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Outcast of the Islands (1951)

A man occupies a position of trust with a merchant in an East Asian port. He's sacked when he's caught stealing, but he pretends to commit suicide and a captain he befriended agrees to take him to a secret trading post.



Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Captain Tom Lingard
Peter Willems
Elmer Almayer
Mrs. Almayer
Kerima ...
Vinck (as Wilfred Hyde White)
Frederick Valk ...
Betty Ann Davies ...
Mrs. Williams
Dharma Emmanuel ...
Peter Illing ...
A.V. Bramble ...
Annabel Morley ...
Nina Almayer
Ships Mate


A man occupies a position of trust with a merchant in an East Asian port. He's sacked when he's caught stealing, but he pretends to commit suicide and a captain he befriended agrees to take him to a secret trading post.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Even her Love was Primitive! UNTAMED! UNASHAMED! MERCILESS! See more »


Drama | Adventure


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Release Date:

11 July 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Verdammte der Inseln  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Carol Reed originally wanted Stewart Granger to star. See more »


When Aissa confronts Lingard as he searches for Willems, she meets him with a rock in her right hand. The next shot shows her crouching down with her right hand rubbing her abdomen - the rock has vanished. See more »

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User Reviews

Something special for my hundredth contribution
11 November 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I remember making an occasion of my 50th "user comments" by electing to write about a film that I found rather special, Carol Reed's "The Third Man". I concluded those comments by saying that I would take the opportunity to write about Reed's one remaining great film, "Outcast of the Islands", as my hundredth contribution, so here goes. We had left school by the time "Outcast" appeared so opportunities for quizzes during breaks no longer existed. Instead a group of us would visit the cinema together once a week and when walking home would give each other a slot of about ten minutes in which to extemporise a criticism of what we had just seen. This would certainly have been our "Outcast" game as we devoured everything Reed gave us. He was in fact our God. Although much of his work now seems a little dated and I am not at all sure that "Odd Man Out" or "The Fallen Idol" are quite the masterworks that we thought they were at the time, critical acclaim seems undiminished for "The Third Man". This has never been quite the case with "Outcast" although it found a great devotee in Pauline Kael who described it as "a marvellous film". It is a work that grabs you from the very first shot of a seething mass of natives and even an elephant on a dockside in the Far East and sweeps you forward with its tremendous pace and the director's sheer love of bravura cinema. It doesn't quite conform to any of the conventional genres being hardly an adventure thriller, a romance or a tragedy and yet it has elements of all three. I suppose one would have to call it high melodrama, a film, epic in its detail and scope yet more concerned with integrating its vast gallery of images of local colour into its narrative than bursting into big set-pieces of action. Films about anti-heroes have never had great box office success, much less those where the anti-hero is weak through and through. Was it this that doomed Wyler's greatest film "Carrie" to near oblivion and was partly the reason for the neglect of "Outcast of the Islands"? And yet to ignore Trevor Howard's marvellous portrayal of Joseph Conrad's pathetically inadequate Willems would be to pass over one of British cinema's finest performances. And then there is that great actor Ralph Richardson as Captain Lingard whose Achilles heel is the misplaced trust he places in Willems. His portrayal has been seen as over the top by some but I would defend it to the hilt for its quality of Shakespearian declamation that is all part and parcel of Reed's directorial style. So often during his work of this period he shoots his scenes, particularly those between two characters, as if they are taking place on a huge theatrical stage. They shout at each other across large spaces, an effect that gives such scenes tremendous strength and resonance. The final sequence of "Outcast" between Howard and Richardson where they employ this device during the sudden outbreak of a tropical rainstorm is so powerful it has haunted me for years. It is possibly the single greatest scene in all Reed's work. Although he managed to retain his uniquely individual style of cinema throughout the subsequent "The Man Between" and the early part of "A Kid for Two Farthings", he was working with much less interesting scripts. That he ultimately lost even his stylistic fingerprints in later works such as "The Agony and the Ecstasy" and "The Running Man" is one of cinema's greatest tragedies.

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