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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A film that lets Lorre be Lorre

Author: Anne_Sharp from USA
9 September 2000

Given his reputation as the archetypal crazed villain, in his long film career Peter Lorre played relatively few such characters, but his Stephen Danel in "Island of Doomed Men" is powerful enough to imprint such an image in generations of movie-watchers. With typical grace and intelligence, Lorre crafts this pulp heavy into an intricate portrayal of the quintessential fascist bully, winning through intimidation, gratified at bending others to his will yet genuinely puzzled and hurt by his inability to earn the love of his cherished captive-wife. As with so many other films he appeared in, the mercurial actor brings something real and human to this typically false and silly Hollywood pantomime.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:


Author: rowboat
2 January 2001

Peter Lorre is perfect in this role, a calm, controlling madman with a terrifying temper bubbling underneath. Flashes of his temper are the highlights of the movie. Whomever played his wife could've probably been out-acted by a beanbag, but she's pretty, so it's ok. The other main man was okay, and I was rooting for him like I was supposed to. I guess the underlying question is: Could an island of slavery actually exist? Just kidding. The movie is not that deep, or worthy of further thought. The underlying question actually is: What does Peter Lorre have against monkeys?

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Lovely lashings of Lorre!

Author: vulnavia-2
27 February 2000

This delicious low camp kinkfest proves that studio-era censorship wasn't nearly as thorough as it's purported to have been. In what seems almost like a rehearsal for the tormented lustmurderer Dr. Rothe in "Der Verlorene," Lorre gives unexpected depth and nuance to the melodramatic villain Stephen Danel, with just a dash of his patented quirky humor. Though the film itself is crude and pulpy, with an extreme BDSM quotient (Danel's prisoners are kept in line with cat o' nine tails, as, it's strongly implied, is Mrs. Danel) Lorre's deft performance lifts "Island of Dommed Men" from the realm of the ridiculous into sublimity.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Condoomed Men!

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
9 March 2013

Island of Doomed Men is directed by Charles Barton, written by Robert D. Andrews and features cinematography by Benjamin Kline. It stars Peter Lorre, Rochelle Hudson and Robert Wilcox.

Federal agent Mark Sheldon (Wilcox), by a strange quirk of fate, is framed for murder and sentenced to serve time on the Pacific Island penal colony he was to investigate anyway! Once there he finds harsh conditions and the camp run by a sadistic task master named Stephen Danel (Lorre). Catching the eye and befriending Danel's beautiful wife, Lorraine (Hudson), herself a prisoner of Danel's tyrannical behaviour, Sheldon knows he must act quick if he is to survive the Island of Doomed Men!

Neither good nor bad, Barton's film is standard fare that features strong themes fighting to impact during the relatively short running time (just under 70 minutes). Much of it is a sweaty prison drama driven by Lorre doing another one of his insane antagonist portrayals. Within the narrative is sadism, spouse and animal abuse, bondage and corruption of power, but these are just shards of potency in an otherwise very talky piece. Performances around Lorre are adequate and Barton and Kline have a decent eye for mood via the black and white photography.

Not very memorable and not nearly as throat grabbing as thematics suggest it could have been, but enjoyable while it's on and certainly one for Lorre completists. 6/10

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Peter Lorre left Twentieth Century-Fox to make this sort of film?!

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
26 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From 1936-1939, Peter Lorre made a string of highly successful Mr. Moto films. While technically B-films, they were much better made than typical films of the genre. However, Lorre tired of making these highly repetitive films and told friends he wanted out of the series. When it was canceled in 1939, Lorre was thrilled but his plans of getting more complicated and satisfying roles did not materialize when he moved to Columbia Pictures. ISLAND OF DOOMED MEN is one of these films and it's pretty obvious the studio isn't putting much effort into the movie, as I think the plot was written by penguins. Talented penguins, perhaps...but still the movie made little sense at all.

It begins with a guy agreeing to be an undercover agent for the government. He is to infiltrate an island in the US where something strange is amiss. Now they easily could have just got a search warrant to do this. But, given that penguins were writing the film, the agent takes the rap for a murder he didn't commit and spends a year in prison for this. He apparently hopes that he'll be paroled to this island, as many parolees are sent there when they finish the term.

