Lady of the Tropics (1939) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
24 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
7/10
Lamarr as tragic beauty Manon
blanche-21 August 2006
Certainly two of the most beautiful stars in films were Hedy Lamarr and Robert Taylor, and here they are together in "Lady of the Tropics," a 1939 film directed by Jack Conway. It's the story of a half-caste named Manon who, as a second class citizen, can't get a passport to leave Saigon. Taylor is a playboy who falls for her; the two marry, incurring the wrath of Manon's sometime boyfriend Delaroch (Joseph Schildkraut).

Made under the Hays code, the ending of the film is obvious and inevitable; also, it closely follows the story of Manon Lescaut, told twice in opera, once by Puccini and once by Massenet. There's a scene from the Puccini version in the film.

The film is beautifully photographed. Lamarr has a lovely, tender quality as Manon, and she is stunning in her Adrian gowns and hats. Taylor has a role similar to his Alfred in Camille, and he does it well, resplendent in his white suit and brilliant smile. One of the posts suggested Francis Lederer in the role. Lederer was a handsome and wonderful actor, very romantic, and would have brought a more exotic persona to the part. I admit, however, to liking the rugged, earthy, American quality Taylor brings, as the character should be truly out of his element in Saigon. This makes Manon's inability to get a passport all the sadder and more desperate.

Joseph Schildkraut was a master at portraying the kind of evil manipulator he did as Laroch, so while his Oriental makeup is a little disconcerting, his performance isn't.

A lovely film. Too bad about the code.
29 out of 29 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Taylor and Lamarr in love despite the racism of others. Wonderful!
mamalv19 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Lady of the Tropics is a wonderful love story that of course ends in tragedy. Robert Taylor is a playboy living of the good graces of many socialite girls and their families. He travels in style to the Orient and comes across Manon (Hedy Lamarr) who is a half-caste, being born to a French father and an island woman. She wants to go to Paris so she can live in a white world. Her benefactor is Pierre DeLaroch (Joseph Schildkraut) who wants her to marry him. She turns on him and marries Bill Carey. It is one terrible incident after the other, until finally she goes to Pierre to ask his help to get Bill a job. She must be with him to accomplish this, and then he will send Bill away for work. Bill returns, and finds out what she has done, and vows to kill Pierre. She gets to him first, kills him to save Bill and then shoots herself thinking Bill hates her. Bill finds that she has killed DeLaroch, and looks for her finding that she is dying. He loves her still and she dies in his arms. A very sad love story. The film was ahead of its time, and critics blasted it. However today it is quite well thought of, if only because it shows how prejudice can ruin even true love. Taylor and Lamarr are beautiful, the film is great.
20 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Hedy's sultry beauty matched against Taylor's good looks...
Doylenf4 April 2008
With a script by Ben Hecht, LADY OF THE TROPICS is a film that recalled another Hedy Lamarr film--at least the title does--called "A Lady Without Passport"--a wretched film she made in 1950. Here too, she's a lady without passport and that's what triggers the entire plot. But it must be said that the comparison between the two films ends with the title.

This is strictly old-fashioned melodrama reeking of either "Manon Lescaut" or "Madame Butterfly", with Hedy as the ill-fated heroine who allows herself to be "used" by Joseph SCHILDKRAUT while hiding her indiscretions from her smitten American admirer (ROBERT TAYLOR), who meets her in French Indochina (Saigon) before WWII and immediately falls in love with her. When Schildkraut gets revenge by planting false evidence of his association with Lamarr to open Taylor's eyes to the truth, the consequences turn tragic.

Hedy has never been more beautiful and gives a sensitive performance as Manon (yes, that's her name!), a "lady of the tropics" with a sultry beauty enhanced by her MGM transformation into a stunning star who is always ready for her close-ups. Attired in an equally stunning Adrian wardrobe, she's a glittering testament to the power of Golden Age films to give stars glamor with a capital "G". Taylor, attired in white linen suits and Panama hats must have made female hearts flutter as the romantic hero willing to sacrifice all for his yen for Manon.

It's a better film than I expected. Joseph SCHILDKRAUT makes a perfect villain, the kind you like to hiss, with his Oriental make-up and oily manner oozing menace at every quiet inflection of his voice. The B&W photography of some artfully designed sets is soothing to the eye and so, of course, is the teaming of Lamarr and Taylor--two of the most photogenic stars on the MGM lot.

