East of Sumatra


1h 22m 1953

Brief Synopsis

Duke Mullane, manager of a Malayan tin mine, goes to a little-known island to open a new mine in the jungle. Initially, the natives there are friendly, especially dancer Minyora...who proves to be affianced to local ruler King Kiang. Alas, a series of unfortunate incidents changes Kiang's attitude to hostility, and Duke is stranded with his crew, Minyora, and his old flame Lory...who's now engaged to his boss! Are romantic triangles more deadly than poisoned darts?

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 11 Sep 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

At a tin mine in Malaya, owner Craig Keith and executive Daniel Catlin arrive just as expert supervisor Duke Mullane is beating up a drunken crew member. Catlin expresses distaste for Duke, but after Keith shows Duke his new assignment--to find tin in the remote mountains of Tungga Island, near Sumatra--he names Catlin as Duke's new boss. Catlin's first decision is to refuse Duke his hefty payment demands, but Keith overrules him. Catlin and Duke travel to the executive's Singapore office, where Catlin's fiancée, Lory Hale, visits and is startled to see Duke, her old lover. After Catlin leaves the room, Lory announces that she now loves only Catlin, and Duke promises roughly not to inform him of their past. Duke's crew then travels to Tungga and, after setting up camp, they are invited by mischievous local Atib to a feast with his tribe's king, Kiang. There, Duke asks for workers to help build the mine and Kiang negotiates for payments in Western medicines. Duke also offers his lighter, which bears an airplane imprint for every fighter he shot down in the war. When Kiang says he cannot accept it, Duke leaves it on the table, where it is stolen by Atib. A gorgeous dancer performs and, though Duke admires her, he soon discovers that she is Kiang's fiancée, Minyora. Kiang notices Duke's interest and, later that night, reveals to Minyora that he cannot live without her. Over the next days, Kiang's men work diligently, and Duke awaits the supplies with which to pay them. When Catlin finally sends a plane, however, it contains only machinery, and Duke calls him in a fury. Soon after, Minyora visits Duke and reveals that she is half English and yearning to speak to white people. Atib spies on them and informs Kiang, who stalks over and throws Duke out. Just as Duke's men discover a rich vein of tin, the next plane arrives, carrying only Catlin and Lory. The next day, Kiang keeps his men from working until the supplies show up, and Catlin chastises Duke for his inability to "handle the natives." They visit Kiang together, but when Minyora sticks up for Duke, an infuriated Kiang refuses to work with the white men at all. That night, Lory visits Duke, but the two end up quarrelling over their past. Hours later, a drunken Atib accidentally sets fire to the tribe's supply hut with Duke's lighter. When Kiang finds the lighter in the ashes, he announces to Duke and Catlin that he has burned their plane, trapping them in the jungle, and will surround their camp until they starve to death. Over the next days, every attempt to gather food and water is thwarted by Kiang's warriors. One night, as Duke keeps watch, Minyora sneaks in and informs him of a temple high in the mountains in which they can be safe. When Duke tries to find it, Kiang sees him and forces him to return to the camp. Duke turns to alcohol, and is drunk when one night he grabs Lory and kisses her and then, later, allows Minyora to visit him. The two fall asleep, and when she leaves the next morning, Atib sees her. Within minutes, she races back to warn the camp that Kiang, furious with her supposed infidelity, is on his way to kill them all. She leads them to the temple, followed closely by Kiang's men. Two of Duke's crew are killed, and one, Paulo, is shot with a poisoned arrow before they reach the temple, which Kiang dares not infiltrate. Even after Minyora cleanses and cauterizes Paulo's wound, saving him, Duke remains distraught over the deaths of his men and soon decides to sacrifice himself to Kiang. Upon hearing his declaration, Lory reveals that she cannot bear to lose Duke, and Catlin watches in resignation as they kiss. Duke calls to Kiang, who challenges him to duel using machetes and torches. At the end of the long fight, only one machete remains within reach, and Duke grabs it just as Kiang jumps on him. Impaled, Kiang lives only long enough to name a despondent Minyora the new queen. Her first decree is for her people to help Duke's crew. Within days, the mine is working and Catlin bids a fond farewell to Lory, who stays behind with Duke.

