American film audiences should feel obliged to nominate Leon Gordon's resurrection of "White Cargo" in movie form as one of the year's foremost blunders. Although a well-handled advertising campaign may give this production large box office receipts, it can do little to repair the damage done to the acting prestige of Walter Pidgeon, Richard Carlson, and Hedy Lamarr. These three are the victims of a plot and setting as hackneyed as any the film industry has seen.
The story, dated and ludicrous, is relieved only occasionally by a few amusing and probably unintentional remarks, as well as the frequent appearance of Hedy Lamarr clad in nothing but a lurong and a quart of stain. As a savage the Austrian-born star is far from convincing, however, despite her interpretation of a native hooch cooch dance that is more a la Old Howard than African.
Walter Pidgeon plays the short-tempered, sex-proof overseer of an African rubber plantation, whose greatest problems are monotonous isolation and attempts to keep an assistant at the jungle outpost for longer than six months. The film begins with the arrival of a new assistant (Richard Carlson), whose many good intentions are soon destroyed by the dry rot and the charms of scheming Tondelayo (Lamarr). As soon as Carlson starts laying in "many silks and bangles" for the gold digging Tondelayo his days are numbered, but before he returns to civilization with a good case of malaria he manages to marry the native minx and thereby snap a few more of boss Pidgeon's nerves. Carlson, Pidgeon, and Frank Morgan (the liquor soaked company doctor) deserve credit for their efforts to add a bit of plausibility to this much over rated story, but the odds are against them.