Opening Statement

A group of castaways marooned on a remote island!

Review

The film opens with a group of people booking passage to China. We quickly see the major characters and their personalities. The nurse fleeing a bad marriage, a pair of munitions salesmen form rival firms, a pompous senator, a spoiled heiress and a pair of underworld characters.

The seaplane they are traveling in soon crash lands during a storm, killing the pilot and most of the crew. The survivors find themselves washed ashore on a tropical island.

Sinners in paradise not a good sign bob odierna
Never a good thing to see in the air.

Sinners in paradise senator foghorn bo odierna
Senator Foghorn. With that much hot air he’s unsinkable!

To their surprise they find that there is someone already living there. The mysterious Mr. Taylor and his servant Ping.

Sinners in paradise the mysterious mr taylor bob odierna
Mr. Taylor. he’s VERY mysterious, and tragic too.

Taylor is mysteriously reluctant to help them escape the island. Insisting that their troubles aren’t his problem and refusing them the use of his boat. He also forces them to forage for their own food and take care of themselves. Some take to it better than others, naturally, the senator and heiress being the loudest complainers.

The rest of the film is spent trying to figure out what makes Taylor tick and what criminal or misdemeanor past he is fleeing from. All kinds of dark theories of murder and police pursuit are run through in the film. The actual conclusion is unfortunately underwhelming.

This film is unusual in that it manages to be odd and stereotypical at the same time. The characters are cardboard cut-outs straight from central casting. Loud mouthed politician and spoiled heiress being two popular models in that era of film. How they are used is interesting. Instead of the gangster and gun moll being the villains of the film, the two salesman are. In fact they are portrayed in about the most negative light possible while the two criminals are anti-heroes at worst, very unusual for a code era film.

Sinners in paradise weaponized salesmen bob odierna
Weaponized salesmen. Seriously, these guys make used car salesman seem easy going.

Sinners in paradise mobsters in love bob odierna
They’re not really bad, just misunderstood.

The problem with the film is that it can’t seem to decide if it’s an adventure, a mystery or a comedy. Any dramatic tension or sense of danger is completely destroyed by mistimed attempts at humor.

The camera work and lighting are competent, but not spectacular. There are some fairly obvious miniatures in the plane crash sequence and most of the “island” is obviously set based. The sound is typically inconsistent for a mid to late 30’s B picture.

The acting is poor to average with a few people underperforming while others such as the senator hamming it up to 11. Especially offensive is the portrayal of Ping, the servant, which manages to hit every racist stereotype possible.

Verdict 1.5 Gavels out of 5 Odd little B picture that tries to do too many things in its 1 hour runtime. The mix of adventure, mystery and drama feels forced and the clichéd and sometimes racist characters don’t help things.

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