The great John Ford directed this rousing 1937 adventure with such invigorating physicality that the movie is never compromised by its cornball plot. It's an island adventure from the old school of tall tales, and the titl... more »e says it all--the tropical romance between native girl Dorothy Lamour and suntanned hunk Jon Hall is established simply so it can be tested by a meddlesome island governor (Raymond Massey) and a tropical storm that provides one of the most physically impressive climaxes ever filmed. The storm remains as awesome as ever simply because it triumphantly captures the power of nature in the throes of a raging tempest. Massive waves, driving wind, and expert use of miniatures make The Hurricane a marvel of late-1930s special effects, but the sheer spectacle is more than matched by Ford's efficient economy of story. The romance is lush and primitive, in keeping with the sun-drenched setting on the fictional island of Manikoora, and as Hall's heroic character must endure wrongful imprisonment and the rigors of escape, Ford maintains a constant atmosphere of foreboding. The director's masterful use of sound and picture is best captured in the lonely peal of a church bell--it's both a reaffirming sign of life and, when the bell finally goes silent, a dreaded signal that the hurricane has taken its ultimate toll. --Jeff Shannon« less
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 01/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Director John Ford's awesome drama set in the fictitious French South Sea island of Manikoora is a film portraying the love between native islanders Marama played by a sultry and saronged Dorothy Lamour and bronzed hunk Jon Hall playing Terangi. The joyous union between this couple in this idyllic tropical setting is soon shattered. The story is narrated by Thomas Mitchell playing Dr. Kersaint who is reminiscing about Manikoora as he returns on a cruise ship.
Terangi is the toast of the island, an expert sailor and first mate on a local sailing ship. On a trip to Tahiti, a racial slur against him and his mates results in an assault of a white skinned local bully. Hall breaks the man's jaw and is sentenced to a 6 month sentence. Abhoring confinement and suffering against inhumanne treatment by a sadistic warden played by John Carradine, Hall's sentence gets extended to 16 years owing to numerous unsuccessful prison breaks. The governor of Manikoora, De Laage played by Raymond Massey, whose overzealousness in his views on justice and how the rule the islanders refuses to intercede on Hall's behalf. Stubbornly against the advice of his wife played by Mary Astor, Father Paul, the local priest played by C. Aubrey Smith and Mitchell playing the doctor, he lets Hall rot in jail.
Finally after 8 years, Hall escapes embarking on a perilous 600 mile journey to return to his wife Lamour and their daughter who he's never seen. As if on cue the winds start picking up as if God is voicing his displeasure. What follows is the most outstanding depiction of a murderously devastating Pacific typhoon I have ever seen. The filming done on 1937 San Catalina Island was so realistic as to be incomprehensible as to how it was attained, with a roaring sea crashing in, trees being uprooted and dwellings being pulverized. The total destruction of the island was filmed in about a 15 minute jaw dropping sequence leaving few survivors.
Never having seen this outstanding film before, I would have to put it near the top in the magnificent resume of director John Ford's work."
Cory D. Slipman | 06/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't watch this dvd if you are afraid of hurricanes! The last time I saw this marvelous John Ford film was on the morning of August 23, 1992-AMC Movie Channel, as bad coincidence would have it, was broadcasting The Hurricane, as Hurricane Andrew was tear- ing into Miami. I don't know which was more terrifying, the winds outside, smashing trees to the ground-or seeing the priest playing the organ as the walls came caving in, and the churchbell silenced........it is, for it's time, THE most realistic depict- ion of a hurricane as you are likely to get. And very advanced social commentary, that the imposition of rigidly-observed col- onial rules damaged those whom it was imposed on, that it drained the life out of them. Not to mention rigidity on a personal lev- el wrecked relationships, ruining love. Rather a parable of para dise lost and destroyed-to great effect. What could have been a humdrum boring sermon became an electrifying tale under the sure hand of John Ford. John Hall and Dorothy Lamour really never had such a workout of their craft again! Doesn't spare any puches. There's a terrifying scene of an is- lander mother giving birth in a canoe, surrounded by her family and the doctor, being jounced around and battered by the storm in all it's fury-you have to buy this. You won't regret it. It has not lost any of it's punch, it is as applicable today as then."
