Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Outcast of the Islands

Carol Reed, 1951, bw (9.0*)
One of the best adaptations of any Joseph Conrad novel, this is from his Almayer series, about a British merchant (Robert Morley) on a Malayan island paradise. In this tale, an unscrupulous white trader, Trevor Howard, falls in love with a beautiful native islander and basically sells his soul for money so he can entire her away. I and many others think that Howard gave his best performance here, as a weak anti-hero, but really as a typical, self-serving individual.

A terrific cast of veteran British actors includes (along with Morley and Howard), Ralph Richardson, Wilfred Hyde-White, and Wendy Hiller. Conrad had a way of using real action to explore and reveal the depths of one’s character (or a group), such as in this, Heart of Darkness, and The Nigger of the Narcissus. This was one of my favorite novels of his and Reed has done it justice.

There are some haunting images in this that one will never forget, especially some shot in a torrential tropical rainstorm. I would say this is a a must-see, overlooked classic, perhaps Reed’s best film. It received two BAFTA nominations, for best film and best British film.

This is an unjustly overlooked film, and has only been rated by 300 people at IMDB, while dumb, sophmoric comedies have over a hundred thousand. It's due to be released on DVD in 2012. Look for it.

Mostly noted for the noirish The Third man (1949, bw), Reed also directed the Oscar®-winning best picture Oliver! (1967), the musical based on Dickens’ novel, which was a birarre concept but it worked, except for a lead actor who couldn’t sing a lick, but Oscar-nominee Jack Wild was super as Artful Dodger, which led to his own tv show for kids, appropriately named H. R. Puff-n-Stuff. I recently reviewed Reed’s suspense thriller Odd Man Out (1947), with IRA gunman James Mason on the lam.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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