A seaplane departs for China. On board are a nurse escaping a loveless marriage to do work with refugees, a woman hoping to surprise her estranged son, a wealthy heiress trying to distance ...
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A group of adventurers head deep into a South American jungle in search of ancient Incan treasure. A beautiful woman, brought to their camp by hired bearers, has come to join her husband, a... See full summary »
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.,
An Austrian prince flees his homeland when the Nazis take over and settles in London. While in London, he meets a beautiful Austrian émigré who makes him realize his mistake in leaving ... See full summary »
The Great Garrick (Brian Aherne) is the most celebrated London theater actor of his day (eighteenth century) and is invited to Paris to star at the Comedie Francaise, the most important ... See full summary »
Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
A seaplane departs for China. On board are a nurse escaping a loveless marriage to do work with refugees, a woman hoping to surprise her estranged son, a wealthy heiress trying to distance herself from labor troubles, an oily politician, a moll and a mobster fleeing the wrath of the gangs they've double-crossed, two rival munitions salesmen out to cash in on the misery of war, and a fresh-faced young steward. Caught in a course-altering storm, a crash-landing destroys the plane, kills the plane's officers, and tosses the surviving passengers into the sea. They are washed ashore on an isolated island inhabited solely by mysteriously reclusive Mr. Taylor and his servant, Ping. Until Taylor decides if, how and when he will allow them to take his boat back to China for help, this disparate band must work together, change their self-centered ways, and examine their motives for wanting to escape from the island and their pasts. Written by
Sister Grimm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In Madge Evans' interview by Leonard Maltin in Film Fan Magazine (December 1972), the actress gave the following testimony about filming "Sinners in Paradise": "Well, this was not his (i.e. James Whale) kind of film. He was much too intelligent, much too good a director for this kind of nonsense which was all about people cast adrift on an island, a dreadful picture and he was much, much too good for it. He hated it, and also being a rather up-tight Englishman, he showed that he hated it. You could just see that every time he came to a scene, he was saying, 'Oh, my God,' and that doesn't make anybody feel either confident or happy." See more »
I don't know what director Whale told actor Lockhart, but the actor's buffoonery just about kills the movie. After a plane crashes in the Pacific, the survivors manage (we're never shown how) to get to an island where a mysterious man (Boles) lives with his Chinese servant. It's a motley crew of survivors, including a rich woman, a gangster, a state senator, two fast-talking operators, a floozie, and several others. Meanwhile, forming new relationships and making needed adjustments carry the narrative.
Perhaps the biggest influence on the film is leftist screenwriter Lester Cole, later one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten. The movie's subtext shows how social distinctions lose their meaning on the island. Even money. At the same time, the working people's skills take on vital value in new surroundings, while the privileged can contribute little. Then too, I expect Lockhart's generally useless character amounts to Cole's shot at politicians of the time. Good lessons here, and ones not restricted to that Depression era.
Anyway, helping the film are good special effects, especially the frenzied plane crash. Even the studio blended beach shots are well done, a surprise for cheapjack Universal studios. Too bad the acting's uneven, but then the hour-long format doesn't provide for much character development among the large cast. Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was Ping (Fung), the manservant. I expected he would be nothing more than the usual foolish stereotype. But, not so.
Anyway, there's a good movie stymied somewhere inside the brief runtime and Lockhart's over-acting. Check out the thematically similar Five Came Back (1939) to see a much better version.
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