|SOUTH SEA WOMAN
(director: Arthur Lubin; screenwriters: Edwin Blum/Earl
Baldwin and Stanley Shapiro/based on the play by
William Rankin; cinematographer: Ted McCord ; editor:
Clarence Kolster; music: David Buttolph;
cast: Burt Lancaster (Sgt. James O'Hearn), Virginia Mayo
(Ginger Martin), Chuck Connors (Pfc. David Martin), Arthur
Shields (Donovan), Veola Vonn (Lillie Duval), Leon
Askin (Pierre Marchand), Robert Sweeney (Lt.
Miller ), Jim Hayward (Orville
H. Masterson), Peter Chong (Wu Ching),
Rudolph Anders (Capt. Van Dorck), Raymond
Greenleaf (Captain at court-martial),
Hayden Rorke (Lt.
Fears, prosecutor); Runtime:
99; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Bischoff; Warner
"Third-rate unbelievable WWII adventure/romantic comedy."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Second-tier director Arthur Lubin ("Francis"/"Impact"/"Rhubarb"), known for his work in Abbott and Costello, helms a third-rate unbelievable WWII adventure/romantic comedy, that's stiffly acted and awkwardly executed. It's based on the play by William Rankin and is written by Edwin Blum and adapted to the screen by Earl Baldwin and Stanley Shapiro.
1942, brawling Marine Gunnery Sergeant James
O'Hearn (Burt Lancaster) is being tried at the San
Diego Marine base for desertion, theft, scandalous
conduct, shanghaiing sailors and
destruction of property, charges that call for a
possible life sentence. It's filmed in flashback at
the court martial trial, where the accused stands mute
as he's defended by the court-appointed inexperienced
attorney Lt. Miller (Robert Sweeney).
From the flashback of witnesses that include Ginger
Martin (Virginia Mayo), we learn
how Hearn got stranded in Shanghai while trying to get
his recruit buddy, Pfc. David White (Chuck
Connors, minor league ballplayer's first big role),
out of a hostile saloon situation whereby the
owner tries to keep his feisty American
nightclub photographer Ginger, a stranded showgirl,
from leaving her job to marry the head-strong
jar-head. The trio steal the saloon's motorboat
and inadvertently sink the saloon while fleeing, and
when the boat malfunctions they are rescued in the
China Sea by a Chinese cargo boat--whose non-English
speaking captain (Peter Chong) refuses
to take them to Shanghai until he delivers his cargo.
After accidentally damaging the mast over
firecracker pranks, the trio is forced to embark
on the Vichy French island of Namou run
by the slimy anti-American Pierre Marchand (Leon
Askin). The trio then learns of
Pearl Harbor and in order to avoid being imprisoned by
the hostile island rulers, claim to be deserters.
Brought to the witness stand is Mme. Lily
Duval (Veola Vonn), owner of Namou's leading
hotel, who claims everyone on the island is either a
deserter or running away from their wife. The murky
pic only becomes more tedious as it goes on with its
turgid story, one that will predictably redeem the
marine deserters as heroes when a supposed Dutch
captain (Rudolph Anders) visits the
island with his yacht. It also shows how Ginger
overcomes her dislike of O'Hearn for trying to
break-up her romance with David and in the end she
falls for the hunky sergeant.
Lancaster was obliged to appear in three WB
productions as part of his deal with Warner
Bros. to finance and distribute three films made by
his independent company, Norma Productions. This is
one of those films, and it stinks.
film was critically slammed, but did a brisk
REVIEWED ON 11/13/2012 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