6.3/10
448
11 user 5 critic

South Sea Woman (1953)

Approved | | Action, Adventure, Comedy | 27 June 1953 (USA)
AWOL marine Sgt. Jim O'Hearn is court-martialed for a variety of offenses that carry 143 years in the stockade or the death penalty but refuses to aid in his own defense.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A Yankee sea captain has adventures in paradise trying to become an entrepreneur in Micronesia.

Directors: Byron Haskin, Burt Lancaster
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Joan Rice, André Morell
Ten Tall Men (1951)
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Sgt. Mike Kincaid of the French Foreign Legion learns, from a Riff prisoner, that an attack will soon be made by the villainous Hussin on the Legion's outpost of Tarfa. Kincaid volunteers ... See full summary »

Director: Willis Goldbeck
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jody Lawrance, Gilbert Roland
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

The sons of a Colorado cattle baron, one biological and the other adopted, resent one another and fight for control of their father's cattle empire.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Robert Walker, Joanne Dru
Desert Fury (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The daughter of a Nevada casino owner gets involved with a racketeer, despite everyone's efforts to separate them.

Director: Lewis Allen
Stars: John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, Burt Lancaster
Rope of Sand (1949)
Adventure | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A man abused by a sadistic mining company cop before he could tell where on their desert property he'd found diamonds decides to steal them instead.

Director: William Dieterle
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A district attorney investigates the racially charged case of three teenagers accused of the murder of a blind Puerto Rican boy. He begins to discover that the facts in the case aren't ... See full summary »

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Dina Merrill, Edward Andrews
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The triumph and tragedy of Native American Jim Thorpe, who, after winning both the pentathlon and decathlon in the same Olympics, is stripped of his medals on a technicality.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Charles Bickford, Steve Cochran
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Fugitive Bill Saunders and lonely nurse Jane Wharton are crossed by fate when he hides out in her apartment.

Director: Norman Foster
Stars: Joan Fontaine, Burt Lancaster, Robert Newton
Comedy | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The black sheep of a family and the local minister discover their true vocations during the Revolutionary War.

Directors: Guy Hamilton, Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Laurence Olivier
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Forced to trade his valuable furs for a well-educated escaped slave, a rugged trapper vows to recover the pelts from the Indians and later the renegades that killed them.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas
Apache (1954)
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Refusing to let himself be re-settled on a Florida reservation, Massai, an Apache warrior, escapes his captors and returns to his homeland to become a peaceful farmer.

Director: Robert Aldrich
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jean Peters, John McIntire
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A Kentucky widower bound for 1820's Texas with his young son is thwarted in his efforts by a corrupt constable, a long-standing family feud, and a beautiful indentured servant.

Director: Burt Lancaster
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Diana Lynn, Dianne Foster
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Master Gunnery Sgt. James O'Hearn
...
Ginger Martin
...
Pvt. Davey White
...
'Jimmy-legs' Donovan
...
Col. Hickman
...
Pierre Marchand
Veola Vonn ...
Lillie Duval
Bob Sweeney ...
Defense Lt. Miller
...
Prosecution Lt. Fears
Raymond Greenleaf ...
Captain at Court-martial
...
Ensign at Court-martial
Henri Letondal ...
Alphonse
William O'Leary ...
Smith - Embezzler
John Alderson ...
George Saurel ...
Jacques (as Georges Saurel)
Edit

Storyline

Marine Sergeant James O'Hearn is being tried at the San Diego Marine base for desertion, theft, scandalous conduct and destruction of property in time of war. He refuses to testify or plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. Showgirl Ginger Martin takes the stand against his protest. She testifies O'Hearn won't talk because he is protecting the name of his pal, Marine Private Davey White. Ginger tells how she, broke and stranded, met the two marines in Shanghai two weeks before Pearl Harbor. White proposes marriage so that Ginger can be evacuated from China as his wife. Before the ceremony, the two Marines get into a fight with the natives and escape with Ginger aboard a small motor boat. They wind up in Namou, a Vichy French island, and are quartered in a run-down hotel. O'Hearn discovers a Nazi yacht delivering radar supplies to the island, and plans to seize it with the help of the Free French. White refuses to join and says he is deserting and intends to remain on the island ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A thousand rousin' carousin' thrills !


