Cast & Crew
C. Aubrey Smith
On a beautiful day in the South Pacific, the inhabitants of the island of Manukura welcome Captain Nagle's arriving schooner. One of the passengers is Germaine, the wife of the island's governor, Eugene DeLaage, who is a strict believer in law and order. Also aboard is the first mate, Terangi, who is to marry Chief Mehevi's lovely daughter Marama that day. The DeLaages, Nagle and Dr. Kersaint attend the wedding, which is presided over by Father Paul. After a brief honeymoon with Marama on the nearby uninhabited island of Motu Tonga, Terangi returns to his ship as it sails for Tahiti. In Tahiti, Terangi and his friends go to a local bar, where an antagonistic white man provokes Terangi into fighting with him. After Terangi breaks the man's jaw, he is sentenced to six months in jail, despite Nagle's assertions that Terangi acted in self-defense. Nagle explains to the Tahitian governor that six months in jail to a Manukuran native is a death sentence, but the governor states that the injured man has powerful friends and Terangi therefore must serve his time. While he is working with a hard labor crew, Terangi sees the ship departing and tries to swim out to it. He is captured, however, and the escape attempt adds a year to his sentence. Despite the urgings of Nagle, Kersaint, Father Paul and Germaine, DeLaage refuses to help Terangi, saying that he must not undermine the law's authority. Marama, who is pregnant, takes the news badly and refuses to be comforted. As eight years pass, Terangi suffers many hardships and repeatedly tries to escape, until finally sixteen years have been added to his sentence. DeLaage coldly refuses to help Terangi and is severely reproached again by Germaine and the others. One day, Terangi attempts to hang himself, and when a guard interferes, Terangi succeeds in escaping, although he unintentionally kills the guard. In a grueling journey, Terangi travels the six hundred miles to Manukura in a canoe. He is picked up by Father Paul, who arranges for Terangi to meet Marama at Motu Tonga. There Terangi also meets his daughter Tita for the first time. Meanwhile, DeLaage has received news of Terangi's escape and angrily begins to search for him. Despite the growing winds, DeLaage commanders Nagle's schooner to carry out the search. Realizing that the winds are the beginnings of a hurricane, Terangi brings his family back to Manukura for safety. The island's inhabitants frantically seek protection, and while Kersaint delivers a baby in a boat, Father Paul and the faithful pray in the church. Soon the savage hurricane rips through the island and huge waves destroy the church. Terangi has tied Marama, Tita, Germaine and himself to a giant tree, but the violence of the storm uproots the tree and deposits it on a distant spit of land. The next morning, Kersaint and the inhabitants of his boat are among the few survivors, and a frantic DeLaage returns in the schooner, which weathered the storm out at sea. He sets off again in search of Germaine, and Terangi lights a signal fire to alert the schooner. As it approaches, Germaine urges him to escape before DeLaage sees him. The little family sets off in a canoe, and after DeLaage joyfully embraces his wife, he notices their footprints in the sand. He then sees the canoe, but Germaine insists that it is merely a floating log. Realizing that Terangi saved his wife, DeLaage agrees with her and lets Terangi and his family sail to a new life.
C. Aubrey Smith
Kuulei De Clercq
Layne Tom Jr.
R. O. Binger
Oliver H. P. Garrett
R. T. Layton
Best Supporting Actor
The Hurricane (1937)
Based on Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's novel which was first serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, the narrative follows Terangi (Jon Hall), a native of the French-occupied island of Manakoora. When he is goaded into a fight with a white man in a bar, he breaks the man's jaw and is sentenced to six months in jail. Despite the fact that Terangi acted in self-defense, Governor Eugene De Laage (Raymond Massey) strictly adheres to the ruling and refuses to commute the prisoner's sentence. But Terangi is no model prisoner and escapes repeatedly, increasing his jail sentence with each break. In a desperate attempt to see his wife Marama (Dorothy Lamour) and child, Terangi escapes once more, accidentally killing a guard in the process. De Laage commandeers a schooner and sets out in pursuit of Terangi who has returned to Manakoora just as a hurricane is bearing down on the island.
Originally, producer Samuel Goldwyn had selected Howard Hawks to direct The Hurricane but changed his mind after the two men clashed over the production of 1936's Come and Get It (William Wyler was called in to complete it). John Ford, an admirer of the Nordhoff/Hall novel, campaigned vigorously for the assignment and got it, even though he had had a frustrating experience with Goldwyn over a previous film, Arrowsmith (1931). As both men were autocrats, the filming of The Hurricane was predictably stormy, starting with the choice of locations. Ford wanted to shoot the entire film in the South Seas but Goldwyn only approved a second unit (under Ford's supervision) to capture background footage in the village of Pago Pago on Tutuila island in the American Samoa. The bulk of the picture would be shot on a Hollywood sound stage where Goldwyn could monitor the production more easily.
