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Two dashing pilots and a beautiful, devious woman in a tropical paradise
21 September 2006
Sandy Wade (William Reynolds) and Zack Malloy (James Philbrook) were
adventurers in the Spice Islands of the East Indies. Sandy and Zack
started a business by buying a beautiful airplane that could land in
water ("The Duck"). The boys' nemesis and sometimes partner was the
lovely Steamboat Willy (Diane Brewster), who was something of a
Sandy, Zack and Steamboat Willy spent a lot of time hanging around
Shipwreck Callahan's bar, waiting for business.
This series was MGM's answer to "Adventures in Paradise". "The
Islanders" had a great Howard Hawks type set-up. You could imagine Cary
Grant, Spencer Tracy and Rosalind Russell as the leads in a Hawks film
with a similar premise. The execution of this adventure series was
competent but not inspired. But the three actors were extremely
attractive and appealing. All three had star potential.
William Reynolds had already played the title role in "Pete Kelly's
Blues" and would star a year later as Captain Jim Benedict in "The
Gallant Men". Reynolds finally wound up as Efrem Zimbalist's partner on
"The FBI" for six years.
James Philbrook would go on to star in "The Investigators" with James
Franciscus and co-star in "The New Lorreta Young Show". He then
mysteriously disappeared from television. I think he headed for Europe.
Diane Brewster had previously played Samantha Crawford on "Maverick"
and "Cheyenne", a character similar to Steamboat Willy. Diane was also
excellent as Paul Newman's mother in "The Young Philadelphians", a year
before starting this series. Diane went on to play Helen Kimble on "The
Gena Rowlands and Darren McGavin guest starred in one episode. Other
guest stars included Peter Falk, Leslie Nielsen, E.G. Marshall and
Richard Bare directed the pilot. Bare had also previously directed
William Reynolds in a memorable "Twilight Zone" with Dick York. That
"Twilight Zone" was probably William Reynolds finest performance. He
played a WWII platoon leader who could foresee which of his men would
die in battle. He finally foresees his own death.
William Reynolds and Richard Bare were in a plane crash, when flying
home from making the pilot for "The Islanders". They were both out in
the water hoping to be rescued. Bare jokingly asked Reynolds if he was
going to survive. Reynolds humored him by saying yes. Thankfullly, they
both did survive.
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