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  • This sounds good, or at least "fun." Jeff Chandler's lured by a beautiful blonde to dive for treasure in a movie called "Smuggler's Island." One imagines scenes of a sun-bronzed Chandler venturing into the atoll of a Pacific lagoon to snatch some fabulous pearl guarded by a hungry shark.

    Alas, the reality is much drabber. The action takes place in and around Macao but the look is definitely "Universal back-lot" and Chandler's brief and unexciting dive is done not with scuba gear but rather in one of those bulky, cumbersome diving suits. Thus Chandler doesn't even get to display any "beefcake," though he manages to keep unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt. This shows a bit of chest-hair which was shaved off for his next movie, "Iron Man," in which he played a boxer.

    Evelyn Keyes doesn't have much leading-lady allure and one finds it hard to believe Chandler would "fall" for her so quickly. None of the film's villains has the necessary "style" and the climactic chase to Hong Kong lacks tension. In fact, there's not a single thrill in the entire movie.

    The result is a lifeless movie peopled by dull characters involved in a plot which holds little interest. No one has his or her heart in this project and, oh, does it show.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SMUGGLER'S ISLAND 1951

    Macao, The Monte Carlo of the orient. Home to crooks, gunrunners, smugglers and gamblers. And for some unexplained reason, Jeff Chandler as an ex-navy diver. Work is so slow he finds himself in debt to one of the a-fore mentioned smugglers. His boat and equipment are being held in lieu of payment.

    Enter Evelyn Keyes with a proposition. She well pay off Chandler's debt and in return he will help her recover the cargo of a crashed cargo plane. He agrees and off they go to find said aircraft. A quick dive and up Chandler comes with a rather heavy box marked drugs. Drugs it is not, but 200,000 in gold bars.

    Chandler is less than amused since he knows the trouble this well cause. Keyes turns on the charm and offers an equal split if he helps smuggle it to Hong Kong. Of course that would be too simple and several unforeseen problems arise. Keyes' cad of a husband shows up and wants in on the deal. Then the local pirate chief sends men to hi-jack them, and the police likewise put in an appearance. Chandler tells Keyes it is the gold, or him, and blows up the ship sending the gold to the bottom again. What a mish-mash! It could have been a decent south seas action adventure.

    The director, Edward Ludwig, was best known for helming a trio of John Wayne films, WAKE OF THE RED WITCH, THE FIGHTING SEE-BEES and BIG JIM MCLAIN. The d of p was Maury Gertsman.

    Poor work from everyone involved.
  • JohnHowardReid30 October 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Aside from one sequence in which the camera suddenly glides into a close close-up of Marvin Miller's eyes and then cuts to Jeff Chandler's, this a very routinely directed, routinely scripted and routinely played adventure yarn. True, it's very attractively photographed with lots of Technicolor's blackest blacks. Production values are good too, with lots of extras milling around the Universal backlot giving at least some of the scenes lots of local color. And there's just enough action to satisfy the action fans, just enough romance to satisfy Mr Chandler's female followers, and just enough footage (6,785 feet = 75 minutes) not to tire our interest.

    Philip Friend plays the heavy somewhat blandly, while Evelyn Keyes has little to do but model the wardrobe designer's dresses decoratively, while occasionally looking worried or apprehensive. Marvin Miller is only occasionally effective in his couple of scenes as a pirate. The rest of the cast led by David Wolfe and Jay Novello is strictly TV.

    Considering the film's comparatively short length and obvious double bill status, production values are surprisingly expansive with lots of extras, big sets, three-strip Technicolor, a double explosive climax and a bit (not too much, thank goodness) of underwater filming.