For the casting, Ford wanted Joel McCrea to play Terangi but the actor convinced him that he was all wrong for the role. Instead the part went to Jon Hall, a relatively unknown actor Ford spotted in a play at the Hollywood Playhouse. Hall, who was born Charles Hall Locher and temporarily changed it to Lloyd Crane during an early phase of his acting career, was actually the nephew of the co-author of The Hurricane - James Norman Hall. But this connection had nothing to do with why he won the role and his handsome, virile features quickly established him as a dashing hero in escapist fare (Aloma of the South Seas (1941), Arabian Nights (1942), and Cobra Woman, 1944). His co-star, Dorothy Lamour, was also a minor player at the time but had already established her exotic appeal as a "sarong" girl with her first film, The Jungle Princess (1936). She would go on to play a variety of ethnic parts and South Sea natives (Her Jungle Love (1938), Typhoon, 1940) before joining Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in their series of "Road" comedies (Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), etc.). It should be noted that both Merle Oberon and Movita Castenada were first considered for the role of Marama but Lamour is an ideal choice and "Moon of Manakoora," which she sings in The Hurricane, became her signature song. In addition to Lamour and Hall, the seasoned professionals include Raymond Massey, Mary Astor as Massey's wife, Madame Germaine De Laage, Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Kersaint, John Carradine as a jailer and, in the role of Father Paul, seventy-six-year-old British character actor C. Aubrey Smith, who insisted that the cast halt for a tea break every day.
In his biography A Hundred Different Lives, Raymond Massey describes the sprawling set of The Hurricane: "The Polynesian island which Sam Goldwyn had built on his back lot was a photogenic masterpiece. Its peaceful beauty, however, could be exploded and re-exploded at will. It had a controlled climate which no natural location could offer. Winds up to 150 miles an hour could be concentrated on the whole or any portion of the beach and village. Foaming breakers could devastate the island at cue. Tanks of water totalling 150,000 gallons could be poured on various points of action at will."
Lamour recalled the film shoot as well in her biography My Side of the Road (as told to Dick McInnes): "While filming the big luau wedding scene, he [Ford] had truckloads of real gardenias, ginger, and every conceivable Hawaiian flower delivered to the set each morning. All of the 200 or more extras wore gardenia leis around their necks, and every woman had flowers in her hair. This scene took weeks to shoot, and the beautiful scent floated through the air for blocks around the Goldwyn Studios. It was during this, the most pleasant part of the filming, that I first became an adopted Hawaiian."
Then the storm clouds gathered. Easily the most stressful, dangerous and difficult part of The Hurricane's production was the climactic catastrophe. Even though it occupies little more than twenty minutes of screen time, the sequence took five weeks to film. According to Lamour, "To make the great winds, the special effects department rigged up a dozen airplane engines with huge propellers. Then to make the wind whistle, they mixed a concoction of dried leaves and yellow sulfur, which photographed like dust, and flung it in front of the propellers. Each night after work, I was covered from head to foot with small nicks from the gale-swept leaves, and the sulfur didn't have the greatest effect on my eyes and throat."
Mary Astor, who also spent most of the hurricane sequence lashed to a tree with Lamour, Hall and child actress Kuulei De Clercq, didn't fare any better. In her autobiography, A Life on Film, she recalled, "...there was a tree. Oh, that tree! It was a big one, and it...was to last most of the storm, then uprooted, to drift out to sea...Close-ups had to be done inside the studio with a replica of the tree built into a tank, and it was made of wood and wire and papier-mâché and canvas. There they would turn the wind machines and hoses on us, and there they suspended the tree so that it would turn as though its roots were being loosened." But one day things didn't go as planned and Astor heard the tree make a terrible crunching sound. "All of a sudden it gave way....with a sickening scary plunge. It held at the trunk, but I was suspended....head downward over the concrete floor of the tank twenty feet below. If the branch had come loose completely and if I hadn't been tied securely, it would have been serious." Curiously enough, the entire hurricane sequence wasn't filmed by Ford but second unit director Stuart Heisler and special effects expert James Basevi (who had also "designed" the earthquake scenes in San Francisco). Ford liked to personally supervise all of the filming on his movies but in the case of The Hurricane he made a rare exception.
