Translating the dark, moody prose of Joseph Conrad to the screen has never been easy. In this case, it was almost impossible. In 1919, Maurice Tourneur tried Conrad's story as a silent, then William Wellman attempted it again in 1932 as DANGEROUS PARADISE. This time, March is a man who has
taken refuge on a small island in the Dutch East Indies. His father had always told him that his fellow man could not be trusted and March agrees, so he's entrenched himself far from anywhere. March visits a neighboring island and meets Field, a musician who is marooned. She is fending off the
advances of the hotel keeper, and March takes her with him to his island. It isn't long before March falls in love with Field but still plans on sending her back to civilization on the next boat out. Meanwhile, the hotel man, angry over losing Field, tells Hardwicke, Cowan, and the near-idiot
Royce that March has a fortune hidden on his island, and the murderous trio head off to slit March's throat and take his money. The remainder of the picture is a cat-and-mouse game as March manages to fend them off and protect himself and Field. In the end, March finally realizes that he has to
stop being a recluse and come out into the world again.
The film drives home the point that if one is to grow and mature, one must accept that there is evil in the world, combat it, and appreciate the good that is also there (e.g. Field). March has been a coward who has avoided any sort of physical confrontation, but when he is forced to take steps he
reaches a better understanding of life. Hardwicke's performance as the tough, mean leader of the pack was a standout, and Cowan showed that he could play roles other than harassed lawyers or ineffective police officers. In an early cut of the movie, Alan Ladd was alleged to have played March as a
teenager, but it's never been seen. VICTORY gets tedious at times, and no amount of cinematic technique can conjure up the steamy tropics Conrad wrote about. The story was changed to fit the supposed tastes of the public, and fans of Conrad will not be pleased with the alterations. Many of the
Polish-Ukrainian author's works have been made into movies, including LORD JIM (1926, 1965), SABOTAGE (1937), AN OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS (1952), LAUGHING ANNE (1953), and even APOCALYPSE NOW owes a debt to his Heart of Darkness.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Translating the dark, moody prose of Joseph Conrad to the screen has never been easy. In this case, it was almost impossible. In 1919, Maurice Tourneur tried Conrad's story as a silent, then William Wellman attempted it again in 1932 as DANGEROUS PARADISE.… (more)