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

27 June 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

South Sea Paradise  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Began shooting in January 1953. See more »

Goofs

At the opening of the court martial, when the judge asks, "Is the prosecution ready to proceed?" the JAG lieutenant (Hayden Rorke) responds, "Aye, sir." US Marines and Naval personnel use "yes" to respond to a question in the affirmative, and "aye" to respond to an order. A lieutenant would know this. See more »

Quotes

Master Gunnery Sgt. James O'Hearn: You two are not married. The ceremony Woo Ching read for you was the burial ceremony.
Ginger Martin: What?
Master Gunnery Sgt. James O'Hearn: That's Chinese burial service, that's why you are wearing white clothes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Queer as Folk: Stand Up for Ourselves (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

The Japanese Sandman
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting
Played at the Shanghai saloon
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Neither fish nor flesh nor fowl nor good red herring
8 August 2014 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

In 1944 U.S. Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant James O'Hearn is facing a court martial for desertion, theft, scandalous conduct and destruction of property, charges which in time of war carry the death penalty. ("Scandalous conduct" in this context means sex outside marriage; if that were to be regarded as a capital offence under military law I suspect that the fighting strength of most of the world's armies would be drastically reduced overnight).

The above might suggest that this is a serious courtroom drama along the lines of "The Caine Mutiny". Admittedly, the film starts off in serious vein, but as soon as Ginger Martin (she with whom O'Hearn allegedly conducted himself scandalously) takes the stand seriousness goes out of the window and it descends into ridiculous comedy.

Ginger is presumably the "South Sea Woman" of the title, but she is actually a white American rather than a Polynesian and only finds herself in the South Seas by chance. When O'Hearn first meets her she is working as a showgirl at a nightclub in Shanghai, where his regiment is stationed, and is the girlfriend of his friend Private Davy White. An attempt by White to slip away to marry Ginger leads to the three finding themselves adrift at sea on a small motor boat. In a series of increasingly farcical misadventures, in the course of which they inadvertently commit the acts which will form the basis of the charges against O'Hearn, they are rescued by a Chinese junk and eventually cast away on the French-ruled island of Namou. As the Governor of Namou is pro-Vichy, and as the attack on Pearl Harbor has now brought America into the war, the two Marines have to pretend to be deserters in order to avoid being interned. White and Ginger attempt to marry several times, but are always frustrated.

It is at this point that the film changes direction again, largely abandoning comedy and turning into a patriotic wartime adventure as O'Hearn and White discover a fiendish Nazi plot and decide to take action to thwart it, to seize a boat and to rejoin the Marines who are fighting the Japanese at Guadalcanal.

Mixing genres in this way is often a risky business, the risk being that the resulting film can end up as neither fish nor flesh nor fowl nor good red herring, or in this case neither drama nor comedy nor action. I don't think there was ever any possibility of this film being a sort of "Caine Mutiny Court Martial", but it could certainly have been made either as a comedy about the adventures of a pair of bungling Marines and a girl or as a standard gung-ho action war film about two heroic Marines with a sub-plot about their love-interest.

The attempt to make the film as a combination of these two approaches simply results in a misbegotten dog's breakfast, a film which is not very amusing when it tries to be a comedy and not very exciting when it tries to be a wartime adventure. About all one can say for it is that Virginia Mayo looks lovely, as she normally did.

This is not quite Burt Lancaster's worst movie; he normally saved his worst for those occasions, mostly in the sixties and seventies, when he allowed his political judgement to overcome his artistic judgement and ended up playing a villainous right-wing fanatic in turgid, paranoid left-wing thrillers like "Executive Action" or "The Cassandra Crossing". It is not, however, one of his better ones, and is one that is probably best forgotten by all but the most obsessive Lancaster fans. 4/10


2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?