When filming was completed on The Hurricane, Ford received news from Goldwyn that the producer wanted the interior scenes reshot, replacing the original dialogue by Dudley Nichols and Oliver Garrett with a rewrite by Ben Hecht. The decision infuriated Ford but Goldwyn would continue to tinker with the film in post-production. Ford later confessed to Dorothy Lamour more than thirty years later, "I was feuding with Sam Goldwyn so much over the cutting of the film that I never saw the finished film."
Despite the acrimonious relationship between Ford and Goldwyn, The Hurricane displayed no ill signs of creative differences and was enthusiastically received by the public and critics alike, ending up on many top ten lists of the year's best movies. It was nominated for three Oscars® including Best Supporting Actor (Thomas Mitchell), Best Music Score (by Alfred Newman), and Best Sound Recording (for which it won a statuette). Among the films Ford directed in the thirties, The Hurricane still holds up as a handsomely mounted entertainment, particularly in the purely visual, non-verbal passages such as Hall's escape attempts or the wedding feast. And it's a masterpiece in comparison to Dino De Laurentiis's bloated 1979 remake simply entitled Hurricane. Even though it was filmed on location in Bora Bora and starred Jason Robards, Mia Farrow, Max von Sydow, Trevor Howard and Timothy Bottoms, critics panned it and it was one of the biggest box office disasters of the seventies in relation to its costs.
Producer: Samuel Goldwyn, Merritt Hulburd
Director: John Ford
Screenplay: Oliver H.P. Garrett, James Norman Hall (novel), Charles Nordhoff (novel), Ben Hecht, Dudley Nichols
Cinematography: Bert Glennon
Film Editing: Lloyd Nosler
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Dorothy Lamour (Marama), Jon Hall (Terangi), Mary Astor (Madame Germaine De Laage), C. Aubrey Smith (Father Paul), Thomas Mitchell (Dr. Kersaint), Raymond Massey (Gov. Eugene De Laage).
by Jeff Stafford
The Hurricane (1937)
Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's novel was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (28 December 1935-1 February 1936). A December 5, 1935 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that producer Samuel Goldwyn purchased the film rights to their novel for $60,000, and various news items in the spring of 1936 noted that he originally intended to produce the film in Technicolor, but was prevented from doing so because of the cost involved. The film's pressbook stated that Goldwyn had hoped to shoot the entire picture on location in the South Seas, but the expense and difficulty of transporting the equipment, combined with the possible adverse weather conditions, necessitated that the picture be shot in Hollywood. A great deal of background footage was shot in the village of Pago Pago, on the Tutuila Island in American Samoa, however, where the camera crew received the cooperation of the U.S. Navy. A November 22, 1937 Life article reported that the location crew shot "140,000 feet of scenic shots in Samoa, enough to make 14 movies." Among those who went to the South Seas for location scouting in the winter of 1936 and filming during the following spring were: director John Ford, associate director Stuart Heisler, unit location manager Percy Ikerd, art director Richard Day, photographers Archie Stout and Paul Eagler and an eighteen-member technical crew. Although a November 1, 1936 New York Times news item stated that Gregg Toland would be leaving in a week to film exteriors in Samoa, his participation in the completed film has not been confirmed.
Among the actresses listed by contemporary sources as being considered for the role of "Marama" were Merle Oberon and Movita Castenada, the latter of whom appeared in the picture as "Arai." According to Hollywood Reporter news items, Goldwyn first signed Margo for the part of Marama, then borrowed Dorothy Lamour from Paramount after Margo asked to be relieved of the role. "Moon of Manakoora" became Lamour's signature song, and the role of Marama helped establish her career identification with a sarong, which was begun with the 1936 film Jungle Princess. A Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Charita Alden was being tested for an uspecified role, and a Hollywood Reporter production chart includes Barbara O'Neil in the cast, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. Basil Rathbone was originally considered for the part of "Eugene DeLaage," which, according to a September 25, 1938 New York Times article, he turned down. Photographer Bert Glennon and actor C. Aubrey Smith were borrowed from Selznick International for this production.
