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Pirates of the High Seas

USA 1950
produced by
Sam Katzman for Columbia
directed by Spencer Gordon Bennet, Thomas Carr
starring Buster Crabbe, Lois Hall, Tommy Farrell, Gene Roth, Tristram Coffin, Neyle Morrow, Stanley Price, Hugh Prosser, Symona Boniface, William Fawcett, Terry Frost, Lee Roberts, Rusty Wescoatt, Pierce Lyden, I.Stanford Jolley, Marshall Reed, John Hart, Charles Quigley, John Zaremba
written by Joseph F. Poland, David Mathews, George H. Plympton, Charles R. Condon


review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Some island paradise in the South Seas: Being pestered by pirates (who unbeknowest to him have a submersible yacht at their disposal) a few times too often, young skipper Kelly (Tommy Farrell) sends for his friend Drake (Buster Crabbe) for help, a war hero who has vowed to never return to the South Seas, but then again he cannot resist helping a friend. Interestingly, before he knows it, he has quite a few passengers to accompany him to the island paradise, including the island's gouvernor Whitlock (Gene Roth), Kelly's sister Carol (Lois Hall), and Castell (Tristram Coffin), an OSS agent on the lookout for war criminal von Hausendorf, who seems to have hidden a Japanese treasure on the island during World War II. Drake soon regrets having accepted passengers when a murder occurs, and a cigarette case that seems to hold a secret goes missing.

Once on the island, Drake, Kelly, Carol and Castell all put their heads together to find out what's going on - while it's revealed to the audience that the baddie of the piece is actually gouvernor Whitlock himself who's in cahoots with the pirates. On the island, the Lotus Lady (Symona Boniface), a mysterious trader, seems to be pulling all the strings (and will eventually turn out to be one of the good guys), and she sees to it that Drake and company manage to retrieve the cigarette case, which contains a clue that leads them to an island swarming with superstitious savages who like to kill on sight and who worship a music box playing "Three Blind Mice" - which actually contains the next clue to the treasure.

Somehow, Drake and friends manage to steal the music box from the natives, and from then on it changes hands at regular intervals, with not only Drake, the pirates and Whitlock being after it but also a hooded figure who eventually turns out to be Hausendorf who eventually is revealed to be none other than Castell.

Of course, after much to and fro, Drake and company find the treasure, the baddies all kill one another or are killed in a cave-in, and Carol reveals herself to be the actual OSS agent Castell claimed to be.


In the 1950's, the movie serial as such was on the decline, and this one readily shows why: Its based on a sloppily written script with a few too many plotholes, all the whodunnit elements are too easy to guess and then revealed way too soon, the tightness of the budget shines through a bit too often, and the cliffhangers are rather on the unimaginative side, as are their resolutions. And while Buster Crabbe at least gives a competent performance, most of the other actors are less than special. Add to this a directorial effort that's hardly above production line level, and you've got yourself ... a rather boring piece of work, actually.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD