Outcast of the Islands Reviews

  • Nov 01, 2020

    It's easy for some viewers to sit back in their easy chair and criticize works (often made before they were born) for the lack of special effects - this superior work is about character, not spectacular effects. Effects in this era were limited to rear projection or models, and when tackling a subject serious as this - knowing the majority of audiences prefer a happy ending - you weren't going to make a lot of money. It was brave enough of master filmmaker Carol Read (or any movie maker) to take on a Joseph Conrad novel, let alone one as detailed as An Outcast of the Islands. Outcast, like other Conrad writings, is an in-depth study of a heart filled with darkness, a soul on a path of selfish self-destruction. Trevor Howard is superb as Willems, a waif taken under the protective wing of a kindly sea captain (Ralf Richardson) who offers a guiding hand and employment in his trading business. When Willems attempts to go it alone, his all-consuming greed takes control - leading him to fraudulently cheat his employers at every opportunity. Forced on the run he goes into hiding, relying once more on his kindly benefactor. It's here he forms a dalliance with the sultry daughter of a conniving local chieftain - creating deeper complications. Robert Morley is equally excellent as yet another opportunistic ‘fortune-hunter' who marries the boss's daughter to secure employment and a home – while waiting in the wings to take over the business. Wonderful Wendy Hiller is the daughter/wife treated as a dishrag and mother to their daughter. Her role is an alteration from Conrad's original native girl - possibly to make the film more appealing in the world marketplace, and while a secondary character she's always a joy to see. The eventual showdown between adopted father and his corrupt charge is dynamic in its setting and verbal power – making this a perfect (while slightly flawed) masterpiece – a vividly detailed examination of morality over immorality. Between Reed's intelligent direction, William Fairchild's biting screenplay and the combined photographic talents of Ted Scaife (The Third Man) John Wilcox (The Last Valley) Ted Moore (Man for all Seasons) and Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man) making up the splendid Cinematography team. Shooting in rugged tropical locations in stark B/W, nothing could be visually more striking. Then add Brian Easdale's broadly descriptive music score - it's almost motion picture perfection. Anyone who knows how to visually ‘read' a vintage classic should see this amazing film. The Studio Canal remastered DVD treatment is most impressive in its visual quality and sound.

    It's easy for some viewers to sit back in their easy chair and criticize works (often made before they were born) for the lack of special effects - this superior work is about character, not spectacular effects. Effects in this era were limited to rear projection or models, and when tackling a subject serious as this - knowing the majority of audiences prefer a happy ending - you weren't going to make a lot of money. It was brave enough of master filmmaker Carol Read (or any movie maker) to take on a Joseph Conrad novel, let alone one as detailed as An Outcast of the Islands. Outcast, like other Conrad writings, is an in-depth study of a heart filled with darkness, a soul on a path of selfish self-destruction. Trevor Howard is superb as Willems, a waif taken under the protective wing of a kindly sea captain (Ralf Richardson) who offers a guiding hand and employment in his trading business. When Willems attempts to go it alone, his all-consuming greed takes control - leading him to fraudulently cheat his employers at every opportunity. Forced on the run he goes into hiding, relying once more on his kindly benefactor. It's here he forms a dalliance with the sultry daughter of a conniving local chieftain - creating deeper complications. Robert Morley is equally excellent as yet another opportunistic ‘fortune-hunter' who marries the boss's daughter to secure employment and a home – while waiting in the wings to take over the business. Wonderful Wendy Hiller is the daughter/wife treated as a dishrag and mother to their daughter. Her role is an alteration from Conrad's original native girl - possibly to make the film more appealing in the world marketplace, and while a secondary character she's always a joy to see. The eventual showdown between adopted father and his corrupt charge is dynamic in its setting and verbal power – making this a perfect (while slightly flawed) masterpiece – a vividly detailed examination of morality over immorality. Between Reed's intelligent direction, William Fairchild's biting screenplay and the combined photographic talents of Ted Scaife (The Third Man) John Wilcox (The Last Valley) Ted Moore (Man for all Seasons) and Freddie Francis (The Elephant Man) making up the splendid Cinematography team. Shooting in rugged tropical locations in stark B/W, nothing could be visually more striking. Then add Brian Easdale's broadly descriptive music score - it's almost motion picture perfection. Anyone who knows how to visually ‘read' a vintage classic should see this amazing film. The Studio Canal remastered DVD treatment is most impressive in its visual quality and sound.

  • Aug 13, 2016

    Carol Reed is one of my favorite directors. This isnot The Third Man but it's still a fascinating film. His trademark incredible cinematography, of exquisite locations and outdoor shots, and close-ups of all sorts of faces, all work together to create a mood. On this island all the characters are full of secrets and surprises. The camera obscures and reveals at once, the emotions on the surface and suggested. Corruption, dishonesty, exploitation, greed, lust, alcoholism, distrust and an occasional bit of humor are all on display, as are the people and cultural landscapes of Sri Lanka. The theme of British colonialist exploitation of indigenous people is dominant throughout, not only with the "trading" of tin and rubber but also with the desire to possess and control the people whose lands are exploited. One of my favorite characters is Babalatchi, the head man's sly second-in-command. He's the only one who seems to be in control of his emotions at all times. The chief's daughter is only the second female lead I can recall who never had any lines. (The first being Elsa Lanchester's Bride of Frankenstein.) I'd give it a full 5 stars except for Trevor Howard's occasional over-acting. Mostly he's great, though, as an amoral, alcoholic and misogynistic scoundrel. This is no Major Calloway of The Third Man. Howard is mostly convincing in his portrayal, and it shows he has real range as an actor.