The script by Ben Hecht helps sustain interest in the storyline, even if it does get a bit too weepy toward the end. Lamarr shows evidence that she could be a very sympathetic heroine if given half a chance.
19 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Great part for the beauty Hedy Lamarr
jlwalker19-122 April 2008
I thought Robert Taylor was very good in Waterloo Bridge. Here, however, he just doesn't produce the chemistry the part should have. He isn't really bad, just in this case rather average.

On the other hand, the rapturously beautiful Hedy Lamarr is so perfectly cast in this role. She handles the language accents so well. This film provides an example that those who say yes she was beautiful but couldn't act, that that just doesn't hold water. Her acting here is really quite perfect for the part. The inner conflict of somehow knowing her fate yet dreaming that things could be different comes out in her subtle facial expressions. And of course she looks perfect in the nice dresses and hats. I could see why Bill was trying everything to stay with her and take her away from there. Oh how it is when an American man falls in love with a foreign beauty. See "Act of Love" starring Kirk Douglas if you can.

The other actors did a fine job in this movie as well. And of course the cinematography won a well-deserved award. How I prefer the black and white movies.

This is really an underrated movie with an underrated actress in the lead. I enjoyed it at least as much as her more famous movies. Sure wish Hedy, parts turned down aside, would have played in more top movies.

If there is one downer about this movie, it is rather sad. But the wonderful Hedy Lamarr singlehandedly makes up for it.
14 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Eurasian beauty in a romantic tragedy
lastliberal3 April 2008
I remember when I was living in Vietnam, I was told that Eurasian women were the most beautiful in the World. The French-Vietnamese women that I saw were indeed exquisite. Hedy Lamarr was perfectly caste as one of these women, and her performance in this film was so romantic that one would want to see it over and over.

This fine film featured Oscar-nominated cinematography, a script by the great Ben Hecht (Wuthering Heights, Notorious, The Scoundrel, Underworld), and Robert Taylor as the leading man.

The story is as old as time and you cannot fail to be moved by the tragedy.
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A beautiful, underrated melodrama
spotted-owl16 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"Lady of the Tropics" (1939) is a romantic melodrama set in Indochina (now Vietnam). Hedy Lamarr gives a sensitive and moving performance as Manon de Vargnes. Lamarr's beautiful face expresses her emotions. Themes include love, racism, power, revenge and personal sacrifice. This is an underrated film.

Manon is a biracial temple dancer whose father was French, and mother was Indochinese. She wants a passport to Paris, but the racist laws do not allow passports to be given to "half-castes." Biracial people are treated as second-class citizens in Indochina, which was a French colony in the 1930s.

Manon is beautiful, sensitive and mysterious, with a Mona Lisa smile. She has a tendency to tell lies to avoid conflicts with men. Manon is romantically pursued by the powerful and unscrupulous businessman Pierre Delaroche (Joseph Schildkraut), who is also biracial. A king in the Angkor Wat jungle wants to add Manon to his harem of wives. However, Manon falls in love with Bill Carey (Robert Taylor), a handsome, kind, and impoverished American.

Pierre Delaroche proposes marriage to Manon, and she lies and says yes. Manon probably lied to avoid offending the very powerful man with a blunt rejection. However, this lie is her fatal flaw. When Pierre finds out that Manon has married Bill, he wants revenge, and prevents Manon from obtaining a passport. Bill is unable to find work, and they struggle to make ends meet.

Manon realizes that the only way to make Bill happy and obtain a passport is to make a deal with with the devious Pierre. She attends Puccini's opera "Manon Lescaut" with Pierre. (The opera is about a woman named Manon, who becomes the mistress of a rich older man, but is forgiven by the man she truly loves.) It is strongly implied that Manon sacrificed her virtue to Pierre. After doing so, Bill is given a job and Manon has her passport. However, Bill finds out about the terrible sacrifice Manon has made for him. The ending is poignant.

The sets and costumes are lavish. The scenes at Angkor Wat are especially beautiful, with the huge lotus bud shaped towers in the background. Temple dancers perform. Manon looks like a goddess in a glittery Indochinese costume. (See a link to this costume in the message board.)

