White Savage (1943)

White Savage (1943)White Savage is a film released in 1943 by Universal Pictures. The film follows the story of a shark hunter who falls in love with the leader of a tropical island. White Savage was one of the first films released by Universal Pictures to use Technicolor production, and features an all-star cast.

White Savage was promoted with the tagline "The pagan love… savage excitements… dangers untamed… of a forbidden island paradise." White Savage was released on April 23, 1943, and has a brief running length of 76 minutes.

Cast and Crew of White Savage

White Savage was directed by Arthur Lubin and produced by George Waggner. Peter Milne wrote the original story, while Richard Brooks adapted it for the screen. Cinematographic responsibilities were shared by Lester White and William Snyder. Russell Schoengarth handled editing duties, while Charles Previn and Frank Skinner wrote the musical score. Natalie Kalmus served as Technicolor Color Consultant in post-production.

White Savage stars Maria Montez as Princess Tahia, Jon Hall as Kaloe, Sabu as Orano, Thomas Gomez as Sam Miller, Sidney Toler as Wong, Paul Guilfoyle as Erik, Turhan Bey as Tamara, and Don Terry as Chris. The supporting cast includes Constance Purdy, Al Kikume, Frederic Brunn, Anthony Warde, Pedro de Cordoba, Jim Mitchell, Bella Lewitzky, John Harmon, Minerva Urecal, and Kate Lawson.

Plot Synopsis for White Savage

White Savage begins in the South Seas, at Port Coral. Sam Miller, a merchant from Germany, is informed by Frank Williams, a fisherman, that Temple Island contains a swimming pool filled with gems and gold. Miller replies that he actually discovered the pool twelve years previous, and local leader Princess Tahia decided to forbid any white men from entering the island. Miller strangles Williams and hides from Princess Tahia, who is dismayed with Miller’s involvement with Tamara, her brother.

At the same time, Kaloe, a shark fisherman, is told by his friend Orano that Princess Tahia has decided to disallow him from fishing around Temple Island. Kaloe meets Princess Tahia, though he doesn’t realize who she is. He complains to Tahia that there must be some "old tub of lard" ruling Temple Island. Orana arranges for Kaloe to visit with Princess Tahia at a later time, but her anger causes her to instead have Orano’s mother impersonate her.

Kaloe soon realizes that Tahia is the actual leader of Temple Island, and develops a romantic interest in her. She exiles him from the island, believing that he’s only trying to procure fishing rights in the surrounding reefs. Kaloe borrows $1,500 from Wong to purchase a new fishing boat and supplies, and consults with Orano in order to win over Princess Tahia. Ultimately, they succeed, and Tahia gives the men a tour of the island, including the treasure-filled pool. Kaloe tells Tahia that he doesn’t care about the treasure, but that Miller may be.

Miller arrives at Temple Island with his Irish traveling partner, Erik. Erik also becomes romantically interested in Princess Tahia, but is dissuaded by Miller, who then asks Princes Tahia to marry him. Tahia rejects him and returns to Kaloe. Miller gives a land deed to Tahia’s brother Tamara, who uses it to wager in a game of poker. However, Kaloe is involved in the poker game as well, and ends up winning the deed.

Just as Tahia and Kaloe are about to announce their engagement, Miller arrives at Temple Island once again, carrying Tamara’s dead body. They deduce that Kaloe’s knife was used to kill Tamara, and Kaloe is wrongfully accused at locked in a lion’s den. Orano rescues him from the lion, and Orano and Kaloe consult Wong (a lawyer) in hopes of receiving legal advice. Kaloe, Orano, and Princess Tahia trick one of Miller’s henchmen into confessing to the murder. The henchman also says that Miller was involved in the crime.

Miller then decides to take the treasure from the pool by force, with the help of his gang. They use dynamite to bail the water of the pool, inadvertently starting an earthquake that kills Miller and his men, and destroys a large section of Temple Island. With Miller out of the way, Princess Tahia and Kaloe marry.

Critical Reception for White Savage

Critical reviews for White Savage were not especially positive at the time of its release. Critics cited poor acting performances, weak writing and directing, and unrealistic set design as the film’s primary weaknesses. However, White Savage was quite popular among moviegoers. The film was one of the first Technicolor films to see a widespread release, and provided a perfect form of escapism for audiences who were growing tired of the war.

In recent years, the film has become somewhat of a cult classic, and can occasionally be seen at midnight movie theaters. Card players will enjoy the poker scene in the movie, in which Kaloe wins back Tahia’s land deed. Unfortunately, White Savage is not currently available on DVD.