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In 1870, Yankee sea captain O'Keefe finds himself stranded after a mutiny on the Micronesian island of Yap, where the financial potential of copra (dried cocoanut) excites him. But a German company already has a monopoly...and very low production because hard work is alien to dwellers in paradise. On a later voyage, between affairs with island maidens, O'Keefe struggles to find the key to the wealth of Yap. But before he can carve out the empire of his dreams, he must also contend with assorted villains... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
William Henry "Bully" Hayes (1829 - 1877) was a South Sea pirate born in Cleveland, Ohio. He ran trading missions throughout the South Pacific (including the Marshall Islands, Cook Islands, New Zealand , Australia), specialising in rum and rifles, but he was not averse to "blackbirding" (slaving). He was killed after a violent disagreement and his body was thrown into the ocean. His murderer was never brought to justice. See more »
O'Keefe returns to Hong Kong and stock footage is shown of people walking down a street. However, the movie is set in the 1870s and the footage is of 1950s Hong Kong. Giveaways include signs such as "No Motors". See more »
If you like Burt Lancaster, than this film is worth watching. The plot is very silly, and takes place largely in the South Seas. There is the usual large contingent of half-naked South Sea natives interacting with the "white man", although several of the natives with speaking parts are white themselves, as always: Joan Rice and Abraham Sofaer in particular come to mind. And as always, the natives who speak English speak it better than many people I know in real life. Joan Rice, in particular, has a beautiful English accent of dubious ancestry for a native girl (OK, yes, her father was British, but she was brought up in the South Seas and somehow speaks a more polished English than he does).
There are many bad Germans, with very stereotypical movie accents (proto-Nazis?), and one good German, played by Andre Morell, with a less disagreeable accent (although his saying "zee" for "the" gets tiring). His genial friendship with Burt Lancaster is pleasing. Most hilariously, Joan Rice, as Burt Lancaster's eventual wife, looks completely lost most of the time, smiling her way through most scenes, looking like a confused tourist in Paris who doesn't speak the language.
But we started with Burt Lancaster. Burt gets to show off his acrobatic skills in several scenes, swinging on ropes and so forth, although in one shot he is shown only beginning to climb a coconut tree; I would like to have seen him climb to the top. He smiles a lot in this film, and this too is always pleasing.
The plot is too absurd and improbable to describe. Everybody wants the oil of the coconuts, which is very valuable, except the natives themselves. There are too many changes of power on the island, and it is not that interesting to follow. But it is a pleasant enough film, and totally harmless.
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