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Polynesia: All captain Knight (Jon Hall) wanted to do was to take King
Parea (Felix Locher) to a neighbouring island to pay a visit to his
daughter Mareva (Roberta Haynes) - but on the island, he finds Mareva and
all the islanders enslaved by Malone (John Carradine) and his gang of
crooks, who force the natives to dive for pearls - a dangerous enterprise
since the pearls are down very deep and the waters are swarming with
sharks and manta rays. Knight and company are trying to overthrow Malone
and company, but are instead taken prisoners themselves, and Knight is
forced to dive for pearls as well - but he makes up a plan to outsmart the
crooks and attack and defeat them when they still believe him to be down
on the ocean's ground. Then he plans to take them to Tahiti to face the
On their way to Tahiti however, Malone and company manage to free
themselves, and they throw everybody but Knight and Mareva over board and
force him to take them to New Zealand - they need him you see because none
of them can navigate a vessel and they need her to properly force him.
However, Knight manages to play a trick on them, and ultimately he takes
them back to the island of their departure, where they are imprisoned
Eventually, Lamoret (Peter Lorre), the commissioner from Tahiti
comes by to pass judgement, and he pretends to imprison Malone and gang
and take them back to Tahiti - while he's really in cahoots with the
crooks. Then though, native boy Tatoa (Danny Richards jr) has found a
shipwreck full of treasures on the Ocean ground - where he dived to to
impress Knight -, and suddenly Malone and gang fall out with the fake
commissioner, overcome him and dive to the shipwreck themselves ... where
they get into a fight with Knight which is only resolved in Knight's
favour when Mareva comes down as well with a harpoon - and in the end, the
baddies get their just desserts and Knight gets the girl.
late-1950's attempt by Jon Hall to revive his stock-in-trade island girl
movies that have shot him to fame in the late 1930's/early 40's. Of
course, the elements are all there: The exotic settings, the island girl
(though Roberta Haynes is no Dorothy Lamour or Maria Montez), the juvenile
co-hero and the like. Still, Hell Ship Mutiny pales in comparison to
Hall's earlier films, its plot is episodic and doesn't seem fully
developed, the exotic sets seem to have been made on a budget, and worst
of all, unlike most of Halls earlier films, this one is shot in black and
white. Now I have to mention, normally I am a fan of black and white, but
a movie with a fairy-tale like plot just as this one just needs rich
saturated colours to come across. Sure, that will end in a piece of high
camp - but the film's plot itself is high camp as it is, so that might be
the whole point to shoot it in colour.
Still, to end this review on a
happy note, Peter Lorre gives a great and amusing performance, and
admittedly the film is not quite as disappointing as I made it out to be -
just don't expect a classic of any kind.