The West Indies island of Portuga exists mainly for sponge diving. But the best area of collection is frequented by a very large manta ray. Nina loses her brother to the creature and is ...
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The West Indies island of Portuga exists mainly for sponge diving. But the best area of collection is frequented by a very large manta ray. Nina loses her brother to the creature and is comforted by a newly arrived minister, who seems very interested in an old poster offering a reward for a convict recently escaped from nearby Devil's Island. More deaths attributed to the sea bat follow before Nina resolves her feelings for her comforter. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
[aboard the schooner]
I've worked sponge beds all over the world. But this here island is the rottenest hole I was ever dumped in!
The black scum spend all of their time prayin', and the white scum spend all of their time sleepin'!
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I suppose people turned out to see an early talkie which not only had lots of outdoor footage but also underwater photography. THE SEA BAT is a good film but I think it would have been better had they made it about 5 years earlier as a silent as the characterisations and plot complications come directly from the silent days. The giant manta ray (a Sea Bat) is making life rough for the sponge divers on the island of Portuga (where everyone claims to be of Spanish descent but talks with French accents). This would have been enough for a plot but throw in a minister (Charles Bickford) who won't preach any sermons and stumbles through a funeral service picking passages from the Bible at random. It is not revealing too much to say that this fellow is an eccaped convict who stole a ministers outfit to get off Devil's Island. Now about this being a silent style film? Well the idea that a former pirate who broke jail and is hiding behind a ministers collar reforming just because he reads a few verses from the Old Testament is something you'd expect from D.W. Griffith, circa 1920, yet that is just what happens. Also the scene where the latest victim of the Manta (Nils Asther, best remembered from OUR DANCING DAUGHTERS, 1928) is brought back to port is staged exactly as if this were a silent film. The cast is a joy to see. Watch for Gibson Gowland (GREED) as a Cockney seaman, former Charlie Chaplin comic foil Mack Swain as a bartender, and look fast for a still-unknown Boris Karloff in 3 scenes as a sailor referred to as "The Corsican". The damsel in distress is Raquel Torres, best remembered from F.W. Murnau's docu-drama WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS (1928). The scenes of the giant manta are well done and convincing.
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