The sailing vessel Cannibal has a leaking hull. The captain (Rock Hudson) reluctantly changes course for Honolulu, where one passenger (Cyd Charisse) is wanted by the law. The water rising, everyone struggles against nature to survive.
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Having seen better days, the sailing vessel Cannibal sets out for Mexico from the south Pacific with a leaking hull. The captain (Rock Hudson) is haunted by a tragedy that happened on another ship under his command. Believing the vessel to not be seaworthy, the crew pleads to change course for Honolulu. Being wanted there in connection with a man's death, a passenger (Cyd Charisse) wants to avoid Honolulu. As the water rises in bilge, the passengers and crew struggle against nature to survive.
The "Albatross", the boat used in the film, was owned by Ernest K. Gann, the author of the novel and the screenplay. He sailed her from California to the South Pacific, where he cruised extensively. His account of the voyage is written in two of his non-fiction books: "Song of the Sirens" and "A Hostage to Fortune". See more »
In an effort to expand his casting range Universal Studios was giving Rock Hudson some unusual parts during a period when he was at the top of the box office heap in the late Fifties. In Twilight For The Gods, Rock tries but doesn't really succeed in the role of existential hero sailing on a leaky schooner with crew and passengers across the Pacific islands to Mexico. It's a part that Kirk Douglas or Robert Mitchum probably would have done better with.
But not much better because Twilight For The Gods is ambiguous to the point of confusion. Some people who want to leave the South Seas like Reverend Ernest Truex, irreverent beachcomber Richard Haydn, singer Judith Evelyn and her conman manager Leif Erickson, and hooker Cyd Charisse. The only two normal ones who give Rock no problems are elderly refugees Celia Lovsky and Vladimir Sokoloff. As for the crew his first mate Arthur Kennedy is a treacherous piece of work and Charles McGraw is a mutinous dog. Only Wallace Ford is any kind of loyal and he's drunk most of the time. This tub should have sunk within sight of Tahiti.
Cyd Charisse has the best reason for leaving, she's wanted by the Honolulu PD for questioning in a murder. She's got Rock's mojo going and she's the main reason he won't stop in Hawaii for repairs. This mutinous crew's case is not without merit.
The film was adapted by Ernest K. Gann from his book. Gann wrote a couple of really good air story novels The High And The Mighty and Island In The Sky that served John Wayne well. There are some superficial resemblances between Twilight For The Gods and The High And The Mighty, but whereas Wayne was a real hero bringing in that damaged plane, Hudson comes off like a petulant fool as the captain.
Best scene in the film is Cyd Charisse who repels Arthur Kennedy's blackmail attempts with some real put down zingers.
Twilight For The Gods did nothing for Rock Hudson's career. Fortunately for him the following year would see him team with Doris Day for the first time. Hudson would have some good dramatic parts in his future as well. But Twilight For The Gods was probably a film he'd like to forget.
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