Once upon a time there was a small edition of a chariot race in "Ben Hur," a minute earthquake in "San Francisco," and, unless memory fails, it seems the locusts came to call in "The Good Earth"; a few hundred extras were shot or trampled on in "Charge of the Light Brigade," but to see nature in the raw without once thinking of miniatures, wind machines, or water chutes, to see the best love scenes in many a moviegoing month, to experience two full hours of complete mental anguish, a trip to "Hurricane" is essential.
The story is based on the somewhat dubious theme that a child of nature should not be forced to endure the strict letter of the white man's law, but before the film is half an hour old, one hates the stupidity of colonial government and everything about it. There is an express- ive and all inclusive word which fits the characters presented by Messrs. Raymond Massey and John Carradine to a T. Mr. Massey feels it incumbent upon him to dog the innocent tracks of Jon Hall, native swimmer, sailor, lover, and physical specimen extraordinary, Mr. Carradine taking a sadistic pleasure in trying to break the will of the same. And all the while Mr. Hall is suffering from the folly he does not understand, a lovely wife, Dorothy Lamour, is waiting on the island paradise of Manukura for the end of her husband's ever increasing prison term.
Mr. Hall finally succeeds in escaping frim his Tahitian cell and proceeds to guide a canoe over six hundred miles of open ocean to Manukura. Strange as it may seem, the incidents in his journey are so well chosen that the laments of good luck or coincidence never destroy the suspense. Then comes, perhaps, the greatest climax that has yet been seen on any screen to date--the hurricane. Those shots of stupendous seas and wind and the devastation which they cause to the island and its inhabitants cannot adequately be described. After seeing "Hurricane" one feels that one has been through a harrowing experience oneself--a feeling that the screen only conveys once in a great while.
There is but one criticism to be made. Anything following so terrific a holocaust seems to sag very badly, but one is so glad to see any survivors at all that the deplorably week ending makes up for its deficiencies in motive and dialogue by sending the audience home happy.
Bouquets to the supporting cast, to Alfred Newman for his powerful score, to Nordoff and Hall for their splendid story, and especially to Producer Goldwyn for his "touch" and for his perspicacity in building a splendidly effective set which he proceeds to tear down with even greater effectiveness.
For character portrayal, photography, sympathetic treatment, and climax, "Hurricane" is one picture in a million