There are some more serious problems with this idea. First, they only have him serve a year before getting paroled--but he was convicted of MURDER and he refused to divulge who he really was. They would never parole anyone in a case like this. Second, what if he wasn't paroled to the island? He would have spent an entire year in jail for nothing! Third, why not just have scuba divers or paratroopers or cops in boats come to the island?! Talk about a contrived plot!

Once on the island, the agent discovers that evil Peter Lorre has set up his own private prison and staffed it with guys on parole as slave labor. What about the men having to report to their parole officers? This was never explained, but Lorre was using them to mine for diamonds and they were treated abominably. Now, another question I had was that if Lorre was discovering huge diamonds there, he was a very wealthy man. So, why not just PAY people to mine for the diamonds?! Why set up your own version of Devil's Island and savagely beat and kill the men?!

Eventually, Lorre gets what's his and the island's slaves are released. Unfortunately, by then, I really didn't care. Overall, watchable but rather dumb. Lorre's career only took a turn for the better when he moved the following year to Warner Brothers. With films like ISLAND OF DOOMED MEN, I could see why his stay at Columbia was short.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Peter Lorre at his most menacing

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
7 November 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Peter Lorre gives one of his most evil performances as the owner of the titled place. The plot has a new government agent being put on the track of Peter Lorre's character. When the G-man's contact his killed by one of Lorre's agents, the G-man is sent to prison for the killing even though everyone knows there is more to the story. Lorre has the man paroled into his care and brought to his island where he is mining diamonds. Lorre wants to know what our hero knows, but he isn't talking and a battle of wills is set in motion.

This is a good solid little thriller that doesn't quite make a great deal of sense plot wise, but even so the film holds your interest. I had put the film on last night in order to use it as something to drift off to, instead I found the tale riveting enough I was up an extra 70 minutes. Lorre is the reason that one falls into this. His quite demeanor is unnerving. He does very little but its clear from his orders and the way everyone reacts to him (watch how they light his cigarettes) that he is a bad dude.

Worth a look if you should run across it.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Island with a Doomed Plot

Author: marshalskrieg from United States
8 May 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I did enjoy watching this film, but the absurdity of the plot made it impossible for me to properly suspend my disbelief. I kept asking myself, 'huh'? The protagonist is given a secret government mission to infiltrate an island where questionable goings-on are thought to be happening. Then he ends up in prison for a crime he did not commit, is miraculously paroled after one year into the care of the man (and island) he was suppose to originally penetrate- at this point your head begins to explode with obvious questions like "Why wont the govt just send someone to the island to look around?" And many more... The plot holes in the film are too deep and wide... you better watch your step!

OK, the real point of this film is Peter Lorre. That's why we watch the movie- we just cannot get enough of the guy. His creepiness is in full force here,he plays a sadistic man of wealth with a barely concealed rage, impeccably dressed, with good taste, a soft spoken seething monster with a menacing yet polite manner- this is what we want, and Lorre completely delivers. 5.8 stars.

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"You dirty slave-trading rat!"

Author: bensonmum2 from Tennessee
14 July 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If I have one problem with Island of Doomed Men, it's the complete lack of logic on display. Here's the storyline from the movie's main page on IMDb: "Sadistic Stephen Danel owns a penal island, and when he is not humiliating and mistreating his wife, he is torturing his convict prisoners and using them for slave labor. Government agent Mark Sheldon is sent to infiltrate the island and bring Danel to justice." There are a couple of glaring inaccuracies in this quote that go to my argument about a lack of logic.

First, Stephen Danel is not torturing "convict prisoners". Instead, he is torturing parolees. Parolees would undoubtedly be missed. How Danel gets away with his operation without someone becoming wise to what he's doing defies all logic. Like I said, these are parolees. Some would presumably have families that would be outraged if their loved ones just disappeared after being paroled. Also, I'd think the U.S. prison system would do a better job of monitoring parolees. Sure, a few might fall through the cracks, but not the dozens Danel has gone through over the years.

