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  • Sweet, docile little Claudette Colbert - firing a machine gun? Anything's possible in the movies!

    Colbert and her husband live on their rubber plantation in Malaysia (back when it was Malaya) with their small son. Her husband is too absorbed in the plantation to notice her very much, and she decides that when it's time to take their son to school in England, she will go with him and never return. But then she is unable to leave when bandits kill one of their neighbours, then tries to kill Colbert, and the whole plantation is set up in a murderous game of cat and mouse.

    You'd like this if you liked Red Dust with Gable and Harlow, the setting is very similar. For an added bonus, some people may remember the cartoon Riki Tiki Tavi, about a mongoose who takes care of a household and keeps the cobras at bay - this is wonderfully reproduced with a real mongoose and cobra in a thrilling scene, very reminiscent of the cartoon, even down to the same room!
  • Kittyman3 March 2010
    "The Planter's Wife" (1952) is the last of an unintended rubber tree plantations' trilogy taking place over twenty years and set in Malaysia. And, if you can see these films in their appropriate order, it is a worthwhile experience.

    "Red Dust" (1932), the first (and best) film, is set in 1932. It stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. Noted for its torrid romance, it also contains much information about rubber production. And, as you might suspect, while conditions were primitive, colonial planters ruled the roost. Noblesse oblige.

    "Malaya" (1949), the second film, is set in 1942. It stars Spencer Tracy and James Stewart as American agents attempting to smuggle rubber out of the occupied peninsula. Now the Japanese are in control, and planters must comply, or die.

    "The Planter's Wife" (1952), the last of the unintended trilogy, is set in 1952. It stars Jack Hawkins and Claudette Colbert as husband and wife planters in colonialism's waning days. It features an extremely well done action climax in which they struggle to defend their home against a sustained assault by indigenous communist insurgents (inexplicably called bandits). While Anthony Steel and Hawkins are both excellent, Colbert is the weak link. Prone to hysterical outbursts, for someone in her supposed position, she lacks the toughness one would expect. Also, the film has been weakened by the insertion of too many stock shots. However, the cobra/mongoose footage, while not matching, is, at least, quite exciting. Finally, despite this film's aforementioned drawbacks, it's still well worth watching and deserves a far better rating (I'd say about a 6.5) than it has currently received.
  • By the time of this 1952 film, "Outpost in Malaya," Claudette Colbert's film career was on the inevitable downward trend that befell older female stars from Hollywood's golden days. If these actresses didn't want to go for the character roles, as Bette Davis did, they were for the most part out. Colbert was asked at some point why she wasn't making films anymore, and she said, "There haven't been any offers." And here's an offer she should have turned down. In this film, she's 49 years old, the mother of a small son and married to 42-year-old Jack Hawkins. The couple lives in Malaya, where Hawkins runs a rubber plantation. At the time, post WW II, Malaya was involved in a civil war. Some Malaysians didn't like the plantation owners, so they were subject to attack. A great deal of the film has scenes of gunfighting, bombings, etc.

    Hawkins works nonstop to harvest the rubber crop and fight insurgents, and his wife feels separated from him and decides to leave when she takes her son back to England for school. Can they salvage their marriage? Okay movie though the beautiful Colbert, who looks great and is well dressed despite the heat and dirt, is miscast, though very good. The rugged Hawkins is very good as well. It's just not much of a movie - the subplot of marriage on the rocks was an attempt to give the film a little depth, but that doesn't really happen. Baby boomers will enjoy watching Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon as the little boy. Remember when his sister dated Paul McCartney? If you're my age, you do.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a rather shocking but amazing adventure set on the plantation of a British rubber manufacturer dealing with terrorism through the bandits who roam the wilderness. Yes, they use the word terrorist, and there's even a little child found with a grenade attached to them! The basic story surrounds the plantation owner (Jack Hawkins) and his wife (Claudette Colbert) whose marriage has been crumbling. She's preparing to take their young son to England to finish his education and possibly never return, even though she was born there. The action surrounds their last day together, a mixture of terror and excitement, seemingly filmed on location to similar looking land.

