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) »


Beneath blue Southern skies of the South Seas, the pearl ring operates. It knows no law! It tears loved ones from each other! It sends men to their doom on the ocean bottom! (Print Ad-The Frontier, ((O'Neill, Neb.)) 30 May 1929) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This was the first sound film exhibited in Lisbon, Portugal, at Royal Cine, Lisbon's largest cinema, at a special session attended by the President of the Republic, Óscar Fragoso Carmona and a select audience of VIP politicians and artists from various sectors. The session was preceded by a newsreel from MGM, a documentary about the Lisbon dockyards and various American and French song numbers. See more »


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


Title Card: The Dancer of Ceremonious Welcome... official Starter of Feasts. His name was Kekelafaufaupaopao - - "Man with Legs Like Exploding Eggs".
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

Thoughtful Silence
12 February 2005 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

Spreading from island to island, the WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS corrupt every culture they encounter.

This unfortunately obscure film, produced by MGM right at the cusp when the Silent Era was giving way to Sound, is a fascinating look at the vanishing way of life to be found in the South Pacific Islands. Its beautiful, vivid photography justly won the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

This 'Camera Record' was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, the Studio's on-location master. The film's prologue states "Produced and photographed on the natural locations and with the ancient native tribes of the Marquesas Islands in the South Seas." The footage depicting the pearl divers and the coconut tree climbers is particularly noteworthy.

Monte Blue gives a very fine performance as a derelict doctor who finds himself acclaimed as a white god on an island of gentle, friendly natives. His despair at the arrival of brutish Caucasian traders in this idyllic paradise is riveting. Mexican actress Raquel Torres, in her film debut, is poignant as the island maiden who captures Blue's heart.

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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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