Second, Sheldon's plan to bring down Danel is so convoluted and illogical that it will make your head hurt if you think about it long enough. The quote makes it sound as if the Justice Department (or some other government agency) sent him to the island on a mission. Not true. Instead, to get to the island, Sheldon allowed himself to be convicted of a murder he didn't commit, serve a whole year in jail, and have himself conveniently paroled into Danel's custody. What a ridiculous plan! Sheldon's predecessor appeared to have enough information on Danel to justify a search warrant. When Sheldon was arrested, why not come forward with that information instead of going through the ridiculous steps he took to get to Danel? Utterly illogical.

If it weren't for Peter Lorre's performance, some decent tension in the film's finale, and Rochelle Hudson, I'd easily rate this one much lower.

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No escaping from Dead Man's Island.

Author: Michael O'Keefe from Muskogee OK
28 June 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Peter Lorre plays sadistic Stephen Danel lording over Dead Man's Island. Danel uses paroled convicts as slaves digging in his diamond mine. Undercover Government agent Mark Sheldon(Robert Wilcox)is framed for murder, so Danel can arrange for him to be transferred under his custody to his remote island. It doesn't take long for Sheldon to set his eyes on Danel's beautiful wife Lorraine(Rochell Hudson). Plans are made to escape with one of Danel's workers. The glamorous Lorraine is fed up with her prison of a marriage and wants to escape too. The attempt is foiled by Danel's spy, Brand(Don Beddoe). All will not be lost as the undercover agent convinces several of the diamond diggers they are not totally doomed, because Danel can easily be out numbered. Will anyone, even just one, get off Dead Man's Island alive? Lorre is outstanding in this role. The movie is well paced under the direction of Charles Barton. Other players include: George E. Stone, Charles Middleton, Earl Gunn, Stanley Brown and Kenneth MacDonald.

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Peter Lorre has his own island and his own prisoners, including Rochelle Hudson

Author: msroz from United States
18 October 2014

In "Island of Doomed Men", Peter Lorre owns a small remote island. He likes being the boss of this small empire and he apparently makes money from it by mining something, as we see the men doing hard labor on rocks. He obtains prisoners for it by getting the authorities to release men to him on parole. He's married to the very unhappy Rochelle Hudson who made a mistake 3 years earlier and thought she was getting a good deal. With her looks, this is very implausible. Lorre is assisted by Robert Middleton (of his own Emperor Ming fame) who wields a whip, by Don Beddoe who is his rival, and by Kenneth MacDonald (of Three Stooges fame). MacDonald is a doctor who patches up the men.

Robert Wilcox is a government agent who infiltrates the island as a parolee. The island otherwise seems to be off limits to outside inspection. The stalwart Wilcox soon finds an ally in Hudson and seeks ways to take over the island and end Lorre's reign.

The movie in its looks and story is on the verge of the noir era. Lorre is obsessed and becomes moreso as the story progresses. Hardly ever raising his voice, Lorre's island master conveys menace and control by determined threats and by his own self-control and calm exterior. Although the movie is his, Wilcox is equally attractive in his heroic determination and cleverness. Middleton and MacDonald score too. Also effective in support is Lorre's house servant, George E. Stone. The set inside Lorre's dwelling is impressively decorated with a huge desk and other furnishings. Hudson is decked out in some beautiful gowns by Kalloch. Despite the story's implausibility, there is a good deal to savor here, including some suspense. The picture doesn't lay the cruelty on too thick, but still there are several whippings, one man dying and desiring to die, chains, and many disheveled prisoners. The terror here is present but not hammered home.

Hollywood films of old like this may not be great works of art or cinema, but that doesn't diminish their attractions and appeal. It's easy to love old films like this and watch them again and again. In the better productions like this, even if it's a b-movie, it's fun to see the Hollywood faces one comes to know, the lovely sets, costumes, the smooth acting and editing, the often beautiful cinematography, the solid writing, and to hear actors with voices. The whole package is great escapism and entertainment.

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