Movie Diary 3/29/2020

Outcast of the Islands (Carol Reed, 1951). This is Reed’s next film after The Third Man: an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novel (which I read too long ago to remember in a detailed way). The treatment here is full of densely-composed frames and scenes that sometimes have a manic pace; on both counts, it seems as though the influence of Orson Welles loomed large on Reed’s approach. Trevor Howard plays the greedy anti-hero, fetched up in a jungly outpost (shot in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon) and plotting against the ship captain (Ralph Richardson) who saved his life. Robert Morley and Wendy Hiller run the colonial mercantile business at the outpost, and Morley’s real-life daughter (you can’t mistake the resemblance) plays their kid. The physical production of the port is an amazing jumble of pier and docks and little canoes scudding around; Reed really had a talent for creating these kinds of crowded cultures. Howard is terrific in a very nervy, jumpy performance, a true scoundrel on the make. The native woman he pursues is played by Kerima, who later married this film’s assistant director, future 007 helmer Guy Hamilton.

 

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