    I really feel the terror that peace living people must feel every day not knowing if a suicide bomber is nearby. Colbert has several close calls, one that had me nervous in anticipation. Colbert as usual is spot on fantastic, a combination of dignified strength and womanly vulnerability, while Hawkins mixes stubborn determination in with the fortitude of a revolutionary war general determined to save his fort. There's an exciting battle between a mongoose and a cobra, slow moving tank rides in the countryside where suspicions of approaching danger even disguised as a funeral procession are presented rivetingly. If you want to see Colbert living quite a different life rather than her wacky screwball heroines and loving, long suffering mothers, take a look at this along with two war dramas, "So Proudly We Hail" and "Three Came Home".
  • This is a terrific movie about a little known time period. The setting is a rubber plantation in Malaya circa late 1940's, early 1950's. The British owner and his wife defend the plantation against Communist Terrorists. Very good action and tries to tell the actual events in a truthful manner. I highly recommend it!! Wish it were out on DVD. I'd buy it!!
  • This film is set on a Malaysian rubber plantation. And, you can't help but wonder why Claudette Colbert was cast in this film. After all, having an Englishman there made sense--the British were heavily investigated in the country because of the need for rubber. But what's an American lady doing there? Also, my wife felt Ms. Colbert just looked a bit old to have such a young child in the film (she was 49 at the time). I assume they put an American in this role to supposedly improve the marketability of the film.

    The film is set a few years after WWII--during the time when Malaysia was in the midst of a very long civil war. In fact, this is one of the only films I've ever seen that even mentions this period in Malaysian history. While I am no expert on this, I know that some of the Malaysians (particularly those of Chinese descent) resented their treatment and vented much of this on the rubber plantation owners--massacring some families. This film is about a family caught up in this. The husband (Jack Hawkins) is working desperately to hold on to his plantation--and spends just about ever waking minute fighting insurgents and trying to bring in his rubber crop. As for the wife (Colbert), she can't stand that he's so obsessed and he has no time for her or their son. In fact, he doesn't know it but she's contemplating leaving him. Fortunately for Hawkins, he does finally come to his senses and tells Colbert that he loves her and wants her to stay. Unfortunately, it comes only when the insurgents are about to stage a massive attack! And, in the process, the entire family and their workers have to fight for their very lies.

    The film is very tense and interesting. Sadly, however, it really has nothing to say about the uprising. Why the natives are revolting (nice choice of words) is really uncertain to the viewer as they watch the film. As a result, you don't have a lot of insight into the situation but like films like "Zulu", it still is tense and satisfying. For the most part, it's well made and worth a look--even if it's not one of Colbert's better films and lacks depth.
  • manitobaman815 September 2014
    One of the grimmest films ever. Here's a story about a place most people might not be able to conceive: where things are dying, where people survive off liquor, where those who are supposed to love us shove knives into our backs. It will bring you to tears and make you laugh. All characters are unhappy souls, surviving in a grim world. It's an amazing work and everything I had hoped for. From an artistic standpoint, there were some plot elements and character developments I didn't think were totally needed. They do however drive the story, which seemed to be their purpose, so I can accept them. Final rating: 7/10.
  • This film is available (legally) on DVD in Australia in a two-movie pack with another Jack Hawkins film "The Seekers" (a.k.a. "Land of Fury" in the States). You can order it from (for only ten Australian dollars!!!). Is also advertised on in the States from another Australian source.

    "The Seekers" is an important film historically in New Zealand where I live, because it's the first colour feature filmed here and features several prominent indigenous Maori actors including acclaimed opera singer Inia te Wiata who went on to perform at Covent Garden in London.

    Other major international productions filmed or set in New Zealand in this period include "Green Dolphin Street" (director Victor Saville, 1947; starring Lana Turner and Van Heflin) about an Englishman thwarted in love who seeks redemption in exile in New Zealand, which won an Oscar for Best Special Effects for its earthquake scenes; "Until They Sail" (director Robert Wise, 1957; starring Paul Newman, Jean Simmons, Joan Fontaine, Sandra Dee and Piper Laurie) about GIs romancing New Zealand girls during the war; and "Two Loves" (director Charles Walters, 1961; starring Jack Hawkins again, Shirley MacLaine and Laurence Harvey) in which Shirley Maclaine is an idealistic young American immigrant school teacher amongst the impoverished Maoris battling (and in love with) the cynical Harvey and the set-in-his ways school inspector Hawkins. All the Maori roles seem to be played by Asians or Mexicans. This is also the case on "Green Dolphin Street" where all the Maoris seem to be played by Mexicans (apparently that one was filmed on a Hollywood lot).
  • It is interesting to note that until now there is no review from the UK so I will rectify that.This film is set during the Troubles in Malaya which lasted 9 years till the communist insurgents were defeated.Events such as this were also occurring in Africa with the Mau Mau attacks in Kenya.It was a terrible time for all concerned.This film being aimed at Western audiences shows the planters side without trying to explain why the terrorists are attacking and why but then the Americans rarely explained why the Viet Conf were attacking in for example The Green Berets.This film has quite an exciting finale albeit slightly implausible.Sadly there is one minus.It is the complete miscasting of the delightful actress Claudette Gilbert.The part should have been played by someone such as Margaret Lockwood.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Good movie. But how child rearing has changed! In Outpost in Malaya, a young boy sees his mother & dad machine gunning native rebels, watches 2 loved family servants & scores of rebels die, & when the violence ends, the dad smilingly says, He's tired, but he'll sleep in the train. Next day when they send the boy off on a train to take him to a boat to bring him to school in London everyone is smiling like the night before was trivial. In our day, the kid would have a brace of psychiatrists on his case.

