Thursday, January 19, 2012

Carradine Martin!

Monsoon  (aka Isle of Forgotten Sins)  (Producers Releasing Corporation, 1943)

Before the Camera:

John Carradine  (House of Frankenstein)
Gale Sondergaard  (Sherlock Holmes and the Spider Woman)
Sidney Toler  (Charlie Chan in the Secret Service)
Frank Fenton  (A Scream in the Dark)
Rita Quigley  (Riot Squad)
Rick Vallin  (Ghosts on the Loose)
Tala Birell  (Bringing Up Baby)
Patti McCarty  (Bluebeard '44)
Betty Amann  (Nancy Drew...Reporter)
William Edmunds  (House of Frankenstein)
Veda Ann Borg (The Falcon in Hollywood)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Edgar G. Ullmer

Produced by Peter R Van Duinen

Written by Edgar G. Ulmer and Raymond L. Shrock

This microbudget programmer gives us John Carradine as a two fisted, bar fightin’ gold huntin’ skirt chasin’ tough guy named Mike Clancy hanging around the South Seas with his best frenemy Jack Burke (Fenton) and gal pal Marge (Sondergaard). For the first chunk of the 80 minute run time, not a lot happens; Carradine and Fenton fight, Sondergaard schemes, a gaggle of girls in sarongs hang around and hint that Marge might be running a brothel in the back of her bar; and these same girls periodically threaten to break into song.

Sidney Toler was so happy to be
using prepositions again...
 Then Sidney Toler pops up as some guy named Krogan looking like a more smiley Charlie Chan in a boat captain’s hat, and he brings along the movie’s plot – he lets it be known he’s got a pile of stolen gold hidden away and nobody but nobody is taking that gold away from him. This immediately sets the boys to fighting again as each plots his own plan to steal that stolen gold. And since they just happen to be master divers, it’s a lucky thing that gold is hidden in the deep waters out by Toler’s hideout. Eventually Clancy and Burke team up, though none too happily, and things take a turn for the skullduggerous when the stolen gold turns out to be a trap – seems Toler wants the boys out of the way before they really do come after his thieved hoard. Eventually, the title winds come a blowin’ for a disaster movie climax, albeit on a budget that wouldn’t have dry cleaned Irwin Allen’s ties 30 years later…

Gale Sondergaard likes the cut of John Carradine's jib...

Even though it’s a studiobound B picture, this turned out to be quite a bit of fun, and for a variety of reasons. The cast sets it off well, with old pros Carradine, Toler and Sondergaard adding immeasurable value; but it’s also the fact that despite a tiny budget, the filmmakers went on and told the story they wanted to tell, resorting to miniature sets and special effects to fill in the sequences that would have cost a pretty penny if filmed full scale.

I'd have said they used a GI Joe here,
but it's twenty years too early!
However, this just makes the movie all the more charming and fun to me – from the aerial shots of the bar on the water’s edge, through the underwater diving scenes done with miniature animatronic figures (a film first?) straight through to the monsoon-erific end sequence. There’s also a couple of great fights, and it’s fun to watch Carradine and Fenton start at each other, then with a cut to a wider shot their stunt doubles take over, impressively trashing the sets as they knock each other about. All in all, I would probably have found about ten minutes to shave from somewhere, just to bring that 80 down to 70 and really make this thing hum. Other than that, I had a good time with this one, and if you give it a chance, you might too!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At roughly 13:15, Frank Fenton throws a camoflaging "you and I" in between Let's and Get while trying to find accompaniment in vacating the premises.

Eye Candy ?

That's a sarong? No, that's a so right, you ask me!

You know what, for looking 40's hot in sarongs; for managing to sneak around the Hayes code playing almostitutes, and so I don't have to figure out which actress is which - the entire female cast is in! Welcome to the list, ladies!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Monsoon may be too low budget to
completely blow you away, but it'll give a good dousing
of entertainment to those so inclined."

You tell 'em, Buddha buddy! And until next we meet, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Cool movie! Who doesn't love a South Seas drunken adventure? John Carradine had a long and quite eclectic career which he passed on to his progeny.

  2. I've only seen movie from Edgar Ulmer, "The Amazing Transparent Man" - my goodness, what a cheesefest :-)

  3. Never saw it but from your review it certainly has that 40s South Pacific flavor. Did you say that the Veda Ann Borg character is Luana? WOW! I don't see my name in movies that often. COOL!

  4. Mel - It really is a cool little flick - and it is true - the Carradine family has been entertaining us with all kinds of ventures into different avenues of acting for something like 80 years - and it's still going strong, and now includes the next generation - Martha Plimpton, Ever Carradine. I hope they go on forever!

    Maynard - That is a cheesefest - this one is certainly silly - but I think it moves a bit better than TATM.

    Luana - Why do you think Ms. Borg got the coveted "And" spot at the end of the cast list? ;)