Hedy Lamarr's costumes, designed by Adrian, are gorgeous. She wears beautiful dresses with native embroidery, and veils with beads.

Nina (Gloria Franklin) sings a heartbreaking torch song in the local nightclub.

The film received an Oscar nomination for best black and white cinematography.

"Lady of the Tropics" (1939) has a good storyline, excellent acting, exotic tropical sets, beautiful costumes, and superb cinematography. This is an underrated film, and it should be released on DVD. Highly recommended.

Hedy Lamarr starred in another film with a similar concept, titled "A Lady without Passport" (1950). The 1950 movie is a good film noir. I prefer "Lady of the Tropics" (1939) because it is visually beautiful, romantic, and emotionally poignant.
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Lamarr's Night of Nights
rparisious4 September 2002
Hedy Lamarr was not generally as fortunate in her scripts or her directors as most of the great leading ladies of her day.Yet this now almost forgotten film may ,in fact, be her most perfect vehicle. "Samson and Delilah" appears the only alternative possibility ;still the gentler less garish approach here serves to better accentuate Miss Lamarr's exquisite beauty and muted, perfectly timed, performance.

The part of the half-caste Manon seems written for her (an excellent Ben Hecht script); the photography deserved its Oscar nomination and makes us ask for what do we need technicolor? Furthermore,Lamarr is ably seconded by then newcomer Gloria Franklin as another gentle victim of the Saigon love game.And can Miss Franklin handle a heartbreaking rhythm. Why did America fail to take this delicate chanteuse to its heart?

The main flaw in this work,which otherwise would deserve a nine or ten rating, is the casting of an already hardening Robert Taylor as the enraptured playboy.It is patent,considering the obvious parallels with "Camille, why Taylor was hired. He even goes through some almost identical motions a second time in the death scene here. And that is exactly the problem.Taylor has left romanticism behind him by the time this film was shot. His best notes here are quiet desperation. Francis Lederer would have been great for the role(remember him with Louise Brooks?),but, under the Hollywood casting system ,there was no chance he could have gotten the part.

Flawed as it is, it is flawless Lamarr.And as every romantic believes ,there must still be audiences of unknowing lovers out there who will want to see it again-and again.
26 out of 35 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Fantastic Classic Gem
whpratt14 April 2008
Hedy Lamarr, (Manon DeVargnes Carey) was so beautiful in this film and her acting was outstanding along with Robert Taylor, (William Carey). Bill Carey played the role as a playboy with plenty of money and sails to Saigon and meets Manon in a bar and the two of them fall in love with each other once they look into each other eyes. Bill does not know very much about Manon or the fact that she has a lover named Pierre Delaroch, (Joseph Schildkraut) who lives a very shady life and is up to all kinds of tricks. Pierre becomes jealous once he finds out about Manon falling in love with Bill Carey and makes contact with his friends in the government of Saigon in order not to grant her any visas to the United States or Paris, France. Manon is a lady who tells many lies and is really a very sly and tricky lady when it comes to men or anyone. There is plenty of romance in this film and extremely dramatic situations which face these two lovers. If Hedy Lamarr did not star in this film, I am sure Betty Davis would have done a great job, but never as beautiful. Enjoy.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Vastly Underrated
umbraco-4271910 December 2018
Truly I don't understand the poor reviews of this film.

It's a melodramatic romance in the vein of "Camille" or "Waterloo Bridge." (Both of which also starred Robert Taylor). It is certainly no worse than those, and the overall theme is not that much different.

Hedy Lamarr's role here is very subtly played. She lies and deceives because she doesn't want anyone to be hurt. That is key to understanding her character. Placed in an impossible situation, Manon tries her best to rise above it the only way she knows how. Lamarr captures this struggle magnificently. It's written on her face in so many scenes.

Sometimes I've heard she is "wooden" in this role. Are you kidding? In her scenes with evil Delaroch, she masks her agony with a Mona Lisa smile, trying to reveal nothing. That is acting, folks. Sorry you don't recognize it. Perhaps it is because so many stars of the era regularly chewed the scenery, and in comparison, Lamarr's portrayal is too realistic. It's the only thing I can fathom.

