The Beachcomber

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This second film version of Somerset Maugham's Vessel of Wrath lacks the casual charm of the first (which starred Charles Laughton and Elsa Lanchester), but is otherwise quite entertaining. Robert Newton stars as Honorable Ted, a slovenly, bibulous South Sea Island beachcomber. The black sheep of a prominent British family, Ted is paid an annual salary to stay as far away from England as possible. Prim-and-proper missionary Martha (Glynis Johns), the sister of heathen-hating Welsh minister Owen (Paul Rogers), takes it upon herself to reform the intractable Ted. The script then goes off on a tangent not found in the Maugham original. Due to illness, Owen is unable to travel to a native village in an attempt to halt a cholera outbreak. So he sends Martha, with a reluctant Ted along as interpreter, to the village in his stead in an attempt to cure the tribal headman's daughter. After they fail, they and an intern are sentenced to a horrible death by the angry villagers. Despite the radicial differences in their separate acting styles, Robert Newton and Glynis Johns make a copacetic screen team. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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