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Richard L. Bare
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I never thought that this was one of the better Grable pictures and as I am taking a break from re-watching it for the first time in a decade I still hold to that original opinion.
The film has, if possible, too many character actors - Thomas Mitchell, George Barbier, Jack Oakie, Billy Gilbert, Hilo Hattie. And there is too much bickering.
OTOH, most of the songs are very tuneful, though undistinguished and the Technicolor is, as always, eye-popping.
The high points in the film are almost all Grable. If the film had been destroyed after the first reel, it likely would not have mattered because Grable's absolutely gorgeous entry into the film on a small outrigger just off shore of a tropical is breathtaking as is her brilliantly pretty face and figure.
And what a figure! All curves and plenty of them, looking delicious in clingy island dresses and hula girl out-fits. What a bundle! 5'4" (As I thought when looking at her while danced barefoot) and she measured in at 34 1/2-24-36 (self-described 1940).
She is singing "Sing Me a Song of the Islands" as she heads towards shore with her blonde hair blowing gently in the breeze as she softly offers the song in that vastly under-rated melodious and well modulated beguiling voice of hers. She's radiant with gleaming white teeth and big eyes as she sings the entire song in 90 seconds with the big Technicolor camera slowly zooms in from a medium shot to what becomes a near full lose up if her expressive face, never once breaking away...all in one shot.
I had a customer in my video store about 15 years ago who had not seen Song of the Islands since its original release in 1942 and all he remembered all those years was that opening shot of Betty Grable, her hair blowing in the tropical breeze and singing "Sing Me a Song of the Islands". Movie magic!
Victor Mature is in the film, too. He looks fine.
Hilo Hattie is the Hawaiian version of Charlotte Greenwood in the film; man hungry and doing her eccentric dances and songs.
As mention, it is not one of the 'great Grables' of the era, in spite of having the talented Walter Lang, who had directed some of Grable's best films in the 1940.
Unfortunately, what ever momentum the film has fairly comes to a halt about 50 minutes into the picture at which time there is little question (if there was ever any) about how the film will wrap up. The pictures weakest tunes are trotted out and Grable's last dance sequence is far from memorable.
Jack Oakie, playing Mature's sidekick (and only 39 years old at the time) manages to squeeze in a song and a romance for himself with a pretty island girl even younger than Grable and he and Hilo Hattie have the last laugh in the film. (Oakie frequently seems to get a special moment at the end of the films he is in. He had a big following and was extremely popular with everyone.) All in all...very lightweight stuff. Nice try by all involved. There's better Grables out there.
Now I'll go back and rewind the tape and watch that opening island sequence one more time. It's a freeze-framers delight!
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