My Thoughts On…Outcast Of The Islands
I disagree with the original Observer review quote that adorns the DVD cover ‘The most powerful film ever made in this country’. Even in 1952 this wouldn’t have been the case across British cinema and director Carol Reed himself had already made his masterpieces The Third Man and Odd Man Out by this point, but it’s still a rollicking and steamy colonial drama.
Trevor Howard is on fine form as a fugitive cad holing up in a remote island village where Ralph Richardson’s famous sailor has a trading post, overseen by Robert Morley, whose nose is put right out of joint by the arrival of Howard. Things get worse when he falls for a beautiful native girl, sending already tense relations boiling over.
A decent tale of the undoing of men, of the evils of greed, capitalism, colonialism, wrapped up in a sweltering tale of ego and selfishness. If some of the moments with the native children feel very pre-PC and the short combat scenes naturally stilted by age, the handling of it all as you’d expect from Reed and such a good cast feels fresh, modern and engaging. The ending, rain lashed and savagely downbeat is beautifully rendered. A gem.