Flame of the Islands (1956)

Flame of the Islands (1956) is a social climbing society and marlin fishin' color film noir  crime melodrama from Republic Pictures.

Strange and colorful and with the gaudiest Christmas tree in all of color noir and maybe all of Hollywood's golden age, Flame of the Islands is bright and cheap and made by men with color palettes in mind. 

Is this fare classifiable as noir in the hallowed flaming halls of sacred cinema or is this flaming flambeuax of a mock camp full color crime melodrama, an exercise in the colour red?

Hard to say what kind of noir this is, other than a bright red plastic tinsel Christmas tree of all out weirdness that is disappointingly not rescued from kitsch by camp and rescued from thrills by an noir sensibility that might have been able to make it across the colour divide.

Flame of the Islands, the wild ride of a tale that's got more twists and turns than a roller coaster on steroids! Strap yourselves in, folks, 'cause we're diving headfirst into a whirlwind of passion, revenge, and redemption!

Now, forget what you've heard about this flick being just about a woman and her tangled love life. No, no, my friends, this is a story of three fierce femmes who ain't afraid to take life by the horns and ride it straight into the sunset!

First up, we've got Rosalind Dee, played by the fiery Yvonne de Carlo. She's a good gal gone bad, driven by a burning desire for revenge against the woman who tore her world apart. But here's the kicker – her quest for payback ends up hurting the very folks she never meant to harm! Talk about a plot twist that'll leave your head spinning faster than a top on caffeine!

But hold onto your hats, 'cause we ain't done yet! We've got Frieda Inescort in the role of the scorned wife, and let me tell you, she's serving up some serious sass and class. Then there's Barbara O'Neil as the protective mama bear, ready to do whatever it takes to shield her cub from harm. These ladies ain't playing games, folks – they're playing for keeps!

Zachary Scott in Flame of the Islands (1956)

Now, don't get me wrong, the heart of this story is as juicy as a ripe peach on a hot summer day. It's a gripping tale of love, loss, and longing, and you'll find yourself rooting for our leading ladies every step of the way. But just when you think you've got it all figured out, bam! The movie throws in some cheap melodrama that's about as out of place as a penguin in the Sahara.

But fear not, dear viewers, 'cause we've still got James Arness in the mix, playing a lay preacher with a heart of gold and a voice that could make angels weep. And let me tell you, there's nothing quite like the sight of tough guys belting out "Jesus Loves Me" to lift your spirits and leave you grinning from ear to ear!

So buckle up, buttercups, 'cause Flame of the Islands is one wild ride you won't soon forget! It's a whirlwind of drama, excitement, and downright insanity that'll leave you breathless and begging for more!

Listen up, folks, 'cause I'm about to lay it all out for you – Trucolor, the talk of the town, the sensation that rocked the silver screen like a hurricane in a teacup!

Republic Pictures birthed Trucolor with one thing in mind – to flip the script on how we see movies. It strutted onto the scene in the late '40s, a swaggering sensation ready to steal the show and leave the competition eating dust.

But Trucolor wasn't just another run-of-the-mill color process – oh no, it was a game-changer, a trailblazer, a force to be reckoned with! It started off as a two-color wonder, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it evolved into a three-color masterpiece that left audiences spellbound.

Imagine this – bold hues, vibrant shades, and a kaleidoscope of colors exploding off the screen like a Fourth of July fireworks show. Trucolor didn't just paint pictures – it created living, breathing works of art that dazzled the senses and left jaws on the floor.

And the films! Oh, the films! Trucolor wasn't just for Westerns, although it sure knew how to make those cowboys look like a million bucks. It lit up the screen with everything from musical comedies to epic adventures, from gritty noirs to heartwarming romances. You name it, Trucolor could do it – and do it with flair!

But Trucolor wasn't content to stay cooped up in the studio – oh no, it took its show on the road, capturing the wonders of the world in all their Technicolor glory. From the mean streets of New York City to the fiery depths of Krakatoa, Trucolor was there, camera in hand, ready to capture every breathtaking moment.

Even Hollywood's heavy hitters couldn't resist Trucolor's siren song. Directors like John Ford and Nicholas Ray jumped aboard the Trucolor train, using its magic to bring their visions to life in ways they never dreamed possible. And when John Ford gives the nod to Trucolor over Technicolor, you know you've struck gold!

Oh, dear cinephiles, let us delve into the tumultuous depths of "Flame of the Islands," a cinematic voyage as mesmerizing as the tropical breeze caressing the sun-kissed shores of the Bahamas – a veritable paradise that serves as the backdrop for our celluloid odyssey.

Behold the stunning cinematography, a symphony of hues that dance upon the screen like a canvas painted by the divine hand of nature itself. The luscious landscapes of the Bahamas, still under the gentle embrace of British colonial rule, unfurl before our eyes, a testament to the majesty of the natural world. And amidst this breathtaking panorama stands the ethereal beauty of Yvonne DeCarlo, a vision of loveliness that rivals the very essence of Aphrodite herself. Truly, she is a marvel to behold, a muse that elevates the film to dizzying heights of cinematic splendor.

