Outcast of the Islands


1h 42m 1951
Outcast of the Islands

Brief Synopsis

Friends and family search for a British expatriate adrift in Malaysia.

Film Details

Also Known As
An
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1951

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Willems is saved from the police, after being involved in a swindle, by the captain of a trading vessel who takes him to his island outpost. There, he doublecrosses his friend, tricks his partner and falls in love with the daughter of the blind tribal chief.

Film Details

Also Known As
An
Genre
Romance
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
1951

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Outcast of the Islands


In the late 1940's, British director Carol Reed made three films in a row that brought him to the top of his profession: Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Third Man (1949). The last, in particular, brought him international success and acclaim, so it was understandable that he would deliberate carefully over his next move and take three years before he released his next picture. Another thriller would have been popular and profitable, but Reed wanted to strike off in a new direction. "It's dull to stick to the same sort of subject and bad for one's work into the bargain," he said. "Variety is an essential exercise to a director." With this in mind, he eventually settled on an adaptation of the second book by the reputedly difficult-to-film author Joseph Conrad, Outcast of the Islands (1952), first published in 1896.

The idea had germinated with Third Man producer Alexander Korda, who announced in 1948 that Outcast of the Islands would be an upcoming project for Reed that would star Robert Mitchum as a bored and restless expatriate involved in swindling, betrayal, and an ultimately doomed affair with the beautiful daughter of a blind tribal chieftain. Likely, this was both a bit of publicity grandstanding and a ploy by Korda to get Reed interested, since Mitchum was never really attached to the project. Either Korda's game or Reed's own longtime interest in Conrad did the trick; the director found this complex story of human frailty and culture clash to be just the artistic challenge he needed. The result, however, was not the unqualified success of the earlier films. Outcast of the Islands was drastically cut for its U.S. release and reviewers picked at a number of flaws, although there were some who praised Trevor Howard's performance and found the film to be one of the sharpest treatments of any of Conrad's works, perhaps unjustly overshadowed by The Third Man.

One of the details critics slammed was how some of the women characters were altered in the adaptation from page to screen. For both ease of casting and to avoid censorship problems over interracial marriage, two of the female characters were changed from the half-caste wives of British colonials to English women, one of them played by Wendy Hiller, who found the whole undertaking without focus or a clear idea of what was being portrayed. Fans of the novel were also disappointed in the transformation of the tribal girl's character from aggressive seducer to rather innocent victim. Aissa had a full inner life in the book, in keeping with Conrad's modernist, multiple-perspective approach, but on screen she was given no dialogue. Reed searched far and wide for the right unknown to play the part, finally coming upon the daughter of an Algerian businessman in Paris and his French wife. The young woman's name was changed from Miriam to Kerima, and although she had never acted before (her ambition was to become a medical student when Outcast of the Islands was finished), she enjoyed the work and created a strong impression on screen. Whether or not she pursued her medical studies is doubtful, as she continued to work in movies, playing various exotic supporting roles until as late as 1972, including a turn in Howard Hawks's Land of the Pharaohs (1955).

Korda initially wanted Stewart Granger for the role of Willems, especially since the young English actor had just made a hit Hollywood movie, King Solomon's Mines (1950). But Reed insisted on Howard, who he had directed previously in The Way Ahead (1944) and The Third Man (they would work together two more times after this). "I knew of no one among contemporary film actors better suited to play Willems, the moral degenerate, than Trevor Howard," the director said, apparently with all affection and respect.

Although set in Borneo and Malaya (where Reed did some early background photography), the film was shot mostly in Sri Lanka (then still known as Ceylon), where Howard had lived as a young boy. In fact, the exterior of the building in which Howard's father worked as a Lloyd's of London insurance agent made it into the picture.

A number of mishaps plagued the production: a house Howard was living in was washed away; Reed sprained his ankle and had to be carried up and down hills searching for ideal camera set-ups; and 150 dogs were inadvertently shot after Reed carped about their nightly barking (he was furious when he found out how his complaint had been handled).

Outcast of the Islands was nominated by the British Academy for Best British Film and Best Film from Any Source. The story was filmed again for Italian television in 1980.

