19 user 6 critic

White Shadows in the South Seas (1928)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 10 November 1928 (USA)
An alcoholic doctor on a Polynesian island, disgusted by white exploitation of the natives, finds himself marooned on a pristinely beautiful island.


W.S. Van Dyke, Robert J. Flaherty (uncredited)


Frederick O'Brien (famous novel), Ray Doyle (compiled by) | 2 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Monte Blue ... Dr. Matthew Lloyd
Raquel Torres ... Fayaway


Matthew Lloyd has drifted away from a respectable career as a physician, and lives a mediocre existence in a Polynesian island. There, pearl-trader Sebastian and his associates recklessly exploit the natives working for them as divers. After witnessing the appalling consequences of "civilization" on the local population, Matthew vehemently condemns Sebastian's greed and ruthlessness. Sebastian, however, will not shy away from any means to crush opposition to his activities. Written by Eduardo Casais <eduardo.casais@research.nokia.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

native | greed | doctor | death | shipwreck | See All (39) »


A romance of Romances played against a setting of whispering palms and blue lagoons. Gorgeous, but terrible. this pathetic story of a white man's trampling of a dying race. (Print Ad- Calgary Daily Herald, ((Calgary, Alta.)) 1 December 1928) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The movie was preceded by an exotic prologue, The Tropics (1928), which starred Kenneth Olds, the most famous of all male Hawaiian dancers, and the Brox Sisters from the Ziegfeld Follies. It featured Samoan chieftains, 100 native dancers and instrumentalists of the South Seas Isles who were brought to Hollywood especially for the presentation, and a "Gigantaphone", the largest Victrola in the world. The film ran nightly for the duration of "White Shadow's" engagement. See more »


The drowned young man's left arm moves by itself. See more »


Dr. Matthew Lloyd: What has the mighty white race done to these people - except cheat, rob, and exploit them - ? You've wrecked their bodies diving for your pearls... given them your diseases... doomed them to extermination!
See more »


Featured in Settling the Score (2005) See more »


Flower of Love
(1928) (uncredited)
Music by William Axt and David Mendoza
Lyrics by Dave Dreyer and Herman Ruby
See more »

User Reviews

A magnificent film
16 February 2005 | by fsilvaSee all my reviews

It still doesn't cease to amaze me how some Silent Movies, dramas or comedies, catch my attention so much, getting me so immersed in the plot, thus making me forget I'm watching a silent, an antique, a piece of history, enjoying the movie as I'd do with any "talking" movie.

In this case, the images are so real (it was filmed on location) and so hauntingly beautiful, that make many later Hollywood films from the 1940's or 1950's, which depict "South Seas Life" look unreal, fake, notwithstanding their possible entertainment value.

There's so much truth in this morality photo-play about a white man, identified as a "derelict" of the South Seas, previously a doctor, who finds "Paradise on Earth" (peace, love & happiness), on a certain island of the Polynesia. Monte Blue is great as this "white man".

Most of the featured players of the film, one realizes, are real natives from the islands, and this adds so much truth to the storyline. Beautiful actress Raquel Torres, does not seem (IMHO) out of place at all as Monte Blue's native love interest. And Robert Anderson is a very nasty villain.

There are some awesome underwater sequences, featuring octopuses, sharks, pearl-diving and others featuring palm-climbing, dancing, etc. Notice the different tinting (reddish, blue, sepia ...) of the sequences of the film; only at the beginning and on the end, plain black and white is used.

Great Sound score for this late "silent film", the first used for a MGM film and the first time Leo-the-Lion roared! The original South-Sea Islands Film. Excellent.

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Release Date:

10 November 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Robert Flaherty's Southern Skies See more »


Box Office


$365,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System) (talking sequences, music and sound effects)| Silent


Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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