A November 19, 1936 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Goldwyn would star Mala as "Terangi" if Errol Flynn were unavailable for the part, while a November 21, 1936 Film Daily news item stated that Goldwyn contract players John Payne and Frank Shields were being tested for the role. In early February 1937, Goldwyn announced that Joel McCrea would be playing "Terangi," although by late Mar, he was removed from the cast and placed into another Goldwyn film, Dead End. After much publicity announcing that he was looking for and casting an "unknown" as "Terangi," Goldwyn finally revealed that he had placed Jon Hall in the role. Although Goldwyn's publicity, contemporary news items and reviews variously asserted that Hall was an "unknown," a "newcomer," or that he had "never appeared in a picture" before, Hall had made numerous films in the mid-1930s under the names Charles Locher and Lloyd Crane. Contemporary and modern sources variously state that Hall was the cousin, second cousin or nephew of author James Norman Hall, and that he was a next-door neighbor of Ford, all of which contributed to his being cast as "Terangi." Hall, who was born in Fresno, CA, was reared in Tahiti, although some sources incorrectly state that he was born in Tahiti as well.
According to Hollywood Reporter news items, William Wyler directed tests of the actors while Ford was finishing direction on Wee Willie Winkie at Fox, and location shooting was also done on Santa Catalina Island, CA. A March 24, 1937 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Goldwyn was going to produce a 1,000 foot short about the filming of The Hurricane in Samoa. The news item stated: "The short titled 'Samoa for the Samoans' will be released to theatres in advance of the feature's distribution and will show the manner in which a picture company works on location." No other information about the short has been found. Although Frank Loesser and Alfred Newman's song is entitled "Moon of Manakoora," contemporary sources refer to the island on which the film's action takes place as "Manukura."
The widely praised hurricane sequence was created by special effects expert James Basevi and his assistant, Robert Layton. Basevi and Layton, who had been with M-G-M for fourteen years, left the studio in September 1936 after creating the earthquake special effects for San Francisco (see below). According to Life, Goldwyn gave Basevi a budget of $400,000 to achieve his effects, and "of this amount, $150,000 was spent to build a native village, fronted by a lagoon 200 yards long. The other $250,000 was spent in destroying it." A pressbook for the film notes that the native village set occupied two-and-a-half acres of the United Artists studio backlot. With the aid of numerous twelve-cylinder Liberty motor wind machines, large wave machines, firehoses and an elaborate system of pipes, chutes and holding tanks, thousands of gallons of water were sent crashing down onto the sets to create the winds of the hurricane and the subsequent tidal waves. Contemporary sources note that doubles were not used for the actors during the storm sequences, and as an article in New York Times related: "Dorothy Lamour and Mary Astor were really lashed to that tree and buffeted about like chips." According to another New York Times article, the rigors of shooting resulted in Hall losing thirty pounds by the time the picture was completed. In her autobiography, Astor describes the shooting: "Huge propellers kept us fighting for every step, with sand and water whipping our faces, sometimes leaving little pinpricks of blood on our cheeks from the stinging sand."
According to a remark by Goldwyn printed in a New York Times article, the film cost $2,000,00 to produce. The article relates that Goldwyn spent another $35,000 on the picture's premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. The film was named one of ten best pictures of 1938 by the Film Daily annual critics poll, and a modern source notes that it was "one of United Artists' most successful releases in years." Thomas Mitchell was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Alfred Newman was nominated for Best Score. The Hurricane won an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording. Information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that the picture was the object of much criticism by the French government. French officials in Washington, D.C. demanded cuts of the scenes in which prisoners were flogged and tortured by French guards. The eliminations were made, but the film still encountered difficulty in Paris, where censors refused to pass a dubbed version. According to a letter from Harold L. Smith, who apparently was a PCA foreign staff member, "there was a unanimous decision of the censors not to pass the film for two reasons: first, the original version was considered anti-French in accord with reports received from the French Embassy in Washington and second, the local office of United Artists presented to the censors a revised version of the film whereas the regulations require that the original version be presented." Correspondence in the file indicates that the French representative of United Artists was fearful that the original verison would not pass and so instead submitted a revised version. The correspondence does not specifically state which version was exhibited in Paris, but apparently the censors did agree to review both the original and dubbed versions.
According to modern sources, Goldwyn originally wanted Howard Hawks to direct the picture, for which Ben Hecht was hired to do an uncredited rewrite just before going into production. A 1974 New York Times news item noted that Paul Stader was Hall's stuntman for a jump off a cliff. The picture was remade in 1979 as Hurricane, which was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, directed by January Troell and starred Jason Robards, Mia Farrow and Dayton Ka'ne. According to a 1978 New York Times article, De Laurentiis "reportedly paid $500,000 for the rights to the original film." The remake, which was filmed on location in Bora Bora, cost eleven times more to produce than the original. The Variety review of the later film incorrectly states that Glen Robinson created the hurricane special effects for the 1937 picture.
Released in United States 1937
Released in United States on Video August 31, 1988
Released in United States 1937
Released in United States on Video August 31, 1988