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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.

Directors:

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

Writers:

Frederick O'Brien (famous novel), Ray Doyle (compiled by) | 2 more credits »
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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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) »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 November 1928 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bele sence See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because there were no sound facilities in Hollywood, Douglas Shearer took the completed silent film to New Jersey, where he added a synchronized music score and sound effects. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Opening Title Card: The coral atolls of the South Pacific... for happy centuries the last remnant of an earthly paradise... Islets "fresh from the touch of God"... Memories that lingered from the Morning of Creation... But the white man, in his greedy trek across the planet, cast his withering shadow over these islands... and the business of "civilizing" them to his interests began...
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Motion Picture Camera (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Hidden gem
11 March 2017 | by gbill-74877See all my reviews

How nice is it to see this treatment, this attitude, of the white man's imperialism towards native cultures in the 19th century, especially when other movies from this time period often had such blatant or casual racism. Here we clearly see the white man as the bad guy, greedy for pearls, exploiting the Polynesians, and spreading disease. It may be over the top and idealized at times, with some non-factual bits such as attacking octopi and grand proclamations against the white race as a whole, but its heart was certainly in the right place, and this notion of which party was evil was certainly correct.

Filmed on location in the Marquesas (or perhaps in reality Tahiti), it shows beautiful footage of the islands as well as the culture, such as people dancing, scaling coconut trees, shaving breadfruit, diving, fishing, and making fire. I'm not an expert but it feels authentic, and without a doubt, it's certainly respectful of the indigenous people. Director W.S. Van Dyke ("One Take Woody", who would go on to an Oscar nomination for "The Thin Man") pulls all the right strings here, from a fantastic typhoon scene, to intimate moments between leading man Monte Blue, and an island woman played by Raquel Torres. Most of the rest of the cast consists of real Islanders. Cinematographer Clyde De Vinna was worthy of the Oscar he won for the visual treats he gives us throughout the movie, and we also get a few bits of sound on MGM's first film with a pre-recorded soundtrack. What a hidden gem this film is for 1928.


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