As for Robert Taylor, also a favorite of mine...I think he plays the American playboy perfectly. One of my favorite scenes is where he's trying to buy a "hat" for his heiress girlfriend early in the film. He supplies humor in just the right amounts, and his eventual adoration of Manon is well done, hauntingly.

I have seen this movie probably more than any others of hers, and I never get tired of it.
4 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Essential viewing for all classic movie fans!
JohnHowardReid18 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Although some reviewers disagreed, I thought Jack Conway's direction was very smooth. I also found Robert Taylor's acting reasonably convincing, despite some of the hokey dialogue he was sometimes forced to handle. But the film belongs to sultry Hedy Lamarr who is efficaciously cast in this one as a beautiful half-caste in French Indo-China, whom American playboy Robert Taylor pursues and marries. Costumed by Adrian and strikingly photographed by George Folsey - often in film noir style - Hedy not only looks very young but suitably vulnerable. As noted above, co- star Taylor plays the hero with reasonable conviction, but is creamed in the acting stakes by Joseph Schildkraut who contributes a fascinating study in ego-maniacal cunning and evil. Others worth mentioning in the topflight cast include Mary Taylor – no relation of Robert Taylor. She was a New York model who – between 1936 and 1941 – made only four films (this is the second). She married producer Al Zimbalist in 1952. Despite her intriguing face, fetching figure and great performance here as Dolly Harrison, Mary Taylor was overlooked by reviewers who had eyes only for the dazzling Lamarr. Another in the great support cast that I would single out is Ernest Cossart, who often played priests and authority figures. Here he shoulders the white man's burden – an attitude which is now dated and even abhorrent! But to end this review on a more positive note, watch out for Gloria Franklin (in her second of only eight movies). She sings (or Harriet Cruise dubs) "Each Time You Say Goodbye (I Die a Little)" by Phil Ohman and Foster Carling.
5 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Camille...move over
bruno-3224 August 2000
Warning: Spoilers
Poor Robert Taylor, doesn't seem to have much luck with his leading ladies during that period of the late 30's. First Garbo dies on him and then Hedy. This film is a tribute to the beauty of Hedy Lamarr. She was perfectly cast. The black and white film is outstanding and I understand it won an academy award for its photography.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
***
edwagreen16 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
...And to think, I thought this was a comedy but was I in for a rude awakening.

Playboy Robert Taylor meets Hedy Lamarr in southeast Asia and he forsakes all to wed her, but her half-caste position makes it impossible for her to leave southeast Asia, especially when wealthy businessman Joseph Schildkraut adores her and will stop at nothing to keep her there, even if it meant giving Taylor a job to keep him away for the month.

Praise must go to Adrian for the gowns for Lamarr and for Vallee for keeping Taylor so dapper.

Tragedy intervenes with a murder-suicide by film's end.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Rather pretty to look at, but ultimately completely empty
MartinHafer3 April 2008
Despite a large budget and the usual MGM gloss, this is not a particularly good movie. Perhaps when it debuted in 1939 people knew nothing of Vietnam--this is the only way I can explain the insane casting of the Viennese Hedy Lamar as a woman who is half Vietnamese! Now if the casting of Austrian-born actress in the lead was the only problem, the movie still could have been interesting. However, the film has many more strikes against it--most notably the very, very limited range of the starlet in this film. Much of the time, she utters her lines as if almost half asleep and had practically no emotion to her performance. Part of this might have been because she was relatively new to America or perhaps she needed better direction. All I know is that she was beautiful to look at but rather vacant.

To make things worse, although she is NOT a rich woman in the film, repeatedly she sports gowns that were right out of Vogue magazine--yet she is supposed to live in Vietnam, not Paris. Now the movie seemed to imply she was possibly a prostitute or a mistress--but even then, it seemed silly to have her traipsing around in one glamorous gown after another in a third world nation. One reviewer faulted the problem with the movie to be Robert Taylor's fault--I think it was all Hedy's.

The bottom line is that aside from saying the film was set in Vietnam, you'd never guess it by watching the film. It is instead a sanitized and ridiculous Vietnam as seen by Hollywood.

As for the plot, it's only okay. In many ways it's a bit reminiscent of Robert Taylor's earlier film, CAMILLE, as both are about fated romances. Most audience members will figure out rather quickly that this romance will not end well! So due to predictability, the plot wasn't able to counteract the lousy casting decisions. While I disliked the film, it seems most other reviews were very positive--so who's to say you may not enjoy it.

