White Savage (1943)
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This frothy fantasy adventure centers upon the exotic romance between a shark fisherman (the sharks he captured are used for the manufacture of vitamin A) and the beautiful princess of Temple Island. They meet when the fisherman asks a young boy with royal connections to introduce him to the princess so he can ask for permission to fish the teeming waters near the island. The boy introduces the hunter to the girl and love immediately blossoms until he makes his request. She believes that he is really only looking for a way to steal the treasure located in the temple pool, and she banishes him. The boy has other plans for them though. At the same time, a crooked treasure-seeking trader conspires to get the booty for himself.. A major confrontation between good guys and bad eventually ensues with wild accusations flying like palm fronds in a hurricane. The shark hunter is accused of murder and imprisoned. Once again, the brave boy comes to his rescue and together they set out to prove his innocence. The story reaches its climax at the great temple that gave the island its name. A terrible earthquake ensures that the villains get their due.
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I saw the movie when I was a kid and loved it. Why, then, is "Cobra Woman" from the same period very good and
pleasantly watchable ?
Yet despite its routine formula WHITE SAVAGE manages to make some significant political points. It asks us to reflect on Hall's behavior as a white settler in a native village, and to consider whether he learns the importance of racial integration, or whether he simply approaches life there on his own terms. Lubin does not offer any concrete answer, but contrasts Hall's generally amenable nature with arch-colonist Sam Miller (Thomas Gomez), who wants to possess the Princess (Montex) for himself and take all the spoils as well.
The lure of filthy lucre is compelling. The Princess's brother Tamara (Turhan Bey) has sacrificed his native integrity for gambling, and is so in debt to Miller that he cannot save himself. Caught in a racial limbo between capitalism and tradition, he cuts a pathetic figure with his open floral neck shirt, his generally woebegone manner and his tendency to drown his sorrows in tobacco and alcohol. In the end he is knifed to death: we might feel that this comes as something of a welcome release for a man who eagerly sought the false rewards of capitalism and suffered thereby. It is significant that the role should have been essayed by Turhan Bey, an Austrian-born Turkish actor who made a habit of playing racially and ethnically complicated parts at this time.
The film ends with a spectacular set-destruction, as the colonists finally overreach themselves and incur the wrath of the pagan god, proving beyond doubt the ineffectiveness of human interactions with the universal. Hall and Montez end up getting married and having a baby - the perfect example, it would seem, of a racially mixed marriage. Or perhaps not, as this is a Hollywood fantasy.
aka La Salvaje Blanca
(Action/Adventure, 1 hr 15 min, Technicolor)
Jon Hall, Sabú, Turhan Bey, Maria Montez (As: Princess Tahia)
Hall is a fisherman (Kaloa) who hunts sharks for the vitamin A in their livers. He seeks permission to fish in the waters surrounding Temple Island--ruled by princess Tahia (Montez)--by asking Oramo (Sabu), the son of the princess's maid, to arrange a meeting. Sabu brings Hall to the island, and the fisherman and Montez immediately fall in love.
When Princess Tahia kissed him, she said:
Kaloa, you do not need vitamin A !
But when Hall asks to fish the local waters, she assumes that he is only out to get the treasure in the island's pool and orders him from the island, though they reconcile when Sabu arranges another meeting.
Meanwhile, trader Gomez, who is after the treasure, involves Montez's brother, Tamara (Turhan Bey), in a rigged card game, trying to make him lose the deed to the island. Hall, however, joins the game and wins the deed, angering Bey, who strikes him.
The next day the inhabitants of Temple Island are celebrating the engagement of Montez and Hall when Gomez arrives with word that Bey has been murdered and that the evidence points to Hall. The shark hunter is locked up until Sabu helps him to escape and prove his innocence.
Gomez arrives to plunder the treasure pool, but an earthquake topples the temple, crushing the villains, and Montez and Hall live on in wedded bliss.
This was the second teaming of Hall and Montez (ARABIAN NIGHTS  was the first). They would be reunited four more times, often with Sabu.
Some dresses Maria wears in some scenes were too impudent for the days of 1943, they had to cut some scenes which affected the comprehension of certain sequencies.