Thursday, June 11, 2015


Set in the Caribbean, this film begins with a priest giving us some plot exposition via a melodramatic eulogy for sailor Robert Christopher who was declared dead when his ship, the Cloud, vanished mysteriously at sea. His older son Mark (Jeff Richards, at left) has returned to the islands to help his younger brother Dean (Richard Chamberlain) get to the bottom of the situation, as much-needed insurance money is being withheld. The brothers talk to Tom Webber (Peter Falk), an unsavory troublemaker who was the last person to see Christopher alive; Tom's own ship, the Dagger, foundered at Purple Reef and the Cloud picked he and his men up and dropped them off on shore, never to be seen again. At least that's the story Tom tells; Mark and Dean don't quite believe him, and, along with old family friend Tobias (Robert Earl Jones, father of James Earl), the more they start digging, the more they become sure that foul play was involved.

Just after I discovered the charms of 50s B-actor Jeff Richards in ISLAND OF LOST WOMEN, this movie appeared on Fox Movie Channel so I felt compelled to watch it, even though it was a widescreen film that Fox aired in a typically awful pan-and-scanned version. The film itself is no great shakes, though it's watchable—faint praise, indeed. Frankly, the biggest obstacle to enjoyment is the MST3K "rock climbing" problem (when MST3K ran Lost Continent, they made fun of the lengthy scenes of men climbing rocks, undoubtedly there to pad out the running time); there are endless shots of Richards and Chamberlain buzzing through the Caribbean in a small motorboat. I'm sure the actors had a good time, but I got bored by the second one of these clips, and there are several. Also, as reviewer Dinky4 notes on IMDb, the film wastes the physical assets of the two actors—for a movie set in the Caribbean, it's a bit of a shock that they never take off their shirts, though they get their pants wet a lot. Chamberlain (with Richards at right) has little to do but follow Richards like a puppy dog, so the movie rises and falls with Richards, who is in almost every frame. I enjoyed his presence, but he seems a bit bored with the proceedings. The potential love interest, played by Margia Dean, comes off as a second-rate Suzanne Pleshette; in fact, I frequently wished that Pleshette had been cast, as I'm sure her more passionate performance would have kicked Richards into gear a bit more. British actor Terence de Marney is fine as an old drunk who may hold the key to the mystery. The score is a combination of traditional orchestration and some jaunty steel drum music that sometimes feels inappropriate over some somber scenes. Pretty much for Richards and/or Chamberlain fans only. [FXM]

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