User Reviews (10)

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  • telegonus17 November 2001
    A sort of mini-De Mille picture from Republic studios, A Fair Wind To Java is a fast-moving adventure story set in the south seas. Fred MacMurray is excellent as the hero, really quite at home in the sort of costume picture role one wouldn't expect to find him in. What absurdities there are in the story are offset to a large degree by the actor's surprising moral authority as the humane captain. Vera Ralston is lovely if unexceptional as the heroine. The supporting cast is fine and energetic. As always, the Lydecker brothers provide superb special effects on a limited budget. Overall, a watchable, old-fashioned movie, if a tad anachronistic for the fifties. The ending provides genuine spectacle, and is well worth the wait.
  • Good guys vs, pirates in a race for a fortune in diamonds. Lots of action and much violence, especially in a scene where Vera Ralston, who plays an escaped slave girl, is captured by the bad guys and whipped to make her tell where the diamonds are. She dosen't tell and pays for it, leading to the explosive ending of a great erupting volcano scene.
  • In glorious trucolour! Another Republic storybook masterpiece from the last 5 years of the studio, this is an Indiana Jones pirate/volcano movie before anyone thought of Indie...or Did Spielberg Lucas see this aged 8 are regurgitate it into the 80s as with Star Wars 70s epics from other Republic (serial) adventures of the 40s. Actually, don't Spielberg Lucas owe Republic Studios a lot!!.......FAIR WIND TO JAVA stayed in cinema circulation even after 1960 and was often seen in cinema screens at Kids matinees with other Republic films like TOBOR or the hopeless western botch PAWNEE. The 1969 cinerama sized KRAKATOA EAST OF JAVA (it was west, actually) might have attempted a bigger screen and scope, but this 1953 version with Fred and the pirates - and genuinely beautiful art direction and great modelwork, is a lot more fun. Even Vera the acting wife came out of this one well.
  • A thrilling action adventure story is the scenario for "Fair Wind To Java." There is fighting among pirates and good guys, a graphic flogging of a beautiful slave girl and a massive eruption of a volcano, all in brilliant color. Although it's the usual good guys vs. bad guys genre, the story line is good and action abounds everywhere as the good and the bad search for a fortune in diamonds. Good performances by MacMurray, Ralston and Douglas.
  • Republic Pictures knew how to do two things really well—action and special effects. Both are on showcase display in this south seas epic. Okay, no one expects deep think or character development from the studio of the matinée western, and this 90-minutes doesn't disappoint. For Republic, story was just an excuse to stage barroom brawls and shootouts, anyway. The plot here appears a cut-and-paste job from one of their many Saturday afternoon serials (e.g. a masked mastermind), while the characters seldom rise above stereotype.

    Still, studio honcho Yates spent what for them was a bundle. He even went out and hired A- list Fred MacMurray to pair up with his hapless sweetie Vera Hruba Ralston. MacMurray, always the professional, gives his sea captain his all, while native girl Ralston has little more to do than get dragged around. I'm still puzzled, however, by handsome John Russell's presence in what seems a tacked-on role. Maybe it was something of a screen test for bigger and better things.

    Anyway, the Trucolor is gorgeous, the action fast and furious if often mindless, while Krakatoa blows up real good. So, if you want your eyes entertained at the same time your brain takes a rest, be sure to tune in.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As I began watching the movie, it seemed to have a Saturday matinée feel to it-- not that I know entirely what that is, but I'll take the idea and run with it. Filmed with the studio's Trucolor process, it overflows with bright green, blue, red and orange. The script is very sharply written, and we learn a lot about what makes these sailors behave as they do. We're given the backstory of MacMurray's character, how he ascended the ranks and was given a ship of his own; how it led to the sea near Java. He meets Ralston's character as the movies gets underway, and he frees her from slavery. Yes, it is one of those kinds of love stories.

    Several things impress me about FAIR WIND TO JAVA. First, the supporting cast couldn't be better-- Victor McLaglen, Claude Jarman Jr. and John Russell are all men under MacMurray's command; while Robert Douglas plays a rival treasure seeker. Also, the music is grand-- sweeping and romantic each time it comes up on the soundtrack. So much that honestly one can't tell if the sea is supposed to be just as romantic in this tale as the relationship between MacMurray and Ralston. And then there is all the boisterous action.

    What's a good swashbuckler adventure story without rousing fights on board the ship, or a hunt for diamonds on land that is soon obscured by debris from a very active volcano? And speaking of the volcanic eruption that occurs near the end (perhaps symbolizing the passion shared by the main characters), Herbert Yates-- Republic's boss and Miss Ralston's husband- - has gone all out to present the most spectacular special effects you could ever imagine. Yes. It's worth more than all the diamonds in Java.
  • bkoganbing19 December 2012
    In reading a book about Fred MacMurray that came out last year I learned that he considered this the worst of his films. While I don't think it's as bad as all that the main weakness of Fair Wind To Java is the casting of Fred MacMurray in a part that was originally intended for John Wayne.

