Hell Ship Mutiny (1957)
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When the film begins, Captain Knight (Hall) arrives on an island only to discover that all the locals have been taken prisoner and are being used as slaves to do some incredibly deep dives for pears. Many of the folks die as a result and the evil Malone (John Carradine) couldn't care less. Fortunately, the Captain is able to escape and ends up taking these jerks prisoner. What ISN'T so fortunate is that after taking them aboard the ship so that he can take them to prison, they break loose and commandeer the ship. Can the Captain break free once again and save himself and the crew from these thugs? And, if he does, will his problems be over or will a new one be waiting for him when he lands the boat?
You know a film isn't all it's cracked up to be when the Captain has a pet chimp named 'Salty'. Salty's adorable in his little sailor costume but really unnecessary and silly. But the rest of the film isn't terrible. It's not really good because the writer had the baddies escape THREE times...and I would have just thought the Captain would have killed them before this! Not terrible as a time- passer but not much more. And certainly NOTHING like Hall's films with Universal.
** (out of 4)
A Captain (Jon Hall) travels to a tropical island to see some friends when he learns that three bad men (led by John Carradine) are holding the natives hostage. Hall's team are able to take them over and on the boat back to the main land they escape and take Hall hostage. This here has been a film I've been meaning to watch for over fifteen years but could never locate it on video and I didn't even realize until a week ago that budget label Alpha had released it on DVD. This was a Republic film so it's doubtful the Alpha release is too official but at least it's finally out there. The movie wasn't as bad as I had heard and even though it's not that good I'd still recommend it to fans of Carradine and Peter Lorre who has a brief role at the end of the film. The production values are incredibly low and that takes away quite a bit. It appears very little thought went into anything and it's rather shocking to see Carradine and Lorre in the film. Both men certainly did low budget movies but this one here is pretty low and it was surprising that the producers got both of them. Perhaps their salaries ate away at the rest of the film? Either way, both men are a lot of fun and especially Carradine as the bad guy. Hall plays everything pretty much by the numbers but he isn't too bad. With a running time of 66-minutes there's really nothing too boring here as long as you know what you're getting into.
Jon Hall plays the captain of a small ship in the South Seas that gets involved with trouble natives are having with a band of gunmen (led by John Carridine) who have enslaved the natives for dangerous and deadly pearl diving. Things will go from bad to worse when the captain tries to transport the captured gunmen to the authorities in Tahiti.
The thing about 55 to 65 minute B-movies by Republic and others is that yes they're made on the cheap but they involve the viewers' interest. Compare "Hell Ship Mutiny" in its current condition, faded and using "best available surviving materials" with the bloated, loud and idiotic movies of 2010 ("Inception" for example) and I'd give my thumbs up to the well-made B-movie. I scored "Inception" at 2/10 but truly it wasn't that good.
It's a pilot for a new series after Hall's moderately successful RAMAR OF THE JUNGLE ceased production, and it's as corny as it sounds. It has the saving grace of some nice casting in the villainous department: not only Carradine and Mazurki, but Peter Lorre. Apparently the TV execituves were as unimpssed as I, so Hall -- who also produced the show -- released it to theaters.
The plot surrounds a Polynesian island where villainous pirates (lead by John Carradine and Mike Mazurki) force the natives to dive for pearls. They are soon arrested by the college graduate half Polynesian Hall, prepared to be sent to Tahiti for trial, and manage to gain control of the ship. But some clever manipulations have the villains becoming at odds which results in their re-capture and trial where the judge is none other than Peter Lorre. Roberta Haynes is the very American Polynesian girl who stows away on Hall's ship, and a cute little chimp also aids Hall as well. In addition to the obviously Caucasian Haynes, there is very Caucasian version of Sabu to appeal to the youthful audience this was obviously aimed for. Considering the year this was made, it seems rather dated, but in retrospective for what it offers, it is escapist entertainment that provides nothing but 67 minutes of satisfactory thrills and a taste for popcorn.
Jon Hall stars in Hell Ship Mutiny and he plays a South Seas schooner captain who on stopping at one of the islands on his course finds the people enslaved by some real bottom feeding pearl hunters. Told that the pearls to be found are way too deep for humans to be diving without benefit of equipment, the villains John Carradine, Mike Mazurki, and Michael Barrett. They dive until they die, one way or another.
In the short slightly over an hour the tables turn many times for the good and the bad guys. Hall has a romantic interest in Polynesian princess Roberta Haynes and Peter Lorre overacts outrageously as a greedy French commissioner.
Hall who was previously Ramar Of The Jungle probably saw this as a possible television pilot for himself. As we know that didn't work out.
It's almost impossible to make a bad looking film in the South Seas, but Republic managed to do it with cheap sets, bad lighting that's great for a noir film, but not for an outdoor adventure. And all done on Republic's back lot.
In another year Yates gave up the ghost, but I suspect in those last years Republic turned out a lot of cheap films like Hell Ship Mutiny.
Even Jon's old man Felix Locher who plays the island's, Timatunge, wise old native Chief King Parea couldn't keep the movie from sinking under the waves. It was only both actor Peter Lorre as the island's French Commissioner Lamoret and the mischievous chimp Salty, Capt. Knight's third mate, that made the film worth watching. This was with Lamoret & Salty interacting in a combination Abbot & Costello and King Solomon routine about a native who stole his neighbor's wife because she trapped cooked and ate a wild pig for him that, with Salty stealing the commissioner's thunder, brought the house down.
The movie has this trio of modern day pirates Malone Ross & Pinky, John Carradine Mike Mazurki & Michael Barrett,force the peaceful and fun loving Timatunge islanders to dive under the sea to retrieve dozens of precious pearls for them. This leads to almost the entire island's male population drowning in their failed attempt to retrieve the elusive, buried under the seabed, pearls. It's when Capt. Knight and his crew showed up unexpectedly and are taken prisoners that he being part Polynesian himself, and an expert scuba diver, was forced by Malone to dive under the sea, to depths of over 100 feet, to retrieve the pearl himself.
We have Capt. Knight escape his kidnappers only to get caught again together with King Parea's beautiful daughter the island Princess Mareva, Roberta Haynes, and forced to take them, on Capt. Knight's ship the Tahiti Star, to far off New Zealand. This leads to all kinds of complications for the three pirates by Capt. Knight tricking them by going the opposite direction, thats going East instead of West, back to Timatunge.
Despite the two pirates Malone & Ross, Pinky had since departed the scene, being arrested they still manage to escape to give the movie some 20 extra minutes of running time. That turned out to be about the most exciting part in the film with Capt. Knight going into action by going underwater where his native, or Polynesian, talents came in handy.
P.S Incidentally both Jon Hall and his dad Felix Locher were not playing against type in their roles of part Polynesian or Tahitian Capt, Knight and Polynesian native Chief Parea in the fact that they in real life are of Polynesian background themselves! With Jon Hall's mother, Locher's wife, being a real-life Tahitian princess.