Sunday, April 28, 2013

Stream-And-Run: Hero's Island (1962)

    James Mason swashbuckles his way through this minor effort.

    NOTE: Netflix is taking down a boatload of titles on May 1st, so I thought it might be fun to see how many I can watch in the next two weeks, and then post quick, little hit-and-run reviews here. Hope you enjoy, and if you want to see any of these movies and have Netflix, better watch ’em now!

    A family travels to the coast of the Carolinas in the 18th century; after having completed their term as indentured servants, their former master has given them a title to an isle called Bull Island. The only trouble is, the island is already in use by local fishermen who don’t much care about their little piece of paper that gives them “ownership” over their island. Things escalate, and before you know the husband is dead and his wife and his best friend are left to care for their two children. The fishermen continue to plague the family, but fortune smiles upon them when a mysterious stranger with a gift for sword-fighting drifts ashore. Hero’s Island a very old-fashioned, classic Hollywood movie, the type that was soon to be phased out entirely just a few short years after its release. The whole film feels like the last squeeze of the rag of the classic adventure epic, the droppings of which seem barely suited to fill out this rather small movie. The film has a saving grace in its cast, however, starting with leading man James Mason. Mason’s probably not the first choice for an adventure hero, but he elevates every scene he’s in - and there’s a last minute twist to his character that I rather enjoyed. The short-lived Kate Manx also leaves quite an impression as the widowed mother of two, and makes a rather preachy character into someone the audience admires rather than is annoyed by. Also notable are early appearances by Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton and Rip Torn, who are all fantastic in parts big and small. The able cast does what they can with the tired material, but ultimately Hero’s Island buckles more than it swashes… If you get my meaning (I’m not entirely sure I do).

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