Mill Creek Musings: Love Island (1952)

Lieutenant Richard Taber (Paul Valentine) is a US Navy pilot who miraculously survived a crash-landing on an island in the South Pacific. The name of the island that he lands on translate to “love island” in English, and sure enough he gets himself into some romantic complications during his four-day stay before being rescued.

(Image via Highwire)
(Image via Highwire)

Richard befriends a beautiful woman named Sarna (Eva Gabor), the first person to find him after he lands. A jealous, older man named Uraka (Malcolm Lee Beggs) doesn’t like the fact that Sarna has befriended the American pilot, and he cooks up a plot to force Sarna into a marriage before she can find love with Richard.

“If you saw it in a movie, you wouldn’t believe it,” Taber tells his Navy buddy of his time on Love Island. This film was directed by Bud Pollard and released in 1952.

Love Island appears in Mill Creek’s Nifty Fifties 50-movie set. The picture quality is peppered with grain, and at times is a bit washed out and fuzzy. The sound quality is decent. Not horrible for a public domain film, but not one of the best in the sets either.

In terms of content and story quality, Love Island can claim the “horrible” title. Paul Valentine and Eva Gabor make a nice pair, but their chemistry is just about the only thing that floats this film.

Love Island is full of small-time Hollywood actors playing “native” islanders, with stereotypical broken English and “unusual” marriage customs. Some stock footage appears to be used for traditional Balinese dance sequences, which would be great if our ol’ pal Richard didn’t react to these sequences by calling the dance “quite a shindig” or asking if the people are holding “an old-fashioned prayer meeting.” (Richard is clearly and inexperienced and disrespectful traveler.)

The film relies far too much on the otherness other islanders in attempt to make the story more interesting than it is. Without these elements, the plot is incredibly light, stretched thin even to reach the brief 61-minute run time. (Apparently the original run time was 66 minutes — even worse!) With these elements, the plot is still incredibly light, but at least evokes a stronger response (disgust) from the viewer. The score: 0.5/5

 

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