Cast & Crew
Capt. Sam Moran, skipper of a Honolulu fishing boat, receives an urgent phone call for help from his teenaged halfcaste daughter, Dee, but she is found dead on the beach before he can reach her. Sam begins making inquiries in an attempt to track down the murderer. As a result, he is beaten by the henchmen of Kryder, the playboy who introduced Dee to narcotics and then had her killed. Kryder's men burn Sam's boat, thus causing Sam's good friend Charlie Lightfoot to be severely burned while trying to save it. Sam takes the dying Lightfoot back to his Kona home and agrees to help provide additional income for his friend's sister, Kittibelle, by training her nephew Tigercat to operate Lightfoot's boat. Kittibelle needs the money to support a run-down resort she operates for the rehabilitation of alcoholics. Among Kittibelle's reformed drinkers is Melissa Hyde, an ex-marine biologist who once was Sam's girl friend. Kryder orders a big luau prepared at Kittibelle's resort and makes plans to kill Sam at the party. Meanwhile, Sam forces one of Kryder's henchmen to confess his boss's part in Dee's murder. He then pursues Kryder and his thugs at the luau and eventually shoots Kryder in the shoulder with a harpoon gun. The police arrest Kryder and his men, and Sam and Melissa decide to make a fresh start together.
Sam Kapu Jr.
William R. Finnegan
Mgm Title Dept.
Burdick S. Trask
The screenplay, drawn from the John D. MacDonald short story Bimini Gal, cast the craggy Boone as Honolulu charter boat skipper Sam Moran, who finds himself shaken by a brief, taunting phone call from his estranged party girl daughter Dee Carroll (Gloria Nakea), who's taken the time to ring at a slow moment during a heroin-fueled orgy thrown by the degenerate playboy Kryder (Stephen Ihnat). Sam's determined rousting of the Kryder compound the following day uncovers nothing, and Dee's drowned form is subsequently found beachside. Sam's redoubled hunt through the city for the truth draws a violent response from Kryder, as his thugs jump the seaman in the street and torch his boat. Worse still, Sam's dockside neighbor, the Aussie skipper Charlie Lightfoot (Chips Rafferty), sustains mortal injuries trying to fight the blaze. The dying Lightfoot exhorts Sam to pilot his ship and crew and ferry him to his home in Kona.
Moran obliges, and the sad party is met ashore by Charlie's sister Kittibelle (Joan Blondell), a recovering alcoholic running a rehab retreat, and who'd been dependent upon her half-interest in her brother's charter business to keep her refuge afloat. Amongst her current clientele is the marine biologist Melissa Hyde (Vera Miles), with whom Sam happens to share a romantic past. Charlie makes a deathbed bequest of his share to Moran, who's not appreciative of this hindrance to his vengeance quest. Kryder, for his part, remains ready to take the fight to his hunter, going as far as to book Kittibelle's for a ostensible luau and a trap for the implacable Moran.
Beyond one-time, all-purpose RKO "B" lead actor Kent Smith as the sage barkeep-troubleshooter, Kona Coast is otherwise populated with local Hawaiian actors, the odd exception being pioneering rock guitarist Duane Eddy as Charlie's nephew "Tiger Cat." Veteran TV director (and co-producer) Lamont Johnson does a competent if not very inspired job of keeping a less than trim script moving along, and cinematographer Joseph LaShelle's capturing of the locales stands as the film's primary virtue.
Cast as the sister of the Antipodean screen veteran Rafferty, Blondell's effort at an Ozzie accent is roughly as sustained as that of the wait staff at your local Outback Steakhouse; still, she vests the performance with the trademarked feistiness that had served her well since her heyday on the Warner lot of the '30s. Nods for the best performance goes to Ihnat, the one veteran who seemingly didn't show up primarily for the check and the sunshine. The Czech emigre's effort was in line with the gallery of flavorfully limned villains that he regularly delivered for TV audiences of the '60s in such series as Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Mission: Impossible, Bonanza, The F.B.I. and many, many others. Sadly, this able and charismatic character player was only 37 when he was felled by a heart attack in 1972.
More proof that things happen for a reason: had Kona Coast been picked up as a series, Joan Blondell would have missed out on her two-season stint on ABC's Here Come the Brides (1968-70) that garnered her a pair of Emmy nominations.
Producers: Richard Boone, Lamont Johnson
Director: Lamont Johnson
Screenplay: Gilbert Ralston; John D. MacDonald (story)
Cinematography: Joseph LaShelle
Music: Jack Marshall
Film Editing: Alec McCrombie
Cast: Richard Boone (Capt. Sam Moran), Vera Miles (Melissa Hyde), Joan Blondell (Kittibelle Lightfoot), Steve Ihnat (Kryder), Chips Rafferty (Charlie Lightfoot), Kent Smith (Akamai), Sam Kapu, Jr. (Kimo), Gina Villines (Mim Lowry), Duane Eddy (Tiger Cat), Scott Thomas (Tate Packer).
by Jay S. Steinberg
Filmed on location in Hawaii.