    The same author who wrote the novel this film is based on wrote Wake Of The Red Witch which I consider one of John Wayne's best films and certainly his most romantic. After The Quiet Man came out Wayne decided to terminate his relationship with Republic Pictures and Herbert J. Yates. Republic and Yates made most of their money peddling John Wayne to the major studios with him occasionally doing a film for Republic over the years.

    Try as he might MacMurray does not cut it as a swashbuckling captain of the China trade. Worse for him was the fact that his leading lady Vera Hruba Ralston was not what he was used to working with. He who made some of the best comedies around with people Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn etc. found Ralston's lack of talent and professionalism too much.

    The villain of the story is Robert Douglas an Australian merchant who also goes around as a Malay pirate with a Lone Ranger mask. This was a true comic book villain I just couldn't take seriously.

    The climax is the eruption of Krakatoa where a cache of fabled diamonds are hidden in a temple. That's what MacMurray and Douglas and their respective crews are after. Now considering this is Republic Pictures and not one of the major studios the special effects aren't bad. And the color cinematography is nice.

    But if you're beyond the age of 12 it's hard to take Fair Wind To Java all that seriously.
  • Spikeopath27 September 2008
    Out in the Dutch East Indies and Captain Boll is out looking for treasure, diamonds to be exact. But he is not alone, and not only does he have to contend with on board grumblings, he has angry tribesmen and a rumbling volcano thrown into the bargain as well.

    Fair Wind To Java is a just above average adventure yarn, gleaming colour and a tidy production ensure it's a watchable piece. The standard plot formula {complete with pretty female love interest} is boosted by the film's last quarter, here the viewers patience is rewarded with fights aplenty and the presence of Krakatau volcano literally doing its stuff. In fact the last quarter is a joy for those with home cinema, rough seas and volcanic rumblings boom out of the speakers, and certainly up the ante of the viewing experience. Outside of that the film doesn't have much else to highlight, the acting in the main is fine, Fred MacMurray as Boll and Victor McLaglen as O'Brien both turn in solid professional performances, but Vera Ralston as Kim Kim is desperately poor in the main female role.

    Not one to recommend to adventure fans with any great confidence, but certainly worth a look on a rainy day. 6/10
  • Barnstorming South Seas hokum in chewy Trucolor of the type Republic Pictures was churning out by the yard at this time, full of plot elements that had earlier done service in their westerns & serials, such as diamonds being sought by a plummy-voiced villain in a carnival mask, endless fisticuffs, and of course Vera Hruba Ralston, wife of Republic's president, Herbert J. Yates.

    On this occasion she pays Kim Kim, a dusky Eurasion exotic dancer with extraordinary eyebrows whose mere presence aboard McMurray's rigger the 'Gerrymander' soon has men fighting over her, and is later flogged to reveal the location of the diamonds.

    The phoniness of the studio scenes on board the deck of the 'Gerrymander' is complimented by the usual overacting by Republic stalwarts Victor McLaglen and Paul Fix, in marked contrast to superb model work by the Lydecker brothers depicting the 'Gerrymander' battling pirates at sea and climaxing in the 1883 eruption of the volcano Krakatau and the resulting tidal wave.
  • AAdaSC18 July 2009
    Capt. Boll (Fred MacMurray) is sailing in the Dutch East Indies in search of diamonds. A slave girl Kim Kim (Vera Ralston) that he buys holds the key to the whereabouts of the diamonds and she becomes the target of pirates, led by Pulo (Robert Douglas) who are also after the same thing. The film is a race between Boll and Pulo to find the diamonds which are located on Krakatoa. As it happens, this all takes place at the same time as the volcano erupts.

    Its crap. I challenge the viewer to stay with it without wandering off and daydreaming about better things. There is no interest, drama, tension - its a straightforward plodding adventure. Its slow moving and the acting is terrible. Vera Ralston puts on a terrible accent - I mean, imagine pronouncing the word "volcano" as "volcarno" - that is an accent from nowhere! Also extremely irritating is Wilson (Paul Fix) as a pirate. Why have these false, unfunny comedy characters in stories? They are not needed and they provide no humour. Boll has a troop of comedy pirates with Wilson as the worst offender. He wears a ridiculous ear-ring as well. I'd have pushed him overboard.

    Robert Taylor's mask is quite effective when we first see it, and the volcano wakes you up in the last 10 minutes, but the film is just a waste of time. The sets are so obviously fake (the speed at which the water moves in the background is so laughably unnatural), the sound quality is poor and the model ships are pushed along at speeds that defy belief. At the end of the film you will be drained and just want to go to bed because you have been so bored for the last hour and a half.