Yet, dear audience, do not be deceived by the beguiling exterior, for beneath the surface lies a narrative as complex as the tangled threads of fate itself. "Flame of the Islands" weaves a tapestry of intrigue, blending the pulse-pounding excitement of an action-adventure epic with the poignant drama of a classic Back Street soap opera. At times, the convergence of these disparate elements may confound the uninitiated, but fear not, for therein lies the allure of the film – a riddle waiting to be unraveled, a mystery begging to be solved.

Enter the enigmatic Yvonne DeCarlo, a career woman thrust into the heart of a tempestuous affair with the widow Frieda Inescourt, portrayed with exquisite poise by her on-screen counterpart. A clandestine exchange of hush money sets the stage for a journey into the depths of human desire, as DeCarlo embarks on a daring venture to establish a gambling club in partnership with the enigmatic Kurt Kaszner. Ah, but tread carefully, dear viewers, for Kaszner's shadow looms large, casting a pall of uncertainty over our intrepid heroine's endeavors.

Male inaction in Flame of the Islands (1956)
with Howard Duff and Zachary Scott

Accompanying DeCarlo on her tumultuous journey are a cast of characters as diverse as the colors of the Bahamian sunset. From the preacher-cum-beachcomber James Arness to the society lion Howard Duff and his beguiling consort Barbara O'Neil, each player in this grand theatrical production adds their own unique flavor to the unfolding drama. Yet, it is the palpable tension between DeCarlo and her male admirers that truly ignites the screen, a smoldering inferno of passion and desire that threatens to consume all in its path.

Amidst the twinkling lights and festive cheer of Christmas, a shadow of melancholy hangs over the heart of Rosalind. Doug's invitation to his holiday gathering casts a pall over her spirit, despite her protests echoing in the hollow chambers of her soul. She knows all too well that Charmaine, Doug's beloved, would not look kindly upon her presence, yet the allure of companionship beckons her to his doorstep.

Cyril, ever the charlatan, presents Rosalind with an extravagant necklace, a token of affection cloaked in deceit. His passionate advances are met with a firm rebuke, but his insistent pleas fall upon deaf ears as she pushes him away, her resolve unyielding against his persistent advances.

As Rand escorts Rosalind to Doug's abode, his somber warning lingers in the frosty night air, a chilling reminder of Cyril's nefarious intentions. The club, a den of iniquity, holds no solace for one such as Rosalind, ensnared in the tangled web of deceit and desire.

Arriving at the Duryea's, the festive façade belies the turmoil that simmers beneath the surface. Doug's revelation to his mother, the horror etched upon her visage, casts a pall over the joyous occasion. Amidst the revelry of the party, Doug and Rosalind's engagement rings out like a mournful dirge, a union born of secrets and shadows.

Charmaine, her facade crumbling like delicate lace, struggles to conceal her distress as she congratulates the newly betrothed couple. Yet, beneath her fragile facade, a tempest of emotions rages, threatening to consume her fragile composure.

The arrival of Evelyn Hammond, a specter from Rosalind's past, casts a pall over the festivities. The air crackles with tension as accusations fly, secrets laid bare in the harsh light of truth. Rosalind's defiance meets Evelyn's indignation, their clash echoing through the hallowed halls of Doug's ancestral home.

The band - Flame of the Islands (1956)

As Christmas Eve unfolds, a sense of foreboding grips Rosalind's heart, her fate hanging in the balance. Rand's impulsive gesture, a kiss shared in the spirit of the season, serves as a bittersweet reminder of the fleeting nature of happiness. Amidst the joyous carols and twinkling lights, Rosalind's soul remains adrift, caught in the tempestuous currents of love and betrayal.

The crowd - Flame of the Islands (1956)

And so, dear cineastes, I leave you with a tantalizing question – amidst the swirling currents of love and betrayal, who shall emerge victorious in the game of hearts? Ah, but such revelations await only those brave enough to embark on the journey themselves. "Flame of the Islands," a subpar soap opera? Nay, I say, for in the hands of Yvonne DeCarlo and her bewitching allure, even the mundane is transformed into pure cinematic magic.

But Trucolor wasn't just about the big shots – it had a soft spot for the little guys too. Cartoons, travelogues, limited animation – Trucolor did it all, spreading its technicolor magic far and wide for all to see.

So here's to Trucolor, the little engine that could – may its colors shine bright for eternity, lighting up the silver screen like never before!

Finally, Flame of the Islands is shot like a science fiction movie, in frozen frames of disbelief, in scenery staring slow wonder at the unravelling of reality. There is something about this picture that is strictly anti-noir, filled with progressive blankness, an emptiness of vision that can only be 1950s futurity.


Directed by Edward Ludwig

Screenplay by Bruce Manning

Story by Adele Comandini

Produced by Edward Ludwig

Starring Yvonne De Carlo *  Howard Duff * Zachary Scott

Cinematography Bud Thackery

Edited by Richard L. Van Enger

Music by Nelson Riddle

Color process Trucolor

Production company

Republic Pictures

Distributed by Republic Pictures

Release date  January 6, 1956

Running time 90 minutes


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