    While they are preparing for the attack they know is coming, the boy finds a cobra in the bathroom and climbs the wall to get away from it. His friend brings in a mongoose who battles the cobra to the death for several tense minutes on screen, then the boy and his friend skip out with the 6 foot long dead snake to show all their friends. At another point, his mother is attacked by a machete-wielding native. Ho hum. Just another day in the life of a rubber baron's son.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film hearkens back to the days when British imperialism was looked on as something noble. So, in light of today's thinking, this may be a bit hard to swallow.

    I adore Claudette Colbert, but she is not the main attraction here, and the film doesn't really suit her (not saying she bad in it, it's just not the kind of film we wanted to see her in, shooting "bandits" in the belly and using a machine American box office receipts proved). Instead, the main attractions are Jack Hawkins, a wonderful British actor who does well as the planter, here, although I couldn't admire the character at all -- at one point he intentionally endangers the life of a Malay child to protect his rubber trees. Shame, shame, shame.

    The other attraction here is that the film gives you a real sense of Malaya (I can say that having spent some time there)(although in reality, because it was filmed during the Communist emergency, most of the location filming was done in Ceylon).

    A highlight is the actual filming of a real cobra in a fight with a mongoose. Of course, after watching that, you may wonder how everyone was crawling around in the jungle at night! And, of some interest, the son of Hawkins and Colbert is played by Peter Asher -- later the Peter of Peter & Gordon.

    My guess is that most Americans will not admire this film was proved by the failure of the film at the American box office. This is much more for Brits who still wish that the sun never sat...
  • bkoganbing1 December 2012
    Jack Hawkins and Claudette Colbert star in Outpost In Malaya during post World War II times when the Malayans like everyone else in that part of the world wanted to shake off colonialism. What was going on in Malaya was no different than the French were facing in IndoChina. The only difference is that the British were successful and transitioned to a government that joined the Commonwealth though what its status is now I don't know.

    The two are rubber plantation owners and rubber planting is a big investment and it takes many years for a rubber tree to bear enough sap to convert to the rubber than eventually provides tires. When you see the guerrillas draining the sap from the rubber they know exactly how to hurt the planters where they live.

    The film is really quite dishonest because the natives are just simply bandits and that's the end of it. The political content of their discontent has been thoroughly drained from this film. Of course when you see the British army there you know it's not just bandits.

    Despite the politics being drained Outpost In Malaya is an exciting adventure story as Jack and Claudette defend their home and hearth and investment not to mention their young son played by Peter Asher, later of Peter and Gordon. Young Mr. Asher has an encounter with a cobra and is saved when a mongoose intervenes.

    The film is worth seeing for that alone.
  • A rather tiresome production supposedly set in Malaya after the war, although clearly everything is done on a set with model buildings for longshots and lots of fake jungle plants.

    The action scenes are OK, although hardly thrilling. Some things are amateurish. The sounds of machine guns firing was not synchronized with the muzzle flashes in close-ups. Jack Hawkins can throw a grenade at an opponent who is levelling a machine gun at him, and it explodes immediately, saving the hero. A little later, however, when a bad gun sets off a grenade in a tunnel, it doesn't explode for quite some time, long enough for 2-3 people to run down the tunnel and climb a ladder to get out of the way.

    As other reviewers have said, the attackers on the outpost are called bandits, but in fact this was a period of communist insurgency. It was an uprising which took the British many years to quell. Generations of colonialism, with the British lording it over the Malayans for generations and looting the country of its rubber and tin, had created deep resentments among Malayans. A portion of the Chinese population was especially involved, as they were supported from China, which had just recently undergone its own communist revolution. None of this background is portrayed in the film, although colonialist attitudes are everywhere, with the colonizers always appearing as superior to the Malayans.

    The print that I saw today on TCM was of quite low quality, rather blurry.

    I'm sorry I wasted my time with this movie. I have an interest in the history of Malaya/Malaysia and was hoping for something more accurate, more multi-dimensional, and maybe even with a little something for the mind to chew on.
  • touser200424 September 2017
    Stumbled across this film on an obscure channel late last night.As a Colbert fan I thought it would be worth a watch.Colbert looked fine for her age but the film was hardly inspiring .Even the best actors need good material and this film would only appear to a post war British audience . At the time it was probably a decent enough film but it is now seriously showing it's age.Still that's another Colbert film I've seen -not that many left to watch