HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Outcast of the Islands Immoral Dilemma
Year: 1951
Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Trevor Howard, Ralph Richardson, Robert Morley, Wendy Hiller, Kerima, George Coulouris, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Frederick Valk, Betty Ann Davies, Dharma Emmanuel, Peter Illing, A.V. Bramble, Annabel Morley, James Kenney, Marne Maitland
Genre: Drama, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Peter Willems (Trevor Howard) is a trader in Singapore who thinks he knows it all, or at least knows how to take advantage of any good luck which may come his way. That is, until that luck runs out, as it does today when his boss grows sick of him spending his money without much reward, and promptly sacks him. Willems quickly realises this means his source of profit has evaporated just like that, and he is suddenly plunged into dire circumstances: who will hire him now? But then he has a brainwave, as there's a very sucessful trader, Captain Lingard (Ralph Richardson) due in port...

Lingard, you see, has managed to negotiate the seas between the dangerous islands around this area, but will not tell anyone his secret as he alone believes he knows what's best for the natives and their wellbeing, not to mention their trade. Thus begins a complex moral dilemma, not that either man is willing to face up to their reponsibilities as they both are out to better themselves, but Lingard is more about protecting the people from the worst instincts of those who would exploit them, yet Willems recognises they would be quite happy to be exploited if it made them rich. So who do we side with, is the question raised? Who has the moral high ground, if any of them do?

Outcast of the Islands was based on a Joseph Conrad novel, and his works were famously difficult to do justice on the screen what with the deep inner lives of their characters, but director Carol Reed, coming off the triple successes of Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol and The Third Man, evidently fancied a challenge, so off he went (with Alexander Korda's blessing) with his crew to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, to film around the coast there, a decision that paid artistic dividends, especially when you consider what it would have looked like if they'd been forced to shoot it all in the studio (interiors were studio-bound, but much of this was on location). Not that this would have been half as good without a clutch of strong performances to back him up.

But when this was released, it flopped, with a critical reputation generally of the opinion that Reed had lost it, and his grasp had exceeded his reach this time; he never quite recovered his standing, although he would have hits later on, most notably with musical Oliver! However, when selected viewers began to return to Outcast of the Islands they noticed that it had been given far too short shrift, and there was actually a rich, dark plot here brought to life principally by the excellent Trevor Howard in one of his career best roles. Perceiving that Willems would actually be quite a pathetic character if it were not for his lust for life, Howard skillfully depicts his frustrations and weaknesses while still making plain his determination to take the bull by the horns.

Not that it helps him in the long run, but God loves a trier, even if we see by the end it's not going to redeem Willems - or any of them. He fakes a suicide attempt by jumping into the sea in full view of Lingard, who then fishes him out of the water and thinking he was at the end of his tether (which he was, even if he wouldn't quite face up to the fact) transports him all the way through those dangerous channels to the village where Lingard does his trading from. There, in charge of operations when he's away, is his son-in-law Elmer Almayer, played by Robert Morley who proved he could be a terrific dramatic actor here when not asked to play comedy as he often was. Almayer is married to Wendy Hiller as the sensitive daughter of Lingard, and they have a daughter themselves (unmistakably Morley's own offspring), yet the villagers treat them with respectful suspicion, and Willems soon comes to realise he is in some kind of hell which his lust for a native girl (Kerima) will not soothe as she is out to exploit him. As a portrait of a soul fighting and failing to survive, Reed's work just missed the classic status it sought, but offered a vivid and haunting experience nonetheless. Music by Brian Easdale.

[After a long time in obscurity, Studio Canal have released Outcast of the Islands on Region 2 DVD in a clear, crisp print. No extras, but those curious about it will be rewarded.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3271 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: