South of Tahiti


1h 18m 1941

Brief Synopsis

While not Maria Montez's first film with credit billing, this is the one that Universal used to launch her sex-sand-sarong (the sandals came later) career---"Maria Montez-The Screen's New Blaze of Excitement"--- that lasted over four years until she was usurped by Yvonne DeCarlo. The taglines here were just a warn-up for what was to come---"Daring Days! Exotic Nights! in a forbidden Pagan Paradise" and one even foreshadowed the title of one of her future films; "WHITE SAVAGE! Daughter of Eve...with a Soul of Satan! Lashing men and beasts to hate...and love...in a forbidden Pagan Paradise!" The plotline says four men, Brian Donlevy, Brod Crawford, Andy Devine and Henry Wilcoxin, drift ashore to an exotic island where they meet a beautiful native girl. All become more than a little smitten with Melahi (Maria Montez), with the exception of Andy Devine who is only concerned about not becoming a meal for her pet leopard. They don't make 'em like this anymore.

Film Details

Also Known As
White Savage
Release Date
Oct 17, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Dana Point, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,782ft

Synopsis

In Kapal, sailors Bob, Chuck and Moose argue with Larkin, their captain, over his refusal to share equally the pearls they found on their last voyage. After a bar fight, the three sailors hop aboard their schooner, "Agatha," and set sail. When they fail to arrive in Datang, the ship is officially listed as missing. After two days without water or hope, the sailors drift to an uncharted south sea island. While Chuck and Moose look for water, Bob meets native princess Melahi and her leopards. He is later captured and taken to Kawalima, the blind High Chief of the village, who tells the sailor that he may stay in their village as long as he abides by their laws. Bob is then taken to the manhood ceremony for Kuana, Kawalima's son. Chuck and Moose mistake the natives for cannibals and think that the ceremony is a human sacrifice of Bob. He soon sets his friends straight, however, and they all join in the ceremony until they see the natives sacrificing priceless pearls. The next morning, Tahawa, the true power behind Kawalima, warns Bob and Chuck that "white men" are not welcome on the island. While Bob teaches Melahi to speak English, Moose and his native girl, Tutara, find a wrecked airplane, from which the sailors hope to salvage parts to fix their schooner. Their discovery distresses Melahi, who fears that Bob will leave without her. While Bob and Moose express some desire to stay on the island, Chuck is anxious to take the pearls and leave. Chuck then convinces Moose to help him steal the natives' pearls, but when they break into the pearl temple, they are found by Kawalima, who warns them that their greed could cost them their lives. After the men run out of the tomb, they discover that their ship is burning, and Bob quickly realizes that Melahi has set the fire. Bob later finds the crashed pilot's log book, and learns that Melahi is actually the daughter of the dead pilot. Later, when Melahi attracts a tiger shark after cutting herself on a coral reef, Kuana sacrifices himself to save his sister, much to the pleasure of Tahawa, who sees the young boy's death as the last step in his assignation to chief. Larkin and his crew then arrive at the island, and when Bob tries to alert Kawalima to the sailors' intentions, Kawalima changes the subject and informs him that Melahi is about to marry Tahawa. Thinking that he has been a "chump," Bob joins in his fellow sailors' plot until he learns that Larkin has kidnapped Melahi "as insurance." Bob, Chuck and Moose then take on Larkin and his men, and with the help of Melahi's leopards, the sea captain's men are defeated. Bob and Melahi go into the pearl temple, where they are captured by Tahawa, who announces his plans to kill Bob and proclaim himself the new island chief. Kawalima then arrives and orders the leopards to kill the evil Tahawa. After Bob ascends to Kuana's place as heir to Kawalima's throne, he forces Chuck, Moose and Larkin to participate in the next pearl sacrifice.

Film Details

Also Known As
White Savage
Release Date
Oct 17, 1941
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
Dana Point, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 18m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,782ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was White Savage. Hollywood Reporter news items state that big-game hunter John Dantu worked as a technical advisor on this film and that dance director Nick Castle "helped" with some of the dances. News items also indicate that scenes for the film were shot on location at Dana Point, CA, with a yacht serving as quarters for actors Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford and Andy Devine. While the film's credits imply that this was actress Maria Montez's first film, she had previously appeared in supporting roles in the 1940 Universal film The Invisible Woman (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2153) and in the 1941 Universal film Bombay Clipper (see entry above).