“He’s my uncle — and my enemy.”
A young orphan (Roddy McDowall) cared for by his gunsmith grandfather (Harry Davenport) is seized by his unscrupulous uncle (George Sanders) and forced to work as his servant, in hopes that Sanders can maintain control over Benjamin (McDowall) and prevent him from learning the truth about his noble heritage. When Benjamin grows up (Franchot Tone), he falls in love with Sanders’ beautiful daughter (Frances Farmer) but decides to escape on a South Seas-bound ship in hopes of making his own fortune. Along with another stowaway (John Carradine), Tone lands on an island where they quickly uncover a wealth of pearls, and Tone falls in love with a native woman (Gene Tierney). Despite his newfound happiness, however, Tone is determined to stake a claim to his rightful inheritance, and — upon his return to England — enlists the help of a lawyer (Dudley Digges) in doing so.
- Elsa Lanchester Films
- Frances Farmer Films
- Gene Tierney Films
- George Sanders Films
- Historical Drama
- John Carradine Films
- John Cromwell Films
- Roddy McDowall Films
- Royalty and Nobility
- South Sea Islands
- Tyrone Power Films
John Cromwell directed this adaptation of Edison Marshall’s bestselling 1941 novel, featuring hunky Tyrone Power at the height of his fame and beautiful Frances Farmer just before her wrongful descent into institutionalization.
Sanders plays a typically sadistic baddie with nothing but ill intent up his sleeve, though Power is resilient and more than up to the task of facing him. This well-shot adventure-revenge tale covers quite a bit of territory (literally) in its 98 minutes of running time, and features numerous notable supporting performances — particularly by Elsa Lanchester as a helpful prostitute tickled pink to be interacting with nobility. While not must-see for all film fanatics, it’s well worth a look by those who enjoy this kind of historical adventure drama.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Atmospheric cinematography by Arthur C. Miller
- Elsa Lanchester as Bristol Isabel
No, though it’s recommended for one-time viewing. Listed as a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.