Kona Coast (1968) Poster


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So misunderstood
doctorx29 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Kona Coast is an all but forgotten relic of the late 1960's -- as are the members of the cast, Richard Boone, Vera Miles, Chips Rafferty, Joan Blondell, and Steve Ihnat. Several other reviewers have dismissed it as abysmal trash: low budget, poorly scripted, edited, and directed. The sound track is a period piece, and might have been lifted from an episode of "Mannix." Surely, to the naive viewer, the story is moronic and predictable, the music ridiculous (e.g., bongos erupting in every action sequence), the sequencing choppy and disjointed. Until the advent of DVD, it was virtually impossible to find an intact copy of the film, and to date, only 7 people have written reviews of it for IMDb.

But all of this misses the point. Kona Coast is high art, masquerading as trash.

In the opening sequence, we are treated to a sweeping panorama of the Pacific ocean as viewed from the boat of Captain Sam Moran (Richard Boone) -- the ship's wheel unattended until his bare foot lolls across it, steering in the most laissez-faire manner, as he reclines with a vintage bottle of Primo beer in his hand, laughing into the wind.

This scene is genius. So much is conveyed about the man: carefree, a wild and untamed soul, a free thinker and lover of life.

Each scene unfolds with a brutal frankness, abruptly, without logic or explanation -- so much like life itself. The rawness of this unpolished gem may appear to the naive viewer evidence of schlock; to the discerning student of film, this gut-wrenching directness, making the viewer uncomfortable, even disoriented, is the masterful work of a Fellini, or perhaps more accurately, an Ingmar Berman. The intensity of feeling is conveyed on a level too visceral to be transmitted on any rational basis.

Likewise, the use of minimal orchestration, a "1960's detective show" sound track punctuated by riveting bongo breaks during action sequences, keeps the viewer's mind distracted, so the viewer's raw psychic underbelly is left fully exposed to the powerful psychic impact of this confusing and at times disturbing masterwork.

Consider the complicated love triangle between Moran, Melissa Hyde (Miles), and the young girl infatuated with Moran, who eventually evolves into a surrogate for his slain daughter, but not until an uncomfortable Electra complex is played out between her and Moran. The tension -- sexual energy -- is palpable. In the scenes between Miles and Boone, watch closely for hinted-at but never shown sexual intensity.

The subtext to the film's surreality is of course Boone's long descent into alcoholism, which had all but claimed him by the time Kona Coast was made. Boone was a regular fixture in Kona in the 1960's; his swollen eyes, paunchy, scarred face, and whiskey baritone were for real. This gives the character of Moran a poignant realism. The viewer can not escape his hopeless, boozy ennui.

Vera Miles' Melissa also evokes a deep reaction: here at the height of her womanly allure, she is no ingenue, but a worldly woman constantly aware of the inescapable encroachment of old age and loneliness.

Also worthy of note is actor Steve Ihnat, who portrays the villainous drug lord, Kryder. Ihnat is given little to work with in Kona Coast, but he makes the most of it with an edge of demonic insanity that makes the viewer squirm. Devotees of the 1960's Star Trek series will find themselves waiting for him to scream, "LORD Garth!"

The action sequences are jarring, precipitous, irrational -- so much like the violence of life itself, absurd and exhilarating.

Most of all, this is an existential story. Sam Moran is a man confronted with the most terrible of losses: the death of his daughter, soon followed by the death of his best friend. His way of life and everything he believes in are suddenly in question. Every time he proclaims, "I'm Sam Moran. Who the hell are you?" -- (I lost count) -- he boldly reasserts his identity in the face of nothingness. Moran is the quintessential man of the 1960's: strong, independent, and absolutely free of doubt. He is a champion in man's struggle against nihilism.

