If what you are looking for is a standard film story about a painter, look elsewhere. This is a strange story and a strange movie. But don't take that as criticism. I found it very compelling.
They say that the story was about Gauguin...and if so, then I can't say he was a very admirable fellow. Here "he's" Charles Strickland, a middle-aged businessman who abandons his wife and children so he can paint in Paris. His tale is told through the eyes of Herbert Marshall. Could there be a worse human being than George Sanders as Charles Strickland. Virtually no redeeming qualities...at least until he gets married to a girl in the South Pacific. Of course, life always pays one back, and Strickland declines into leprosy.
The cast here is intriguing. This is one of the best -- though not likable -- performances given by George Sanders. Herbert Marshall is perfect as the eyes of the story (watch for scenes where he is walking...you can notice a limp due his real artificial leg). Elena Verdugo is interesting as the South Seas girl...you may remember her best from her recurring role in "Marcus Welby, M.D." Florence Bates (usually the nagging mother-in-law type) has, perhaps, the most unusual role of her career. Albert Bassermann, as the South Seas doctor, is interesting, though I'm not sure he was any great actor. But his career story is something worth looking up on Wikipedia.
I guess we should thank the George Eastman House for restoring this film, although I'm not sure if the nitrate copies were so badly decomposed to explain the relatively poor quality of the print (as shown on TCM), or whether they just did a poor job of restoration. The images are not crisp, and the color scenes in Tahiti are terribly deteriorated.
Nevertheless, this is a film to watch. It's unusual and intriguing.
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