The ISLANDERS was one of a bevy of late 1950's and early 1960's series that were set in far off areas of the Pacific. These would include, BEACHCOMBER, FOLLOW THE SUN, HONG KONG and the most famous, ADVENTURES IN PARADISE. This particular series, THE ISLANDERS ran for a total of 24 episodes during 1960 and 61. The series follows the trio of William Reynolds, James Philbrook and Diane Brewster. They are running a one plane (An amphibious Grumman Goose) airline out of the Moluccas Islands. Of course every week is a new adventure with a healthy amount of bad guys popping up. This episode is the first of the production run.
Diane Brewster, who goes by the moniker of Willy "Steamboat" Vanderveer, is a sometimes shady, wheeler and dealer in various products. Here she has an aeroplane for sale. She also has two buyers, Reynolds and Philbrook. The deal here is that neither knows that the other has bought the same aircraft. Brewster takes their cash and grabs a steamer to Java.
Once the rather upset Reynolds and Philbrook get over being swindled, they decide to fly to Java and grab Brewster when she gets there. Then, they will turn her over to the local Police.
Of course this does not happen, as Brewster talks them into a deal she has planned. She is going to buy a cargo of saffron, the most expensive spice on Earth. She has a buyer in Singapore who wants the "worth more than gold spice". She will cut the boys in for large piece of the profit.
The two men bite at the offer and agree to help. It sounds like a quick way to make a buck. Needless to say it turns out to be anything but easy. The deal goes sideways when several villainous types step up. First is crooked customs agent, Theodore Marcuse. He does a bait and switch bit that leaves Brewster and her cohorts with a few sacks of rocks. Then a local gangster, Sebastian Cabot, turns up the heat by killing Marcuse and hijacking the spice for himself.
Cabot also puts the grab on Miss Brewster as a bit of insurance. Cabot and his henchmen load up the cargo on his small boat. By the time Reynolds and Philbrook figure out what has happened. Cabot and his bunch have sailed with the spice and a trussed up Brewster. The boys grab the aircraft and set off in pursuit. Along the way they have been joined by a pretty Balinese dancer, Daria Massey.
Once they spot where Cabot has moored his launch, the men land. They swim over in the dark and board Chabot's boat. There is a quick flurry of flying fists, and a little bit of gun-play required before Reynolds and Philbrook capture the launch. The tied up Miss Brewster is freed, then, the cargo is transferred to the aircraft. And it is just in time as a fire breaks out on the launch. A barrel of fuel had been knocked over during the fight. Some of the contents had leaked onto an open flame. Boom! There goes the launch to the bottom.
The cargo is soon delivered and everyone is back in the Moluccas counting up the proceeds. Philbrook, Reynolds and Brewster decide to become partners, and set up a cargo and passenger service using the plane.
Not bad at all for a first episode. However, the series was not a success in the ratings department as it was up against ratings powerhouses, THE JACK BENNY SHOW and CANDID CAMERA. The show comes across as a waterborne version of TERRY AND THE PIRATES 1952, and the 1982-83 series, TALES OF THE GOLDEN MONKEY.
Some will recall Miss Brewster from LEAVE IT TO BEAVER, where she played school teacher Miss Canfield. She also showed up on the popular, THE FUGITIVE series as the murdered wife of Dr Richard Kimble. (David Janssen) William Reynolds later hit the big-time as a series regular on the long running, THE FBI. Philbrook did mostly guest bits on series television before moving to Europe to star in a string of Italian western and crime drama.
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