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Olga San Juan,
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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 »
19th century freebooter O'Keefe (Lancaster) uses his wiles to set up copra trade in south seas despite native resistance and organized competition.
Lancaster was made for this kind of role. With his athletic frame, blinding grin, and iron jaw, he's a great adventurer. Later, he became a serious actor, but I always preferred the grinning swashbuckler ever up to some kind of daring-do, as he is here.
This is one of his lesser known action films and I'm not sure why. At times the shifting loyalties are hard to follow, so it's not the simple action narrative of good guys versus bad. Still, the story's based on fact, and I like the insight into how the Europeans try to turn the simple native economy into a commodity producing one (copra). In that regard, I really like the ending that seems surprisingly contemporary in its respectful politics. As a result, the story may be complex, but there's also considerable substance.
Meanwhile, I'm on my way to Yap to see if the green-eyed Dalabo (Rice) left any female offspring. Besides, the scenery there is spectacular, nicely captured by Warner's Technicolor department. Traditional Hollywood usually went to Catalina for its south seas background. Not here. Instead, Warner's popped for authentic Pacific locations-- probably to compete with newfangled TV. Then too, Lancaster's big, native ceremony is elaborately colorful and unusual, especially the costuming. At the same time, he gets to do some of his effortless acrobatics and come up grinning.
In my book, it all adds up to an entertaining package and well worth tuning in.
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