A doctor caring for natives on a tropical island is dismissed by the bully owner of the island who discovered a discrepancy in his medical past. Suddenly, the owner is struck with acute ... See full summary »

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Doctor
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George
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Laura
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Johnny Boss
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Marua
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A doctor caring for natives on a tropical island is dismissed by the bully owner of the island who discovered a discrepancy in his medical past. Suddenly, the owner is struck with acute appendicitis and the just-fired doctor is called to perform emergency surgery. Written by Jay Phelps <jaynashvil@aol.com>

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Comedy | Drama

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4 December 1952 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Perils of the 1/2-hour dramatic format
19 January 2011 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

This early entry in the anthology series "Singer Four Star Playhouse" is a perfect example of why the half-hour drama show format was dropped so many decades ago. Nearly 60 years old, "The Island" doesn't play well at all. In fact, the advertisements for Singer Sewing Centers are more entertaining than the main program.

Guest Star (the 3 original alternating regulars of the Playhouse were Dick Powell, Joel McCrea and Charles Boyer) David Niven plays a sort of "defrocked" medical doctor, very sympathetically taking care of the natives and respecting their customs on a remote island.

The owner of the island and the soap company that employs him, George Macready arrives on the island with his bride Dianne Foster, and immediately fires Niven, having researched that he's been hired and is operating under a phony name. Very corny plot device has Macready struck with appendicitis and Niven saving his life. Predictable resolution of the conflict ensues.

With just 26 minutes to work with (including the integrated Singer commercials), the backstory, characterizations, plot developments and changes of hear come way too fast & furious to satisfy. Ironically, the current fad on TV is for hour-long (that means 40 or so minutes of actual show) dramatic series to juggle at least two or maybe three stories at a time, a result of the ADD syndrome of younger viewers who are assumed to be too restless to appreciate linear presentations. Maybe they're ripe for a revival of the short-short format used here.

At any rate, John & Gwen Bagni's screenplay for "The Island" is pure hackwork, a platform that I found embarrassing for such a great talent as Niven. His film career was still going strong in 1952, though hardly at his peak level of top A assignments, but I guess TV was the coming thing at the time, attracting all sorts of big screen talents.

Macready, who has nothing to be ashamed of for his roster of film noir villains over the years, is boring and one-note as the hard-hearted, hissable creep her. The always reliable Dianne Foster is earnest in a painfully underwritten role as his wife. A cheap jungle set in the studio is not much to look at.


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