By the way, just who or what was Joseph Schildkraut supposed to be in the film?! With his silly fake eyelids and lack of any conventional accent, I was left confused. Again, maybe 1930s Hollywood thought it was okay to say pretty much ANYTHING or ANYONE was Vietnamese--after all, who in the audience at the time would have known differently?
13 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
You Bed Them, You Don't Wed Them
bkoganbing4 April 2008
For those who don't realize it the Lady of the Tropics we're referring to is Hedy Lamarr who falls big time for visiting playboy Robert Taylor in Saigon. Of course one look at Hedy Lamarr and his romantic goose is cooked as well. But there's is a forbidden love and sad to say the message in Ben Hecht's screenplay is stick to your own kind.

Lady of the Tropics was shot while Hedy Lamarr was on hiatus from the ill-fated I Take This Woman. Louis B. Mayer nor any of the other movie moguls believed in letting their players sit idly by. So Lady of the Tropics became Lamarr's second film and her only pairing with that other screen beauty Robert Taylor.

Taylor plays a very honorable character here or at least more honorable than most. He's part of a visiting party of tourists off a yacht that lands in Saigon right before World War II starts. As we well know Vietnam was then under that colonial umbrella known as French Indo-China and Saigon was its capital. Among others Taylor is with is his American fiancé Gloria Franklin.

Of course the romantic sparks start the second that Lamarr and Taylor catch sight of each other in that Saigon café. Taylor does an unheard of thing, he breaks it off with Franklin and weds Lamarr post haste.

Sad to say, but implicit is the message that what you do with exotic beauties not 100% Caucasian is bed them don't wed them. But Taylor and Lamarr don't see it that way. As was said by Queen Latifah in the recent Hairspray, they're in for a whole world of stupid.

This was 1939 not 1967 in America. We still had miscegenation laws in most states at the time so the message of sticking to your own kind was in keeping with 1939 mores. This is the exact opposite message the screen would give in 1967 in Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.

Taylor and Lamarr are stunning, no two ways about that. The sets showing tropical Saigon are great and the film did get an Oscar nomination for cinematography. But the story is both melodramatic and thank God, dated.
9 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Beautiful people and photography
drjgardner10 June 2016
You can't go wrong watching a film with two of the most beautiful Hollywood actors of the late 30s – Robert Taylor and Hedy Lamarr in "Lady of the Tropics". Not only do we have these physically gorgeous people the photography in this film is exceptional, an d director Jack Conway was always successful when handling as film whose central character was a woman (e.g., Libeled Lady, Red-Headed Woman, The Girl from Missouri).

Some may find the film a bit slow, though the script by Ben Hecht is certainly adequate. But Hecht and Conway were far better in different genres, so the current film never really rises above the line.
2 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Tropicle Heat
kapelusznik1816 June 2016
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS***Hedy Lamarr rightfully billed as the most beautiful woman in the world is half-cast French Asian belly dancer Manon de Vargnes in this tragic love story about forbidden love and the consequences that goes along with it. That in her getting involved with this good for nothing self admitted playboy or moocher who lives off the women that he romances American party boy Bill Carey played by the devilishly handsome, you can almost see the horns sticking out of his head, Robert Taylor. Carey who's to be hitched up or marry millionairess Dolly Harrison, Mary Taylor, drops her like a hot potato when he laid his eyes on the beautiful Manon at a swanky restaurant in Siagon-French Indo_Chins-while smooching off a free meal that Dolly's parents are treating him to.

Even though already planning to marry rich and also half-breed French/Asian millionaire nobleman Pierre DDelaroch, Joseph Schildkraut, who's really got the hots for her Manon falls heads over heels for the handsome American Bill Carey who never worked a day in his life and doesn't have a penny to his name! We soon find out that Manon is torn between getting a passport to get out of the country that only Pierre, with his money and political connections, can provide her with or marrying the dirt poor but handsome Bill Carey. With whom she can only look forward to a life of living off the charity and kindness, as well as grubbing & scratching, of others! Madly in love and not willing to lose the beautiful Manon to a commoner as well as, what he thinks of him, bum on the street Pierre sets Carey up at first to have a job, the first one in his life, as a rubber inspector of pencil erasers at one of his rubber plantations and then marry Manon while he's out at work-which Carey hates with a passion-in the field.

