White Shadows in the South Seas

Robert Flaherty was to have co-directed but he bowed out, leaving W.S. Van Dyke on location in the South Seas to adapt a story of the white man's corruption of the island paradises. Stunning photography and some genuinely effective melodrama - with Monte Blue giving a tremendous performance as a drink-sodden doctor who finally refuses to stoop to the level of the genocidal colonizers - not only place White Shadows several cuts above standard Hollywood Polynesian fare, but rank it comparable to Murnau's Tabu and Flaherty's Moana. In fact, it could be argued that White Shadows is better than both in its poetic (Flaherty) drama (Murnau), and for its stronger politics.

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