Film Details

Release Date
Oct 1953
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 11 Sep 1953
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher


BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001

When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces.

Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade.

Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip.

In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960.

That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it.

Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85.

By Lang Thompson

Tcm Remembers - Budd Boetticher

TCM Remembers - Budd Boetticher

BUDD BOETTICHER 1916-2001 When director Budd Boetticher died on November 29th, American film lost another master. Though not a household name, Boetticher made crisp, tightly wound movies with more substance and emotional depth than was apparent at first glance. Instead of a flashy style, Boetticher preferred one imaginatively simple and almost elegant at times. Because of this approach films like The Tall T (1957), Decision at Sundown (1957), The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951) and Ride Lonesome (1960) have withstood the test of time while more blatantly ambitious films now seem like period pieces. Budd was born Oscar Boetticher in Chicago on July 29th, 1916. With a father who sold hardware, Boetticher didn't come from a particularly artistic background. In college he boxed and played football before graduating and heading to Mexico to follow what's surely one of the most unusual ways to enter the film industry: as a professional matador. That's what led an old friend to get Boetticher hired as a bullfighting advisor on the 1941 version of Blood and Sand. Boetticher quickly took other small jobs in Hollywood before becoming an assistant director for films like Cover Girl. In 1944, he directed his first film, the Boston Blackie entry One Mysterious Night. Boetticher made a series of other B-movies, like the underrated film noir Behind Locked Doors (1948), through the rest of the decade. Boetticher really hit his stride in the 50s when he began to get higher profile assignments, including the semi-autobiographical The Bullfighter and the Lady in 1951 which resulted in Boetticher's only Oscar nomination, for Best Writing. Sam Peckinpah later said he saw the film ten times. Other highlights of this period include Seminole (1953) (one of the first Hollywood films sympathetic to American Indians), the stylishly tight thriller The Killer Is Loose (1956) and the minor classic Horizons West (1952). In the late 50s, Boetticher also started directing TV episodes of series like Maverick and 77 Sunset Strip. In 1956, Boetticher started a string of films that really established his reputation. These six Westerns starring Randolph Scott are known as the Ranown films after the production company named after Randolph Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Actually the first, Seven Men from Now (1956), was produced by a different company but all of them fit together, pushing the idea of the lone cowboy seeking revenge into new territory. The sharp Decision at Sundown twists Western cliche into one of the bleakest endings to slip through the Hollywood gates. The Tall T examines the genre's violent tendencies while Ride Lonesome and Buchanan Rides Alone (1958) have titles appropriate to their Beckett-like stories. The final film, Comanche Station, appeared in 1960. That was the same year Boetticher made one of the best gangster films, The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond, before watching everything fall apart. He and his wife decided to make a documentary about the famous matador Carlos Arruza and headed to Mexico. There Boetticher saw Arruza and much of the film crew die in an accident, almost died himself from an illness, separated from and divorced his wife (Debra Paget), and then spent time in various jails and even briefly a mental institution. This harrowing experience left him bankrupt but he still managed to complete the film, Arruza (1968), which gathered acclaim from the few who've been able to see it. Boetticher managed to make just one more film, My Kingdom For... (1985), a self-reflexive documentary about raising Andalusian horses. He also made a cameo appearance in the Mel Gibson-Kurt Russell suspense thriller, Tequila Sunrise (1988). He died from complications from surgery at the age of 85. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Just think, within slingin' distance of a dead cat, there's millions o' unborn beer cans! Nature sure is wonderful.
- Cowboy

Trivia

Notes

A 12 November 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item announced Gloria Grahame as a cast member, but she did not appear in the film. East of Sumatra marked the first film on which Western author and screenwriter Louis L'Amour received screen credit. Actress Suzan Ball suffered a knee injury during the filming of this picture, which lead to her death from cancer two years later, at the age of twenty-two. For more information, see the entry above for Ball's last film, Chief Crazy Horse.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 1953

Released in United States Fall September 1953