I Was a Prisoner on Devil's Island


1h 11m 1941

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 30, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
6,341ft

Synopsis

When their freighter lands on the island of St. Jean, cabinmates Dr. Victor Martel and first mate Joel Grant bid farewell to each other. Martel eagerly anticipates traveling to Devil's Island, where he is to serve as prison physician, while Joel joins the revelers who are celebrating carnival onshore. Noticing a woman seated alone on a park bench, Joel joins her. The woman, Claire Martel, begins to cry and tells Joel that her unhappiness is a result of an arranged marriage to a man she despises. After a night of talking, the pair fall in love, and Joel decides to leave his ship while Claire decides to leave her husband. When Joel asks the captain for his wages, however, the captain refuses to pay him. In the ensuing fight, Joel knocks the captain to the floor and, unaware that he has fractured the man's skull, takes his money and leaves. Meanwhile, Claire returns home and tells her husband, Dr. Victor Martel, that she wants a divorce. Martel refuses and threatens to declare Claire mentally incompetent unless she joins him on Devil's Island. Later, as Joel sleeps in his hotel room, he is awakened by the police, who have come to arrest him for the captain's murder. After Joel is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve three years on Devil's Island, Claire consents to accompany her husband there. At the prison, Joel is befriended by Guissart, the head guard, after the guard discovers that Joel has served in the Foreign Legion. From a fellow prisoner, Joel learns that the commandant and Martel are profiteering by selling the prisoner's medical supplies and food to the natives. Assigned to work in the quarry, Joel deliberately injures his ankle with a pick-axe so that he will be sent to the hospital and therefore be closer to Claire. After Claire learns of Joel's injuries, she volunteers to help her husband in the hospital. When Guissart prevents Martel from amputating Joel's foot, Martel complains to the commandant about the guard's interference. The commandant responds by warning Martel to cooperate with Guissart to prevent him from informing the governor about irregularities at the prison. Time passes, and after Joel's foot heals, Claire remains at the hospital as Martel's assistant. When a supply ship delivers a valuable shipment of jungle fever medicine, Martel and the commandant decide to sell it to a drug dealer on the mainland. While Martel takes the drug to the mainland, jungle fever reaches the prison. Upon returning to the island, Martel learns of the disease and informs the commandant that they must retrieve the medicine and administer it to all those who have been exposed. Falling victim to the fever himself, Martel, delirious, begins to rave about selling the medication to a drug dealer on the mainland. When the disease claims Claire as its next victim, Joel and Guissart, unknown to the prison adminstration, brave a hurricane to sail to the mainland and retrieve the medicine. Their mission accomplished, they return to the prison and administer the life-saving drug to Martel, Claire, and the other patients. To reward Joel for his courage, Guissart, intending to request his pardon, cables the governor to come to the island. Soon after, Martel and the commandant discover that Guissart knows about their crimes, so the commandant imprisons the guard in the dungeon, planning to kill him after the departure of the governor. When the governor arrives at the prison, the commandant tells him that Guissart was a victim of the fever. Insisting upon meeting the prisoners that helped during the fever outbreak, the governor meets with Joel and offers him a pardon, telling him the official papers will arrive in a few days. When Claire informs her husband that she plans to leave the island with the governor, Martel slaps her and Joel comes to her defense. Finally becoming aware that his wife is in love with Joel, Martel threatens to file assault charges against the prisoner unless Claire agrees to remain on Devil's Island. That night, Joel learns that the commandant has imprisoned Guissart and plans to kill him. Tricking the guards, Joel and two other prisoners enter the dungeon and free Guissart. When the alarm sirens sound, the guards in the prison tower begin to shoot at the escapees in the courtyard. After the governor orders the men to cease fire, the commandant and Martel, knowing that Guissart will expose them, flee the compound and are gunned down by the guards. Soon afterward, Joel, Claire and Guissart sail away from Devil's Island to freedom.

Film Details

Release Date
Jun 30, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 11m
Film Length
6,341ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the SAB and several of the reviews, writer Osso Van Eyss's name was misspelled as Otto Van Eyes or Otto Edgar Van Eyes.