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With his sidekick Rusty, Jeff Harper sails to paradisiacal tropical isle Ahmi-Oni to bargain on behalf of his cattle baron father for land owned by transplanted Irishman Dennis O'Brien. But Jeff falls in love with O'Brien's daughter, Eileen, and even his father can't break them up after he arrives and himself falls under the spell of island splendor. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
Grass Skirts? The Better To See Betty Grable's Legs
I'm not sure but that Song of the Islands was had been done before December 7, 1941 and definitely before US servicemen started bleeding and dying in the South Seas. There certainly is no mention of World War II at all in this escapist Betty Grable film where she's poaching on Dorothy Lamour's south sea territory.
I'm sure that Darryl Zanuck must have saw the kind of money that Paramount was raking in with those Dorothy Lamour sarong pictures. So why not put the woman who had risen to be their top musical star in the tropics. They gave Betty a hula grass skirt instead of a sarong, the better to show her legs with.
Zanuck was also smart enough not to pass the blond Grable as a native Hawaiian. She's come home to teach school on the island where her father, Thomas Mitchell, has a small place, but also where George Barbier is the absentee owner of a cattle ranch.
Barbier's place is run by Hal Spencer, but Victor Mature and Jack Oakie sail over from America to see if they can buy out Mitchell. Mature is Barbier's son and of course when he and Grable meet, the inevitable sparks do fly.
Zanuck also put an official Hawaiian imprimatur on Song of the Islands by using Harry Owens to write the music with Mack Gordon's lyrics. Owens was the musical interpreter of Hawaii to the world, his most famous song being Sweet Leilani. And a Hawaiian national treasure named Hilo Hattie also appears in the film, singing in her inimitable style and setting her marriage cap for Jack Oakie.
It's all light and pleasant escapist entertainment and Song of the Islands is a good indication of why Betty Grable was the number one pin-up of GIs all over the globe. Except for Rita Hayworth.
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