A dull sequel to a fairly tame movie (HAWAII), this one continues with James Michener's story but has the disadvantage of a supremely wooden Heston. Heston is the grandson of the character portrayed by Richard Harris in HAWAII. He comes to Hawaii and brings with him a shipful of Chinese
slaves who have been--almost, but not quite--shanghaied to work the fields. Upon arriving he learns that his grandfather's fortune was left to his cousin McCowen (played by four actors in HAWAII, two of whom were Max Von Sydow's sons), a middle-aged man. Heston refuses to work for McCowen and
starts his own rival ranch using the Asians, two of whom are Chen and Mako. With the help of engineer Knight, Heston drills for water, strikes the wet stuff, and can now farm the once-dry land. With Chen at his side he establishes a successful pineapple plantation. Heston is married to Chaplin, a
Hawaiian woman who does not like the white man's ways, so she takes their son (played by Martin, Paulsin, and Law as he ages from six to young manhood) away to raise him in her tradition. Meanwhile Chen's husband has contracted leprosy, so she goes with him to Molokai, the leper colony. Many years
pass and Chen comes back to the main island to learn that Heston has taken a Japanese mistress, Mayama. Stevens is the Hawaiian queen attempting to regain control, but Heston, by now a very powerful landowner, makes sure she doesn't succeed. McCowen is named the president of Hawaii but is
hard-pressed to handle the woes that beset the new republic. A plague causes the Chinese ghetto to be burned to the ground. Heston helps rebuild the scorched area and also wants to aid Chen, who is now ruined financially. In the end Heston's son and Chen's daughter Lee, are married, thus uniting
the two families.
This story, taken from the final pages of Michener's book, somehow managed to last more than two hours. It's historically well designed, but the acting and the script are all of one note--B flat. The highlight performance is by Chen, who must age from a young girl to a woman in her middle years
(in the book she lived to be 100 years old). Most of the actors are Asian, including Wedemeyer, the onetime football star who went on to many happy years with Jack Lord on TV's "Hawaii Five-O." Heston's acting is icy, as he plays the founder of a Hawaiian dynasty. Mako, who starred in SAND PEBBLES
with Steve McQueen, is better than the script. His and Chen's performances are the only two that remain memorable from THE HAWAIIANS. One of Gries's assistants was Newt Arnold, perhaps the best-known assistant director in the movies for more than 30 years. The film received an Oscar nomination for
Best Costume Design.
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- Rating: GP
- Review: A dull sequel to a fairly tame movie (HAWAII), this one continues with James Michener's story but has the disadvantage of a supremely wooden Heston. Heston is the grandson of the character portrayed by Richard Harris in HAWAII. He comes to Hawaii and bring… (more)