Puailoa (Chief), John Roth (Taro); Runtime: 59; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lindsley Parsons; Monogram Pictures; 1943)

“Tells of a paradise South Seas island whose peace is shattered by WWII.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Phil Rosen (“The Phantom in the House”/”Army Wives”/”Call of the Jungle”) tells of a paradise South Seas island whose peace is shattered by WWII. It’s a low-budget B film that looks like a modest studio-bound film, and never is more than a slightly entertaining propaganda piece. George Wallace Sayre turns in the screenplay from his story.

It has Montague Love, in his last film role, playing the American WW I veteran Jim Butler. Depressed after his wife died in NYC, Jim goes with second-banana army mate Harry Adams (Ernie Adams) and his 5-year-old daughter Nona to Sunday Island, a tiny island he bought from the friendly chief (Satini Puailoa) for peanuts. He’s been there leading a lazy life and playing God to the natives for 15 years, while Nona (Inez Cooper) has grown up to be quite a native knockout. But soon there’s trouble in paradise with the onset of the war. A dogfight over the island between an American plane piloted by nice guy Navy officer Lt. Allan Scott (Edward Norris) and an arrogant Nazi pilot from the Luftwaffe, Lt. Kurt Heinmann (Henry Guttman), results in the German bailing out and the American making a crash landing. Jim wants to remain neutral, and is concerned that either pilot shouldn’t find out there’s oil reserves on the island. He doesn’t want paradise spoiled by the war, as the island would then be turned into an air base. But both pilots find out, and the German is aided by the frequent visitor to the island, the Hollander trader named Pieter Van Bronck (Robert Armstrong), who hides behind his friendly gestures that he’s secretly a Nazi spy. While Allan romances Nona and tries talking her dad into joining the war effort for the good guys, matters get decided when the German spy kills one of the chief’s son, Taro (John Roth), who spotted him with the German pilot trying to send a radio signal to the Japanese. It’s now the natives and the good white guys against the Germans, as some clumsy adventure scenes get played out before word gets out to the Americans by radio and they arrive to open a base with Jim’s approval. Allan gets to give Nona his wings, which means they’re engaged.

The film is only excusable because it was shot during the opening stages of the war, and the heavy-handed propaganda was probably unavoidable in such a modest programmer.

Wings Over the Pacific Poster