A special effects storm that has never been surpassed
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 09/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The main reason to watch this 1937 film directed by John Ford is for the special effects as the title storm wrecks the fictional island of Manukura and strips it clean of almost all of the trees and all of the people. Certainly the cornball romance in "The Hurricane" between the native girl Marama (Dorothy Lamour) and the sailor Terangi (Jon Hall) is not particularly captivating. Terangi is unjustly imprisoned for a murder he did not commit and escapes just as a hurricane strikes the island and makes it difficult for him to return to his wife while impact every other subplot in this film, which have to do with the sort of mix of racism and classism that existed between whites and Polynesians during that time. Things get rather melodramatic, but the key thing is that when the big storm blows in that you have the definite idea this is God's judgment on these people.
The story is told in flashback by Dr. Kersaint (Henry Mitchell in an Oscar nominated role for Best Supporting Actor) and we find that the island of Manukura was a place where the happy natives chaffed under the rigid rule of the French governor, Eugene De Laage (Raymond Massey). Terangi and Marama are married early in the film, first in a Christian ceremony by Father Paul (C. Aubrey Smith) and then by Chief Mehevi (Al Kikume) in a native one. However, Captain Nagle (Jerome Cowan) needs Terangi, who works as a navigator, to get the ship to Tahiti, so the honeymoon for the happy couple is really short. While on Tahiti, Terangi gets into trouble and ends up in prison, and except for Governor De Laage, everybody back on Manukura, is aware this is a gross injustice. So when Terangi escapes and accidentally kills a prison guard, De Laage intends to have him arrested and executed. Meanwhile, there is a big storm brewing as we get an ample reminder of why this film is entitled "The Hurricane."
The hurricane sequence is what justifies rounding up and giving this one five stars for this film as giant waves and battering winds destroy the sets and miniatures alike. You want wind and water signifying fury, then "The Hurricane" provide each, working in a lot less stock footage of an actual storm than you might suspect. Let me put it this way: the special effects in this 1937 film are at least as impressive as anything you see in "The Perfect Storm" (Do not be surprised that special effects from this decade can be so effective: was anything in "Twister" more impressive than the stocking they used for the tornado in "The Wizard of Oz"?). The film was adapted by Oliver H.P. Garrett into a screenplay by Dudley Nichols, with some uncredited help from Ben Hecht, from the novel by James Norman Hall and Charles Nordhoff (authors of "Mutiny on the Bounty"). The supporting cast features Mary Astor as the more sympathetic wife of the governor and John Carradine as the sadistic warden. If you can track down a copy of "The Hurricane" check it out, but do not do so on a dark and stormy night. "
Category 5 Hurricane
Wayne Myers | Arlington, VA USA | 02/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Bliss of islanders Terangi (Hall) and Marama (Lamour) is threatened by overzealous, rigid (yet tenderly devoted to wife Germaine) colonial governor De Laage (Massey), obsessed with the letter of the law--until nature intervenes to settle the conflict and soften De Laage's heart. Enduring a lengthy period of false incarceration, Terangi is reunited with beloved Marama and young daughter Tita--on the eve of the hurricane that will overwhelm their tiny island, yet ironically, despite great human toll, reconcile persecutor and persecuted. Awesome, riveting hurricane sequence still is unsurpassed after more than sixty years. Ever intensifying gale force winds tear away the tattered tricolor, signalling the end of colonial government's vain attempt to impose bureaucratic order on the island. Storm surge violently and indiscriminately carries away trappings of church and state, as nature asserts its primacy over man. Top notch cast, especially Mary Astor as De Laage's gracious wife Germaine, more than hold their own with the hurricane--the real star of the film."
The Hurricane starring Jon Hall 1937
Gary McGuire | Waterbury, CT USA | 05/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
I watched on it on my portable 7" DVD player and cannot wait to rerun it on the larger TV. It was in one word spectacular. The special effects of 1937 made the hurricane scenes come alive. You don't need the computer generated effects of a movie such as the new STAR WARS to hold your interest. Sure its Black and White but that makes it even better. Bravo John Ford, Bravo Jon Hall, and Bravo to Amazon.com for making this classic 1937 film available. Five Stars plus from Connecticut."