The Midnite Drive-In and Dubsism are hosting (cue: thunder and lightning) the DISASTER BLOG-A-THON! Your journey to movie danger starts HERE and HERE.
Manakoora is a South Sea Island under the dubious protection of France. Governor Paul DeLaage played by Raymond Massey comes from a long line of bureaucrats who place their fidelity to duty above all else. The strict adherence to this foreign code does not harmonize with the carefree lifestyle of the islanders. The philosophical (read: alcoholic) Dr. Kersaint played by Thomas Mitchell loves and thinks he understands the people of Manakoora. Kersaint chides DeLaage: "You're a sensitive man. You'll do something to yourself if you govern these somewhat childish people according to your ideas instead of theirs. You'll destroy yourself."
The return to the island of the ship Katapua captained by Captain Nagle played by Jerome Cowan brings two much-loved passengers home. It is hoped that Mme. Germaine DeLaage played by Mary Astor will soften her husband's authoritarian heart. The first-mate Terangi played by Jon Hall is Manakoora's favourite son and his return means a celebration as he marries lovely Marama played by Dorothy Lamour. First, a church ceremony by Father Paul played by C. Aubrey Smith, a missionary who loves his congregation. Whether that love is good for them or not, is yet to be seen. Second is a traditionally joyous native marriage celebration performed by Chief Mehevi played by Al Kikume.
Terangi and Marama should have a gloriously happy future ahead of them. Yet Marama fears for Terangi's next trip on the Katapua. Her dreams portend sadness and danger. Terangi is proud of his first-mate position. The hat he wears makes him the equal of any white man on Tahiti. "You are married a few days and already you're an old wife full of worries."
Terangi was wrong about his first mate's cap. Standing up for himself against a drunk in a bar, he strikes a man of influence. Terangi is sentenced to six months in jail under the jealous eyes of a sadistic guard played by John Carradine. Captain Nagle's attempt to sway the courts did nothing to reduce the sentence or set Terangi free. Neither does Governor DeLaage do anything to help despite the pleas of his wife, his doctor, or the ship's captain.
It is more than Terangi can bear to be locked up. It is natural to his nature to try to escape. Each escape and there are many, adds to his sentence until 16 years loom large against him. It will be nearly half that until at last a successful escape brings him the long way back to Manakoora, to Marama and the daughter he has never seen.
Terangi's return also brings "the wind that overturns the world." No one on Manakoora can escape the wrath of nature. It is more powerful than governments or religions.
All of our characters, the people of the island, and the conflicting emotions are brought together in the thrilling hurricane sequence which runs approximately 20 minutes.
Samuel Goldwyn was Hollywood's most powerful independent producer of the classic era. He took a deeply personal interest in all of his films. He purchased the rights to the romantic action novel The Hurricane by Nordhoff and Hall, famous for their Bounty trilogy. Goldwyn and John Ford had worked previously on Arrowsmith from the Sinclair Lewis novel in 1931. Goldwyn pegged Ford as the right person to bring this ambitious project to the screen.
The Hurricane had an excellent cast and crew. Much of the shooting was done on Santa Catalina Island by Bert Glennon, the second of the eight films he made with Ford. Second unit backgrounds were shot by Archie Stout at American Samoa. The special effects team was led by Oscar-winning art director James Basevi. Thomas Moulton won the Oscar for Best Sound, recording, an integral part of the incredible hurricane in this movie. Alfred Newman was nominated for Best Music, score, and Thomas Mitchell for Best Supporting Actor.
Reviews for The Hurricane were mixed but audiences were receptive making the film a hit from a box office standpoint. Despite CGI and the number of disaster movies since 1937, I believe audiences will still be taken with the story and the astounding effects of The Hurricane.
In films since 1934 under his real name of Charles Locher, the actor changed his name to Jon Hall to capitalize on his connection to the co-author of The Hurricane, James Norman Hall. Nice publicity for the picture.
Dorothy Lamour's next film with John Ford would be Donovan's Reef in 1963. Pictured above with co-star Lee Marvin. The theme of The Hurricane by Alfred Newman with lyrics by Frank Loesser has become a standard. Dorothy Lamour sings The Moon of Manakoora.
Moviegoers of 1937 were seeing double. Mary Astor and Raymond Massey, along with C. Aubrey Smith were also featured in The Prisoner of Zenda.