    Carol Reed is one of my favorite directors. This isnot The Third Man but it's still a fascinating film. His trademark incredible cinematography, of exquisite locations and outdoor shots, and close-ups of all sorts of faces, all work together to create a mood. On this island all the characters are full of secrets and surprises. The camera obscures and reveals at once, the emotions on the surface and suggested. Corruption, dishonesty, exploitation, greed, lust, alcoholism, distrust and an occasional bit of humor are all on display, as are the people and cultural landscapes of Sri Lanka. The theme of British colonialist exploitation of indigenous people is dominant throughout, not only with the "trading" of tin and rubber but also with the desire to possess and control the people whose lands are exploited. One of my favorite characters is Babalatchi, the head man's sly second-in-command. He's the only one who seems to be in control of his emotions at all times. The chief's daughter is only the second female lead I can recall who never had any lines. (The first being Elsa Lanchester's Bride of Frankenstein.) I'd give it a full 5 stars except for Trevor Howard's occasional over-acting. Mostly he's great, though, as an amoral, alcoholic and misogynistic scoundrel. This is no Major Calloway of The Third Man. Howard is mostly convincing in his portrayal, and it shows he has real range as an actor.

  • Feb 08, 2016

    A disappointment from director Carol Reed, who'd directed some classics before this, and would do again. The south seas setting is never utilised to its full, but Trevor Howard's character never gets endearing, in a story that has the same problem. Robert Morley puts in the best performance of the film, a world away from the pompous comedic characters he so often played in British comedies of the period.

    A disappointment from director Carol Reed, who'd directed some classics before this, and would do again. The south seas setting is never utilised to its full, but Trevor Howard's character never gets endearing, in a story that has the same problem. Robert Morley puts in the best performance of the film, a world away from the pompous comedic characters he so often played in British comedies of the period.

  • Mar 30, 2015

    a look at what happens when a white person goes native

    a look at what happens when a white person goes native

  • Aug 02, 2013

    After being involved in a swindle, the captain of a trading vessel takes him to his island outpost. There, however, he betrays his friend by falling in love with the daughter of the tribal chief. Carol Reed's uneasy follow up to the masterpiece The Third Man is still a strong portrait of betrayal and evil, a melodrama with elements of suspense and thriller. Though it suffers from dead moments, it benefits from the strong performances by Howard and RIchardson.

    After being involved in a swindle, the captain of a trading vessel takes him to his island outpost. There, however, he betrays his friend by falling in love with the daughter of the tribal chief. Carol Reed's uneasy follow up to the masterpiece The Third Man is still a strong portrait of betrayal and evil, a melodrama with elements of suspense and thriller. Though it suffers from dead moments, it benefits from the strong performances by Howard and RIchardson.

  • Jul 30, 2012

    mag in den 50ern aufregend gewesen sein....das ist jetzt aber auch schon ne weile her :)

    mag in den 50ern aufregend gewesen sein....das ist jetzt aber auch schon ne weile her :)

  • Nov 06, 2011

    Fine adaptation of the Conrad novel.

    Fine adaptation of the Conrad novel.

  • Sep 29, 2009

    Trevor Howard is terrific in the anti-hero role, but the rest of the cast is blah. Wendy Hiller is a fine actress, but here her talents are wasted in a very small role. The drama is something you can sink your teeth into, but Reed's direction is lackluster, especially coming off of The Third Man. There are a few noteworthy scenes, the rest of it doesn't seem to have much heart or thought in it. Also, it's rife with lousy rear projection.

    Trevor Howard is terrific in the anti-hero role, but the rest of the cast is blah. Wendy Hiller is a fine actress, but here her talents are wasted in a very small role. The drama is something you can sink your teeth into, but Reed's direction is lackluster, especially coming off of The Third Man. There are a few noteworthy scenes, the rest of it doesn't seem to have much heart or thought in it. Also, it's rife with lousy rear projection.

  • Jul 24, 2009

    Unfortunately I don't remember it very well. But I do recall to have left the theater with the same smile as the one I had reading my first Conrad novel.

    Unfortunately I don't remember it very well. But I do recall to have left the theater with the same smile as the one I had reading my first Conrad novel.

  • Aug 24, 2008

    ive always found carol reed's to be dull but interesting and this is no exception. his direction is always exceptional but there is a dullness in the extreme britishness f it all

    ive always found carol reed's to be dull but interesting and this is no exception. his direction is always exceptional but there is a dullness in the extreme britishness f it all