THE HURRICANE is still exciting to watch, eight decades after it made landfall in 1937. It’s the classic melodrama of Polynesian lovers on the isle of Manakoora, tormented by a despotic colonial governor. It takes a cataclysm to rectify things.
You can ignore the corn because it’s so well-directed (John Ford), the settings and photography are a pleasure, and the performances are sincere. Jon Hall is the hero, Dorothy Lamour (her first ‘sarong’ appearance) is the girl, Raymond Massey is the tyrant. Also on hand: Mary Astor, Thomas Mitchell, John Carradine (vicious jailer), Jerome Cowan and C.Aubrey Smith.
Ford treats the people and their hurricane seriously, rather than as a disaster gimmick and it’s a real whopper to behold as a battery of wind machines and unleashed water tanks flood the expensively created village and lagoon sets (the movie cost a $2,000,000 chunk for producer Samuel Goldwyn). The remake, spending eleven times as much in 1979, with new-fangled effects, couldn’t top it.
The 13th most popular film of its year, it flows by in 102 minutes, and breezed up an Oscar for Sound, as well as nominations for Mitchell in the Supporting Actor category and for Alfred Newman’s sensitive score. The theme song, “Moon Of Manakoora” became a smash hit and perennial recorded by every singer and band from Bing Crosby to The Ventures.