Director: Carol Reed
Producer: Carol Reed
Screenplay: William Fairchild, based on the novel by Joseph Conrad
Cinematography: Edward Scaife, John Wilcox
Editing: Bert Bates
Production Design: Vincent Korda
Cast: Trevor Howard (Peter Willems), Ralph Richardson (Captain Lingard), Robert Morley (Almayer), Wendy Hiller (Mrs. Almayer), Kerima (Aissa), George Coulouris (Babalatchi).
BW-101m.

by Rob Nixon
Outcast Of The Islands

Outcast of the Islands

In the late 1940's, British director Carol Reed made three films in a row that brought him to the top of his profession: Odd Man Out (1947), The Fallen Idol (1948), and The Third Man (1949). The last, in particular, brought him international success and acclaim, so it was understandable that he would deliberate carefully over his next move and take three years before he released his next picture. Another thriller would have been popular and profitable, but Reed wanted to strike off in a new direction. "It's dull to stick to the same sort of subject and bad for one's work into the bargain," he said. "Variety is an essential exercise to a director." With this in mind, he eventually settled on an adaptation of the second book by the reputedly difficult-to-film author Joseph Conrad, Outcast of the Islands (1952), first published in 1896. The idea had germinated with Third Man producer Alexander Korda, who announced in 1948 that Outcast of the Islands would be an upcoming project for Reed that would star Robert Mitchum as a bored and restless expatriate involved in swindling, betrayal, and an ultimately doomed affair with the beautiful daughter of a blind tribal chieftain. Likely, this was both a bit of publicity grandstanding and a ploy by Korda to get Reed interested, since Mitchum was never really attached to the project. Either Korda's game or Reed's own longtime interest in Conrad did the trick; the director found this complex story of human frailty and culture clash to be just the artistic challenge he needed. The result, however, was not the unqualified success of the earlier films. Outcast of the Islands was drastically cut for its U.S. release and reviewers picked at a number of flaws, although there were some who praised Trevor Howard's performance and found the film to be one of the sharpest treatments of any of Conrad's works, perhaps unjustly overshadowed by The Third Man. One of the details critics slammed was how some of the women characters were altered in the adaptation from page to screen. For both ease of casting and to avoid censorship problems over interracial marriage, two of the female characters were changed from the half-caste wives of British colonials to English women, one of them played by Wendy Hiller, who found the whole undertaking without focus or a clear idea of what was being portrayed. Fans of the novel were also disappointed in the transformation of the tribal girl's character from aggressive seducer to rather innocent victim. Aissa had a full inner life in the book, in keeping with Conrad's modernist, multiple-perspective approach, but on screen she was given no dialogue. Reed searched far and wide for the right unknown to play the part, finally coming upon the daughter of an Algerian businessman in Paris and his French wife. The young woman's name was changed from Miriam to Kerima, and although she had never acted before (her ambition was to become a medical student when Outcast of the Islands was finished), she enjoyed the work and created a strong impression on screen. Whether or not she pursued her medical studies is doubtful, as she continued to work in movies, playing various exotic supporting roles until as late as 1972, including a turn in Howard Hawks's Land of the Pharaohs (1955). Korda initially wanted Stewart Granger for the role of Willems, especially since the young English actor had just made a hit Hollywood movie, King Solomon's Mines (1950). But Reed insisted on Howard, who he had directed previously in The Way Ahead (1944) and The Third Man (they would work together two more times after this). "I knew of no one among contemporary film actors better suited to play Willems, the moral degenerate, than Trevor Howard," the director said, apparently with all affection and respect. Although set in Borneo and Malaya (where Reed did some early background photography), the film was shot mostly in Sri Lanka (then still known as Ceylon), where Howard had lived as a young boy. In fact, the exterior of the building in which Howard's father worked as a Lloyd's of London insurance agent made it into the picture. A number of mishaps plagued the production: a house Howard was living in was washed away; Reed sprained his ankle and had to be carried up and down hills searching for ideal camera set-ups; and 150 dogs were inadvertently shot after Reed carped about their nightly barking (he was furious when he found out how his complaint had been handled). Outcast of the Islands was nominated by the British Academy for Best British Film and Best Film from Any Source. The story was filmed again for Italian television in 1980. Director: Carol Reed Producer: Carol Reed Screenplay: William Fairchild, based on the novel by Joseph Conrad Cinematography: Edward Scaife, John Wilcox Editing: Bert Bates Production Design: Vincent Korda Cast: Trevor Howard (Peter Willems), Ralph Richardson (Captain Lingard), Robert Morley (Almayer), Wendy Hiller (Mrs. Almayer), Kerima (Aissa), George Coulouris (Babalatchi). BW-101m. by Rob Nixon

Wendy Hiller, 1912-2003


Dame Wendy Hiller, one of Britain's most distinguished actresses of screen and stage and whose career highlights include being George Bernard Shaw's favorite leading lady, and an Oscar winner for her performance as a lonely spinster in Separate Tables (1958), died at her home in Beaconsfield, England, on May 14. She was 90.

