The intertwined lives of two kindred souls with ambition begins when Captain Whip Hoxworth discovers that Nyuk Tsin has been smuggled aboard as part of cargo on The Carthaginian, which he ... See full summary »
The intertwined lives of two kindred souls with ambition begins when Captain Whip Hoxworth discovers that Nyuk Tsin has been smuggled aboard as part of cargo on The Carthaginian, which he captains, a cargo supposed to consist of only male Chinese workers bound for Hawaii. Nyuk Tsin was kidnapped from her Haaka village to be sold to a Honolulu brothel. She is spared when Mun Ki claims she is his wife, and Hoxworth goes along with his wife's suggestion that they can work in the Hoxworth household as domestic servants. Nyuk Tsin becomes known to all as Wu Chow's Auntie (Aunt of Five Continents) when her five sons are named after continents (with Mun Ki's wife in China regarded as their official mother). Whip founds an empire in pineapples, using Japanese laborers, after smuggling his first seed crop from French Guiana as Wu Chow's Auntie grows a family business in Honolulu around her sons. Written by
The Hawaiians was made from the middle third of Michener's novel Hawaii. Compared to the Julie Andrews - Max von Sydow movie Hawaii, made from the first third of the book, The Hawaiians is unpretentious, lowbrow, but much more entertaining. The plot of The Hawaiians revolves around two stories -- the rise to political and commercial power of second generation American immigrants, and the arrival in Hawaii of Chinese and Japanese immigrants.
The story of the American immigrants' rise to power follows the life of Whip Hoxworth, played by Charlton Heston. He gains wealth by establishing the first pinepple plantation in Hawaii, then participates in the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, which led to the islands becoming an American territory.
The story of Chinese and Japanese immigration to Hawaii is told through the life of Char Nyuk Tsin, played by Tina Chen. She becomes the second wife of fellow immigrant Kee Mun Kee, who fails at almost everything he does. But through hard work and perseverence, Char Nyuk Tsin prospers and creates a better life for her children.
This is not highbrow cinema. The acting is second rate, the script is second rate, everything about it is second rate. For example, the attempts by the Chinese-American actors to speak Chinese is almost laughable. They speak Mandarin with atrocious accents, even though the characters are supposed to be speaking either Hakka or Cantonese. But it doesn't really matter. This is the sort of movie to watch when you don't want to have to think hard. It's an enjoyable no-brainer, a pleasant diversion while eating popcorn.
The Hawaiians enjoys a footnote in the history of the MPAA's movie rating system. When it came out in 1970, it earned a PG rating, despite having two scenes of female nudity. Japanese immigrant farm workers are shown enjoying a traditional communal bath, and one attractive young woman is shown topless for a short time. This created a mild controversy at the time, although the scene is about as sexy as a National Geographic pictorial.
I have not been able to find The Hawaiians on tape or DVD. If anyone in the business can get it released, please do!
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