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An airplane crashes in an uncharted Pacific island, south of Tahiti. Three men survive, and one gets in love with a beautiful native girl. She is the the daughter of the tribe's leader, who may inherit the throne after the tragic death of her brother, and she is as savage as her pet leopard. The other men prefer to think about how to rob the tribe's gold treasure.
WHITE SAVAGE (1943) was one of first three Universal Picture Technicolor productions when they acquired their contract with the company (the other two being "Phantom of the Opera" and "Arabian Nights", and it shows in every respect.
I was fortunate enough to catch White Savage on the big screen a few months back and was thoroughly impressed with the acting, script, and most of all, the beautiful set design and lavish Technicolor photography. The added sex appeal of Maria Montez does not hurt, either.
Again, like in "Arabian Nights", Montez is teamed up with Jon Hall as Kaloe, a shark hunter who is after Vitamin A to sell. Unfortunately, he is unable to fish around Temple Island, where all of the sharks seem to be. He meets a rascally friend named Orano (Sabu) who, through connections, gets him to meet the Princess (Montez). Needless to say, after some mishaps, the two fall in love. Also in the picture is Princess Tahia's brother (played by Turhan Bey) who is a gambler and loses to Miller (Thomas Gomez), who is after the treasure hidden in the palace pool.
The cast here, like most of the Universal Technicolor productions, is an all star one. Montez, Hall, Sabu and Bey end up all being Univeral-Tech favorites, and show up in almost all of the films. Also a rare treat is the added distinction of Sidney Toler in his Charlie Chan make-up, in an obviously similar role of a detective/lawyer/banker/et al. Thomas Gomez and Don Terry also round up the cast.
The photography is constantly colorful. There is not one scene in the film where there isn't a splash of blue, red or green somewhere in the picture. Direction by Arthur Lubin is adequate, while the script by Richard Brooks never slows down when it shouldn't.
Unfortunately, White Savage (1943) is not available on tape or disk, and due to the fact that Universal's commercial catalog lists the title as "black and white" by mishap (a simple error they have yet to corrected), most television stations will not play it. Even AMC, with a recent line-up of all the Montez titles, left this gem out of the package.
I would strongly urge anyone at Universal or with any influence to investigate this film. It's quite an adventure, and is sure to attract audiences.
I give it 8 or 9 out of 10. Not perfect, but at a little over an hour, time well spent.
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