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Blood & Orchids (1986) Online

Blood & Orchids (1986) Online
Original Title :
Blood u0026 Orchids
Genre :
Movie / Drama
Year :
Directror :
Jerry Thorpe
Cast :
Kris Kristofferson,Jane Alexander,Sean Young
Writer :
Norman Katkov,Norman Katkov
Type :
Time :
Rating :
Blood & Orchids (1986) Online

Hester Murdoch is found naked and nearly beaten to death by four young Hawaiian men on the beach and taken to the hospital. Some of the men didn't want to get involved, fearing they might be blamed, because she was white, but do so anyway. Almost immediately everyone suspects they are to blame. When Hester's politically influential mother Doris finds out what really happened, she fearing a scandal, forces her daughter to blame the men who rescued her, of raping and beating her. It's up to detective Curt Maddox, to find out what really happened, and their Hawaiian lawyer to do the impossible. Convince a white court of law, that they are innocent.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Kris Kristofferson Kris Kristofferson - Capt. Curtis 'Curt' Maddox
Jane Alexander Jane Alexander - Doris Ashley
Sean Young Sean Young - Leonore Bergman
José Ferrer José Ferrer - Walter Bergman
Susan Blakely Susan Blakely - Marie Farrell
David Clennon David Clennon - Phillip Murray
George Coe George Coe - Dr. Lansing
Richard Dysart Richard Dysart - Harvey Koster
Elizabeth Lindsey Elizabeth Lindsey - Sarah
Haunani Minn Haunani Minn - Princess Luahine
William Russ William Russ - Lloyd Murdoch
James Saito James Saito - Halehone
Matt Salinger Matt Salinger - Bryce Parker
Madeleine Stowe Madeleine Stowe - Hester Ashley Murdoch (as Madeline Stowe)
Arthur Rosenberg Arthur Rosenberg - Sergeant Jack Keller

Based on the September 1931 rape and beating in Honolulu of Thalia Massie, wife of a Navy submarine officer stationed at Pearl Harbor. She accused several young Hawaiian men of the crime, which inflamed existing racial tensions in the islands between whites and native Hawaiians.

Hawaii officially became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959. It is one of the smallest states, and it is the only state made up entirely of islands.

Princess Luahine (Abigail Wahi ika ahu ula Campbell Kawananakoa) (January 1, 1882 - April 12, 1945) Her father was James Campbell, one of the wealthiest industrialists in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Her mother was part-Hawaiian Abigail Kuaihelani Maipinepine Bright. She graduated from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont, California, in 1900, when she converted from Anglicanism, religion of her parents, to Roman Catholicism. On January 6, 1902, by virtue of her marriage to Prince David La amea Kahalepouli Kawananakoa Pi ikoi, she became known as Princess.

User reviews



"Blood and Orchids" (TV mini-series, 1986) is evocative of its time (1930s territorial Hawaii) and place (its rich plantations). I saw this fine mini-series when it appeared originally, drawn to it by Jane Alexander and by its theme of racial conflict and excellent pre-reviews.

Jane Alexander plays a cold, wealthy plantation-owner who exerts her belief that the white "newcomers" to Hawaii have a divine right to exploit native Hawaiians who spend 12 to 16 hours a day in her fields under harsh conditions. She has a daughter (Madeleine Stowe) married to a Navy Lieutenant, but it is her husband's best friend whom she loves.

This man betrays both her and the husband, assaulting her. In order to protect her daughter and maintain her status as a wealthy socialite, Jane Alexander forces her daughter to accuse native hawaiian boys of battery and rape. This unleashes a series of dramatic (in the best sense) events that are surprising and shocking and seen largely through the eyes of a tough, aloof detective, played by Kris Kristofferson.

Unlike many "epics," the viewer will have no problem keeping the 15-20 major characters straight. From an exiled Hawaiian princess and a native lawyer returning from the US mainland to race-hating sailors and plantation supervisors, the characters are drawn clearly and superbly acted.

I saw "Blood and Orchids" recently after 15 years of thinking about it off and on. It holds its place as one of the great television mini-series.


It's 1937 in caste-divided Hawaii and Madeleine Stowe is raped and beaten horribly in the woods by her husband's best friend, another Navy officer. Four Hawaiian kids find her nude on the road, drive her to a hospital, and are frightened off by personnel who assume they're the ones who did it. They're arrested by a Captain in the HPD, Kris Kristofferson, and brought to trial for rape, deadly assault, battery, mayhem, and speaking with an accent. Stowe's husband, a Lieutenant (jg) on a destroyer murders one of the kids in court. The others are beaten by a handful of rednecks on the destroyer's crew. Stowe finally breaks down on the stand and admits the kids didn't do it, much to the dismay of her Mom (Jane Alexander) who has been coaching her. Better to have four kanakas get it in the neck than one haole officer. Now, however, Stowe's husband is imprisoned. The guy knows nothing about his wife's having an affair and assumes the kids were guilty. Bring in the expensive Jewish lawyer from the states, the seventyish Jose Ferrer with the sexy wife one third his age.

It's a fascinating lesson in colonial social structure. It's a good deal like the South was at the time. It echoes the incident involving the Scottsboro Boys.

It would have been nice if the story had stuck closer to the central plot but it wanders all over the place, bumping crazily into subplots as it meanders along like a drunken sailor on Hotel Street. I expect we could have done without the affair between Kristofferson and Bergman's wife, Sean Young, which doesn't tell us anything we need to know about either character except that they are heterosexual.