Had this film been made in French or Swedish, it would have been heralded and remembered as a masterpiece. It is literally so bad that it is good. One might predict that with the advent of DVD and greater accessibility to the masses, Kona Coast will enjoy a renaissance, perhaps even achieving cult film status. Kona Coast is an unappreciated work of modern art.
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An Amiable Mess of a Movie
Bob-455 October 1999
From the tacky opening credits to the kitschy music, to the meandering script, to a supporting cast blending old stalwarts (Joan Blondell, Kent Taylor) and unknowns, to the "guest star" (Steve Inhant, Chips Rafferty) to the "special guest star" (Vera Miles), KONA COAST screams "unsold pilot." Calling from the home of a rich drug dealer (Steve Inhant) A "party girl" loaded on smack Sam "the Man" Moran (Richard Boone) a bigger-than-life fishing boat skipper. Boone begins a search for the "party girl;" whom, of course, is Boone's daughter. With a minimum of information, Boone shows up at Inhant's home and makes not-so-veiled threats. Though dialogue, we learn four days have passed since the girl's disappears (Aha! Station Break), and the police pick up Sam because the girl has "washed up on the beach". Boone "puts the word out" on the street, and gets beaten up by a couple of Inhant's henchmen. Boone's "neighbor" on the pier (Chips Rafferty), gets his lungs badly burned putting out a fire which destroys Boone's boat. Rafferty, who makes no attempt to act as if he is gasping for breath, asks Boone to put him on Rafferty's boat and take him home to die. Rafferty's Aussie accent is thick enough to spread on a cracker. When Boone arives at Kona Coast (Rafferty's home), he meets Rafferty's "sister" (Joan Blondell), who sounds closer to Yonkers than Sydney. Boone has never met Blondell before, but he know's the local tavern owner (Kent Taylor) as though they were old friends! Blondell runs a retreat for reformed alcoholics, and one of her guests just happens to be an "old flame" of Boone (Vera Miles). Boone meets Miles at the tavern rather than the retreat (I imagine, to save the number of shooting locations), and the tavern owner seems to know an awful lot about both Boone and Miles (?) Of course, none of this has anything to do with solving the case. Not a problem; Inhant, for some reason, considers Boone enough of a challenge to come after him (!) exposing himself to the kind of public scrutiny even the most daring drug dealer wouldn't risk. After all, wouldn't Inhant's suppliers feel "uncomfortable" providing "pharmasuticals" to a man this reckless? Further, Inhant's men don't carry any guns, and are pretty stupid to boot. So, of course, Boone prevails, makes a business partnership with Blondell, and revives a noncommittal romance with Miles. As bad as this movie is (And it is REALLY bad), I've wanted a VHS copy for twenty years. The movie is fun, in a mean-spirited way. Boone is a delight to watch; this man laughs and snarls with such gusto, you can't help but like and respect him; even when the script calls for him to do some incredibly stupid things; and even when he is verbally abusive to Miles. Boone is a man you can BELIEVE would take care of the "baddies." Despite the horrible shot mismatches (closeups aren't even properly posed), KONA COAST is also beautifully photographed, and has a more Hawaiian flavor than either HAWAII 5-0 or MAGNUM P.I. The young supporting cast of Hawaiians and Polynesians is attactive, if not particularly talented. And both Kent Taylor and Joan Blondell make the most of their few scenes and cliched characters. Shut off your brain, watch KONA COAST and enjoy.
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gordon-28725 August 2011
To the other reviewers here, I would add:

Cons: The dialog is contrived, the acting is poor, and the story is sophomoric. This all adds up to "hokey" as an apt description for this movie that must have escaped as opposed to being released. It's a miracle that Boone was even able to get Blondell and Miles to be in it. They must have needed to pay some bills.

There was one scene in which the goons hired by the bad guy beat him up next to a phone booth, and the police arrive not more than five seconds after he hits the ground! How's that for response by our boys in blue? What this adds up to is a hokey film, so save your time (and money if you thought of buying the DVD).

Pros: The scenery is nice. A lot has changed in the 40+ years since the filming of this movie, but those who have been to Kailua-Kona will recognize some of the views along Alii Drive.
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Some pretty scenery, one good character performance, and dat's all folks.
mark.waltz6 March 2013
Warning: Spoilers
There's the potential for at least an entertaining thriller in this Hawaiian set action drama, but unfortunately, mostly unlikable characters line the tepid screenplay. Richard Boone may be alright as a second lead or villain, but as a hero, he's totally unappealing. He's a boatman whose illegitimate daughter reaches out to him in a drug-induced state and leads him on a pointless chase to find her killer. This leads him to brassy Joan Blondell (as the sister of a pal who bequeaths him half interest in his fishing boat) and old flame Vera Miles, as well as some stereotypical natives and a gay villain so unlikable that gay audience members were most likely hissing him at the few theaters that this probably played at.

