White shadows in the South Pacific

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This unique drama, filmed on location in Tahiti and combining documentary sensitivity with great Hollywood storytelling, examines the consequences of western “civilization” – drugs, alcohol, prostitution – for the indigenous people of a Polynesian island. Matthew Lloyd (Monte Blue) has given up a respectable career as a doctor and lives mediocre on a Polynesian island where pearl dealer Sebastian (Robert Anderson) and his staff ruthlessly exploit the natives who work for them as divers. After Matthew falls in love with a local girl (Raquel Torres) and witnesses the appalling consequences of modern life for the local population, he vehemently condemns Sebastian’s greed and ruthlessness, but meets with serious resistance. The film is one of the first to use sound. It won an Oscar for best camera. Based on the novel by Frederick O’Brien.

By W.S. Van Dyke

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