Sunday, July 21, 2013

Movie of the Week: Island in the Sun (Review)

After a somewhat busy week, I was finally able to kick back and watch Island in the Sun and was able to watch the film through a "reviewer's" lens.


"Island in the Sun is a 1957 controversial drama film. The film centers around an ensemble cast including James Mason, Harry Belafonte, Joan Fontaine, Joan Collins, Dorothy Dandridge, Michael Rennie, Stephen Boyd, Patricia Owens, John Justin, Diana Wynyard, and Basil Sydney. It is about race relations and interracial romance set in the fictitious island of Santa Marta. Barbados and Grenada were selected as the sites for the movie based on the novel by Alec Waugh." [Wikipedia]

First off, Island in the Sun is a BEAUTIFUL film to look at--between the filming location, Cinemascope, and "Color by DeLuxe", it's just a gorgeous, colorful film--almost looks as though it were made with brand new colored pencils, if that makes sense.

Great angle!

The movie had so many interesting and interestingly intertwined plot points as well. Interracial romance, potential interracial romance, the ghost of an interracial romance lingering over some of the film's lead characters; self-identity issues, murder, classism, racism. This movie has it all and it's entertaining to watch, but unfortunately, one must remember that Island in the Sun was released in 1957. Joan Fontaine got hate letters for "working with a n----r"--the movie was certainly controversial, but the racist heathens really didn't have much to worry about......

Mavis Norman (Joan Fontaine) and David Boyeur (Harry Belafonte)

Island in the Sun was ahead of its time--not because the story was something new and daring (which it was), but more so because the time in which it was filmed and released prevented it from being as classic as it was controversial. So much passion was left out in this movie: (as much as a film in the 50's could give, that is) and the sexual tension between Jocelyn Fluery (played by Joan Collins) and Euan Templeton (played by Stephen Boyd) was often destroyed by random soap opera music. 

Jocelyn Fleury (Joan Collins) with Euan Templeton (played by Stephen Boyd)

This infamous scene basically sums up the entire movie. The director (Robert Rossen) was scared to "push the envelope" and it was very evident--too evident. 

Denis Archer (John Justin) talking with Margot Seaton (Dorothy Dandridge)

Maxwell Fleury (James Mason) talking to his wife, Sylvia (Patricia Owens)

This film doesn't stand up to the controversy and fear that surrounded it during its release, but nonetheless, it's still an entertaining film, a beauty to look at; and every actor does an amazing job. Of course, I thought Dorothy Dandridge was amazing (even though she's in only like a quarter of the movie), but without a doubt, James Mason dominated this film as Maxwell Fleury, a worm-filled apple of a man. 

If you ever get the opportunity, go on and purchase Island in the Sun on DVD from Amazon, Ebay, or maybe even Wal-Mart. 

(S/O to bellakj!)


The movie poster was obtained from Island in the Sun's Wikipedia page. Other photos are screenshots from the film. If the rightful owner(s) of any of these images wishes to have them remove, please contact me and I will do so immediately.--Adrienne


  1. Is the lady in the first photo, which you call "Great Angle" Dorothy Dandridge?

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