There are some enlightening moments, particularly Blondell's admission that she's spent 30 years crying over a bottle which explains her initial hard demeanor. You know that underneath this blowzy dame lies a huge heart, and when she breaks down and smiles, it is the rising of the sun. Miles, also playing a recovering alcoholic, seems like she's slumming, a socialite whose past with Boone doesn't warrant re-exploring. He's actually quite verbally abusive to her, so it makes no sense that she would see anything in him unless she's in the market for further self-destruction. As for the gay villain, he's so flamboyantly evil, leading Boone on a final chase with prissy taunts that make Jack Cassidy and his pink poodle in "The Eiger Sanction" seem like Jack LaLane in comparison.
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Kona Coast is good drama fare..or fair good drama
magrurry6 August 2002
Kona Coast is good drama fare One of the simplest movies to follow and get behind, allowing that you don't follow it too closely. Kona Coast stars Richard Boone (Have Gun, Will Travel) as crusty old Hawaiian fisherman Sam Moran whose daughter washes up OD'd on the beach. Forget the cops, Sam's gonna deal with the lily-livered punk who got his kid strung out. Unfortunately, his own boat is torched when he gets too close, critically injuring an old fisherman buddy of his. Now this old guy wants to die at home "Take me to Kona, Sam..." Using his buddy's crew of three young, distrustful hippie types,including a girl, who seem to be as surly as he is, Sam takes his friend, and his friends' boat to Kona Coast, which is kind of like the Long Beach of the islands; dirty, but people still party. Sam is enough of a thorn in the side of the new luau/drug king to get the guy's attention as he sends his thugs numerous times to mess him over. Sam Moran, it seems, makes friends easily, and enemies three times easier than that! I think it's because he takes a certain percentage of lip off of people. What's the percentage? Well, i'm not sure i got it exactly, but i think it's pretty near...ZERO, my friend. You cross this guy, he hurts your ass. No freakin' joke. He'll slap you, punch you, spank you and sometimes when he's telling you how worthless you are, you can FEEEL the booze on his breath. I have loved this film ever since i was a kid and i think that's one of the aspects i liked about it. He said what he meant, dam the consequences. Some jackass strung his daughter out and killed her. And this same jackass was now screwin' with him. Something definately has to give, and it does. When this baddie (played with comic evil flair by Steve Inhat)gets his, it just plays right. It's raw, it's real, and it makes us all feel better. Joan Blondell plays the sister of Sam's dead friend. I didn't like her in the movie as Sam's friend was from Australia with this thick as syrup accent and his sister was from Queens or something. Whatever. I did like Sam's love interest played by an actress whose name i can't remember. She whined a lot but i think i had a crush on her anyway. Nice hair. This movie is unavailable on video and will probably always be. A shame. It was VERRRY 60's and VERRRY islandy. If you have a copy of it or more info, write.
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Perhaps the worst film I've ever seen
JCR-411 February 2004
Just happened to wake up at 3am last night and went to watch satellite TV to try and get back to sleep and this came on. This film was so bad that it was compelling viewing and as a result I couldn't get back to sleep!

A quite poor script, and dreadful acting by ALL concerned, but worst of all was the plot which has been explained by previous posters so I won't repeat it here. The film attempts to potray emotion and dignity and utterly fails - not even the funeral of one of the main characters made you care. The characters are completely devoid of any depth or meaning, and you really don't give a damn about what happens to any of them.
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Joseph Lashelle
boblipton26 August 2011
This unsold pilot screams "Bad 1960s TV" from the short-skirted, beehive-haired go-go dancers to the music track, which sounds like a collection of stings pulled out of the library for the NBC Mystery Movies ("Columbo", "MacCloud" and "MacMillan and Wife"). It probably was proposed for the package. Based on these criteria, you shouldn't bother.