***SPOILERS**** The tragic ending in this crazy and confusing film has Manon in order to keep the outraged Carey from killing Pierre for taking her away from him by doing the job-shooting to death- on Pierre herself. Manon then shooting herself now peacefully dying in her lover Carey's arms, how touching, and about to breath her last breath has Father Antione,Earnest Cossart, summoned in to give her the last rites before she finally checks out for good. We see in the last few frames of the movie the passport that Pierre the lover that she killed got for Manon is in fact legit not fake which we were, by Pierre, lead on to believe. which Bill Carey was to use to get her out of the country but now totally useless for her! Since the beautiful Manon will never be able to see "The City of Lights" Paris the Eiffel Tower and most of all go sightseeing down the Champs-Elysee which she so long was dying, and in fact did, to do!
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Colonial Soap Opera
rmax3048233 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Robert Taylor whizzes into Saigon with his rich pals and meets wide-eyed, innocent half-caste Hedy Lamarr. The others leave, but Taylor stays behind in his white suit and Panama hat and courts Lamarr, whose mixed racial background makes things difficult for her. For one thing, she can't get a passport. And although Taylor and Lamarr marry and love each other -- well, you can't live on the fruits of love. They run out of money and live in an exotic, run-down hotel so shabby that it resembles the hovel I now live in. Poor Taylor can't find a job either.

Lamarr has a trick or two up her sleeve, so to speak. She was formerly a "friend" of Joseph Schildkraut -- the sinister, and most improbably Vietnamese villain your worst nightmare might incarnate. When Taylor gets drunk and passes out, Lamarr "visits" Schildkraut again. He takes her to the opera, Manon Lescaut, this being one of those movies in which the heavy has class.

Schildkraut juggles circumstances and the unsuspecting Taylor finds himself offered a job at last. But things darken. Evidence emerges suggesting that Lamarr did a "favor" for Schildkraut, perhaps more generous than simply accompanying him to the opera, and that's how this job offer surfaced.

A simple, naive, red-blooded, God-fearing American, true to his principles, Taylor flings Lamarr aside and announces that he's leaving on a ship for America without her. Distraught, Lamarr visits Schildkraut for the last time and shoots him dead. (I can't help imagine the two of them -- Schildkraut and Kiesler -- making jokes in German about their ludicrous Oriental makeup.) Lamarr returns to her squalid hotel and shoots herself somewhere in the body, probably a place that doesn't disfigure her too much. She dies slowly enough for Taylor to return and announce that his earlier renunciation of her was so much rodomontade, that he loves her deeply, and that the two of them are leaving on that ship together. It's only after he tells her this, that he realizes she is dying. "I'll get a doctor!" "No, no. Don't leave me." For the next several minutes, the question hangs in the air: Who will be the first to expire, Lamarr or the viewer? (And this script comes from BEN HECHT, the fedora-wearing, go-to-hell newspaper reporter from Chicago!) I could never get with Robert Taylor (b. Spangler Arlington Borough) either as a man or an actor. He was certainly handsome enough in these early movies, enough so that questions were raised at the time about his having hair on his chest. (His agent produced a photo of a shirtless Taylor to show that he did.) But his features coarsened with age and MGM kept him soldiering on in lower budget pictures for more than a decade. Hedy Lamarr was a stunning beauty, once glamorized by Hollywood's star-making machine. In her first, notorious film, "Ekstase", the teen-aged Hedi Kiesler seemed a little zoftig in her nude scenes, but enormously appealing, even if not yet etherealized.