Wendy Hiller was born on August 15, 1912, in Bramhall, and raised in Manchester, where her father was a cotton-cloth manufacturer. Educated at Winceby House, a girl's school in Sussex, Hiller found herself drawn to the theater, and after completing secondary school, Wendy joined the Manchester Repertory Theater, where she was a bit player and later an assistant stage manager. In 1934, she earned critical acclaim and stardom when Manchester Rep cast her as the lead in the popular drama, Love on the Dole, written by her future husband, Ronald Gow. The play was such a hit, that Hiller would repeat her role in London and triumphed on Broadway.

Back on the London stage, she was playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan, when she caught the eye of the playwright himself. He cast her as the beloved cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (contemporary audiences will no doubt be aware of the musical version - My Fair Lady) on stage in 1936 and in Anthony Asquith's screen adaptation two years later co-starring Leslie Howard. The film was a smash, and Hiller earned an Academy Award nomination for her striking and original Eliza. Shaw would cast her again as an heiress turned Salvation Army worker in the classic Major Barbara for both stage and the 1941 film version.

The ensuing years could very well have been Hiller's time for screen stardom, yet despite her blazing acting ability, regal presence and distinctive voice, her film forays were too few, as she concentrated on the stage and spending time with her husband Gow and two children. Still, when she did make a film appearance, it was often memorable: a materialist turned romantic in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's glorious, I Know Where I'm Going! (1945); a lonely hotelkeeper in Delbert Mann's Separate Tables (1958), which earned her an Academy Award as best supporting actress; an obsessive mother in Jack Cardiff's Sons and Lovers (1960); a unfaltering wife to Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinneman's brilliant A Man for All Seasons (1966); and as a compassionate nurse who cares for the deformed David Merrick in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980).

Ill health became an issue for Hiller in her later years, but she made one elegant return to the camera when she was cast as a former society beauty who is interviewed 50 years after her fame in Moira Armstrong's The Countess Alice (1992). In a performance that was touching, but never maudlin, Wendy Hiller proved that few could match her for presence, integrity and dignity. Her contribution to her craft did not go unnoticed, as she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975. She is survived by her son, Anthony, and daughter, Ann.

by Michael T. Toole

Wendy Hiller, 1912-2003

Dame Wendy Hiller, one of Britain's most distinguished actresses of screen and stage and whose career highlights include being George Bernard Shaw's favorite leading lady, and an Oscar winner for her performance as a lonely spinster in Separate Tables (1958), died at her home in Beaconsfield, England, on May 14. She was 90. Wendy Hiller was born on August 15, 1912, in Bramhall, and raised in Manchester, where her father was a cotton-cloth manufacturer. Educated at Winceby House, a girl's school in Sussex, Hiller found herself drawn to the theater, and after completing secondary school, Wendy joined the Manchester Repertory Theater, where she was a bit player and later an assistant stage manager. In 1934, she earned critical acclaim and stardom when Manchester Rep cast her as the lead in the popular drama, Love on the Dole, written by her future husband, Ronald Gow. The play was such a hit, that Hiller would repeat her role in London and triumphed on Broadway. Back on the London stage, she was playing the lead in George Bernard Shaw's St. Joan, when she caught the eye of the playwright himself. He cast her as the beloved cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (contemporary audiences will no doubt be aware of the musical version - My Fair Lady) on stage in 1936 and in Anthony Asquith's screen adaptation two years later co-starring Leslie Howard. The film was a smash, and Hiller earned an Academy Award nomination for her striking and original Eliza. Shaw would cast her again as an heiress turned Salvation Army worker in the classic Major Barbara for both stage and the 1941 film version. The ensuing years could very well have been Hiller's time for screen stardom, yet despite her blazing acting ability, regal presence and distinctive voice, her film forays were too few, as she concentrated on the stage and spending time with her husband Gow and two children. Still, when she did make a film appearance, it was often memorable: a materialist turned romantic in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's glorious, I Know Where I'm Going! (1945); a lonely hotelkeeper in Delbert Mann's Separate Tables (1958), which earned her an Academy Award as best supporting actress; an obsessive mother in Jack Cardiff's Sons and Lovers (1960); a unfaltering wife to Sir Thomas More in Fred Zinneman's brilliant A Man for All Seasons (1966); and as a compassionate nurse who cares for the deformed David Merrick in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980). Ill health became an issue for Hiller in her later years, but she made one elegant return to the camera when she was cast as a former society beauty who is interviewed 50 years after her fame in Moira Armstrong's The Countess Alice (1992). In a performance that was touching, but never maudlin, Wendy Hiller proved that few could match her for presence, integrity and dignity. Her contribution to her craft did not go unnoticed, as she was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1975. She is survived by her son, Anthony, and daughter, Ann. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

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Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1951

Released in United States 1951