However the main cast goes through its paces as if they are doing something real and the Director of Photography, Joseph Lashelle, offers us many a dazzling image shot in gorgeous Technicolor. Is the sky anywhere that brilliant a blue? My advice is to turn off the sound and enjoy the pretty pictures.
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moonspinner5525 August 2011
Cheapjack theatrical production, filmed on Hawaiian locales, is underwritten and over-directed, with a camp-psychedelic opening that matches nothing else in the picture! Richard Boone plays a transportation skipper in Honolulu, searching for the persons responsible for making his estranged daughter a junkie and then dumping her body in the drink. Since the viewer is made well aware of what happened to the unfortunate girl, this amateur-detective melodrama offers not a hint mystery, only 'local color' and some stray brutality (and a gay-bitch villain). Executive produced by Boone, from John D. MacDonald's story (the uncredited "Bimini Gal"), though resembling nothing more than a failed TV-pilot. Supporting cast is extremely weak, with Kent Smith particularly tough to accept as a bearded tavern owner in a hep straw hat. * from ****
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I've loved a man since you! I even married him! And then he killed himself!
sol121826 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Beautiful Hawaiian photography doesn't hide the fact that the film "Kona Coast" is a dud or coconut with the coconut juice drained out of it. Richard Boone is the salty hard drinking and living Sam "The Man" Moran who takes it, life, as it comes without as much as complaining about how both good or bad it is. That's until his estranged teenage daughter Dee, Gloria Nakea, is found washed up on the rocks dead of a drug overdose. Even though Dee had no use for him, he deserted her and her mother when she was an infant, Sam made it his business to track down the drug dealer who doped her up and make him pay what what he did.

The story gets a bit lost when Sam's fishing boat is set on fire by playboy and drug pusher Kayder's, Steve Ihnat, thugs with his good friend Charlie Lightfoot, Chips Rafferty, ending up on his death bed in trying to put the flames out. Sam is given Charlie's own fishing boat the Kamai by his former alcoholic wife Kittibelle, Joan Blondell, to use as he wants until his damaged boat is repaired. We then have Sam spends almost the next half hour of running time,in the movie, to both wait for the near dead Charlie, who refuses to stay dead, to finally kick off and then give him a grand Hawaiian send-off at sea with about 20 of Charlie's friends being invited. If anything this great and boring event added enough time to the movie to qualify it to be, by being over 60 minutes in length, a made TV movie not a 45 minute episode, with commercials cut out, of Hawaii 5 O'.

Sam meanwhile gets battered around by Kaydea's goons to keep him from finding out the truth about not only who killed his daughter Dee but who's the top drug pusher on the island, Kaydea, and why he's immune from the local police. It's either because he's paying them off or their so stupid that they couldn't find a haystack in a needle instead the other way around. We do get a glimpse of Sam's shoddy past when he runs into at a local Kona bar an old flame of his Melissa Hyde, Vera Miles. Messila we learn is a recovering alcoholic who was brought back to sobriety at Kittibelle's free alcohol rehabilitation center on the island that's one of it's biggest tourist, who make up eh majority of those in it, attractions. Again were treated to what a heel Sam is by Missila digging up his past which is about as interesting as watching a blinding snowstorm in the Arctic Circle in total darkness!

***SPOILERS*** Finally and mercifully the movie comes to an end with the big shown-down between Sam "The Man" Moran & friends and the Kayder bumbling drug gang at the big rumble in the pineapple patch on and along the Kona Coast. As you would have expected Kayder and his boys were no match against Sam & Co. who ended up making pineapple preserve out of them. As well as making it possible with no worlds left for Sam & Co.to conquer, or roast pork and pineapples to eat, for the movie to finally come to an end.
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Relentlessly bad.
MattyGibbs14 February 2015
A man tries to bring the people responsible for his daughters death to justice.

Kona Coast starts badly and just gets worse. Underpinning the whole sorry mess is Richard Boone a thoroughly unlikeable lead who spends a fair proportion of the movie dressed in an alarming yellow jacket and shorts. I have rarely seen as shockingly bad a lead performance as the one dished up by Boone in this film.

An incredibly lousy script, pathetic dialogue, an appalling soundtrack and shockingly lame unbelievable characters are just a few of the flaws hurled at the poor unsuspecting viewer.

I've seen a lot of films and rarely give a film 1/10 but this mess has absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. How I managed to sit through the full running time is anyone's guess. How this appalling garbage currently has a rating of 4.9 (76 votes) is a cause for concern.

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