The set dressing is fine though, jaded as we now are with real location shooting, we can never believe that we are actually in French Indo-China. The photography is professional too.
5 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
This flick is by far and away MGM's top RomCom of 1939 . . .
pixrox124 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
. . . standing heads and tails above their other, grossly over-rated contender, GASHED WITH THE WHIP. While GWTW pussy-foots around the implied biracial backgrounds of "Scarlett's" first two (little-seen) spouses, LADY OF THE TROPICS flouts its title character's miscegenation with pale-face "Bill." Where Ms. O'Hara quakes in her boots while exercising her "stand-your-ground" rights against the Yankee deserter, "Manon" brazenly invades HER target's plantation manor in the middle of his dinner party to shoot him dead. Speaking of "Tara," it looks like a trashy dump compared to the splendors of Manon's Home Temple at Ankgor Wat. Regarding "trash," each and every one of "Scarlett's" suitors is a low-life ruffian rushing down the one-way Road to Perdition, while Manon has her pick of International Princes and Playboys. LADY OF THE TROPICS packs in TWICE as much romance, witty dialog, and heartbreak as its racist competitor, even though it's less than HALF as long, and was made for a tiny fraction of GWTW's budget. So, if you have time for only ONE 1939 MGM film (besides THE WIZARD OF OZ, of course), be sure to select LADY OF THE TROPICS rather than being lured down the deplorably racist GWTW rat hole.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Hollywood preposterous mish-mash of "asia"
deschreiber21 February 2019
Supposedly set in Saigon, Vietnam, yet the dancing scene at the temple was from Bangkok, Thailand. When Robert Taylor struggles to communicate with a shopkeeper, he tries to make her understand 'god' by saying 'Allah'. Was Hollywood really as stupid as all that, or did it just not give a damn?

Hedy Lamar is pretty, though.
2 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Silly Hollywood Mixed Up Fantasy Nonsense
VimalaNowlis11 August 2016
It is not only nonsense, it's very silly nonsense. But rather pretty visually mainly because of Heddy Lamar and Robert Taylor.

It's a typical Hollywood fantasy of the "Orient". The city was supposed to be Saigon but the background, the temple, and the dancers were of Bangkok. And her clothes were not even Asian, they were Moroccan and some outlandish Hollywood creation. But, for Hollywood, anything beyond the white world are interchangeable and we frequently see Vietnamese play Chinese and Chinese play Japanese and vice versa or white people play Asian. Even Marlon Brando couldn't escape such ridiculousness. Time has not changed Hollywood much. Now it's black people popping up everywhere no matter what the story, the genre, or the time and place to continue the silly ridiculous nonsense.

Nominated for 1 "Oscar"? The standard must be very low back then.
2 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
No Miscegenation
ivan-2213 August 2002
Was Ben Hecht a damnable racist, or does it merely seem so? The fact that this frankly racist film doesn't shock our sensibilities maybe due to its not being that much outside of the norm. Hollywood has been called leftist, but no miscegenation is allowed, not even after the war. And all participants in this charade pretend to have creative freedom, or to desire it. This film could well have been called "No Miscegenation!" at a time when someone else in Europe was crying "No Miscegenation!" Congratulations Hollywood!
5 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
3/10
Should have been the Dragon Lady
bomboogie11 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie for the first time yesterday [08/10/2016] and thought it was a turkey. Maybe it was just me, but a lot of the other reviewers apparently felt the same way.

I was 40 minutes into the film when the thought came to me, "Where are we going with all this?" Things got a little more complicated when Lamarr's character ended up engaged to three men at the same time: one arranged, a second coerced, and the third willingly to Robert Taylor's character, whom she did marry. We never got to see the prince she was supposed to marry per the arrangement.

Lamarr's character got a little giddy at times, something seemingly out of her part and detracting from the serious nature of the story. Given the title, Miss Lamarr, and the setting, I would think her character would have been more of the Dragon Lady type; but then again, that's just me. Someone posted that she wasn't too selective of her films, with which I am inclined to agree. Others thought perhaps the audiences of the late thirties were not as sophisticated, but there were some very good films that came out of that era, so there is no excuse for a turkey with high-powered talent.
1 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
2/10
Robert Taylor and Hedy Lamarr
marthawilcox18312 July 2014
You would have thought that with such a good cast this would be a good film. It is actually a poorly scripted film with poor direction. The performances are good, but the characters aren't believable. Hedy Lamarr may have a convincing French accent, but I don't believe that she is half- Chinese. She doesn't look or sound Chinese in any way. If anything, she looks and sounds French. The film fails to explore the whole issue of inter-racial relationships. Instead, it focuses on citizenship and how you can marry to gain citizenship in America. This is a theme that Lamarr would explore more convincingly in 'Come Live With Me' with James Stewart. However, this film comes nowhere near the quality of 'Come Live With Me'.
1 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed