White Shadows in the South Seas (1928)

Passed   |    |  Drama, Romance

White Shadows in the South Seas (1928) Poster

An alcoholic doctor on a Polynesian island, disgusted by white exploitation of the natives, finds himself marooned on a pristinely beautiful island.


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4 March 2009 | ksf-2
| part exotic south sea adventure, part documentary
The very first "sound track" film from MGM..sound effects track added by Doug Shearer, who did the sound recording on about 90% of all the old black & whites. Caption cards are still used throughout the film for the dialogue. Was also actually filmed in Tahiti, which would have been pretty rare for those times. Monte Blue ( plays Doctor Lloyd ) and Robert Anderson (the trader) had been in silent films for years, but this was Raquel Torres' ("Fayaway") first role. In our story, when pearls are discovered in the waters of the south seas, the white men move in to take advantage. The natives are up against the caucasian traders, the critters of the sea, storms, and sickness when it comes to their shores. The story is quite simple, but the outdoor and underwater photography are the high points here. Even with a respectable restoration, different scenes appear in various colors, and the lighting and sound have become slightly spotty. Interesting scenes at the feast, where prior to cooking, the fish is carefully sewn up in leaves to keep it from burning. Where others have despaired over the "documentary" feel to the film, I felt that this was one of the strengths. (Although some of those costumes and dances DO look pretty hokey.) Lloyd lives with the natives, and must decide what his long term goal is, and how to reach it. Several scenes have been sped up, which may have been an effort by "someone" to move the plot along more quickly. Directed by WS Van Dyke, produced by Thalberg and Stromberg, all pretty big cheeses in the industry at the time.

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