The script doesn't help too much. Too many pious speeches. Kristofferson to Alexander: "Just because your grandfather came here on a ship and stole this land from the people you think you OWN it." Alexander is a fine actress and has already shown us through her icy disdain for ordinary people that she thinks she owns it. It's like having someone tell you, "I was so thirsty the next morning that I put away a lot of H2O -- that's water." We know, we know. Sometimes the script get so hallucinogenic that it's almost trippy. Sean Young is stretched out in the bed, sweaty and exhausted, and tells her lover: "You make me feel new again. It's as if you'd just minted me."

Man, though, is Sean Young a knockout. Whew. So is Madeleine Stowe with her skewed lips and coal-black irises. Kristofferson can't help being his old laid-back self and he's a little hard to believe when he explodes with rage. Authority figures from Texas don't blow their tops when they threaten you. They smile as they tell you how they're going to reach down inside your throat, grab your pyloric sphincter and pull your guts out through your mouth. Jose Ferrer gives a sympathetic performance as the sick but spunky and intelligent defense attorney who isn't about to give up his sexpot wife, even as he's passing out from hypoglycemia or something.

The four Hawaiian kids are okay. Their defense attorney is barely adequate. He's supposed to appear bumbling at first and he succeeds. But when he bears down on a witness he still seems tentative, as if unwilling to be rude. Two performances are standouts. Haunani Minn brings real spirit to the role of the Princess, and she's given some hefty insights. Some might call it overacting but what a breath of fresh air. Her performance -- the things she does to the English language, the melodies she uses to inform it -- reminds me of Bela Lugosi's Dracula. It's compelling ham. The other outstanding performance is given by the actor who plays the Chief of Police. No, not Charlie Chan. This is a white guy, Kristofferson's boss. He only has one or two scenes and they are clichés. Every responsible cop who is searching for justice has to have a boss telling him to lay off. This boss is unforgettable. I have seen more kinetic energy flow through the animatronic figures in Disneyland's Hall of Presidents. He stands there, chewing Kristofferson out, and he does not blink, his face is without expression, he does not wave his arms or move his hands or his body and he does not breath. Nothing moves but his mouth. When paint wants to dry it must watch HIM. He alone is almost worth sitting through the movie for. William Russ is Stowe's husband. I have seen far more convincing performances in a community college in St. George, Utah.

Flowers play an important part in this movie and they should. You can smell their scent at sea while the islands themselves are still over the horizon. The movie has blood as well as orchids. It also has a lot of sexual intrigue. (We'll let the derivation of the word "orchids" go, for now.) See this one. It's long and has some irrelevant patches but the case itself is interesting enough to keep you watching.


After watching this movie I wanted more info. Wiki to the rescue. This movie couldn't have been FURTHER from the truth. Read it for yourselves. Almost everything is revised or "tailored" for convenience and marketability. Many things irked me but pay particular attention to the fact that Thalia committed suicide (as in the movie) but she did it in 1963 on the mainland. Not in her mother's shower after the trial! AND WHO THE HELL IS POLICE CAPTAIN CURTIS MADDOX? And there was a shooting, but NOT IN THE COURTROOM. Purely sensational. Mr. Katkov should be ashamed, what a prostitute he was/is.

Below is one paragraph, see the whole short article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massie_Trial In February 1986, CBS-TV aired a four-hour miniseries produced by Lorimar Productions titled Blood & Orchids, written for television by Norman Katkov, who based his teleplay on his own novel of the same title. Though Katkov said that he based his novel on the Massie Affair, his novel and teleplay bear only a superficial resemblance to actual fact. Katkov changed all the names of the principal characters and added other characters for whom no historical warrant can be found (most notably, Police Captain Curtis Maddox, supposedly the one conscientious law-enforcement officer who ever investigated the affair). Katkov's story also departs significantly from actual historical events in many ways, not least of which is making the murder of Kahahawai look like a crime of passion rather than the cold-blooded murder that it actually was--and also laying all the blame on Lieutenant Massie and not on Grace Fortescue, the true instigator of Kahahawai's murder.

I got to admit, I liked the movie a lot more before finding out the real story. It does have a nice look, if not a little heavy-handed in the wardrobe department. KK goes through the whole movie (remember, this is Hawaii) in a freshly pressed 3-piece suit, vest fully buttoned and jacket permanently affixed to his body. And the stupid fedora, give me a break. They want you to believe no one wore shirt sleeves I guess.

5 out of 10 for the moderate entertainment value. Still worth a watch.

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I saw this movie just after having lived in Hawaii and was there during the filming. I got to see some of the original locations and heard the story. It's fairly inflaming, knowing how the locals were so racially abused at times especially during WWII era by some military personnel and this movie illustrates that sad truth, as well as the fact that sometimes sexual bias and prejudices are used to advantage in order to avoid the truth and allow the innocent to suffer. The acting is really great too, note the fine list of actors contributing their efforts.


As someone who has both worked and played in Hawaii, I consider this to be one of just a few films that tell a good story and at the same time let the viewer know about the history and social levels of Hawaii. All persons who travel to Hawaii for vacation fun should see this reality-based film.


Blood&Orchids is loosely, very loosely based on the notorious Thalia Massie rape case and the subsequent trials that came out of it. The film takes a hard look at the racism that prevailed among the white colonizers.

Madeline Stowe lying naked on a side road and all beaten up is found by four Hawaiian youths and brought to a hospital. In a case of no good deed goes unpunished the four kids are arrested and held for rape.

Stowe is the daughter of the powerful sugar plantation owner Jane Alexander who with her partner Richard Dysart are a pair of big movers and shakers in Hawaii. They try and manipulate the justice system in their favor. Stowe is also married to navy captain William Russ and she was out stepping on him, having an affair with another officer.

The Hawaiian kids prove to be a convenient scapegoat for many people, but when they are not convicted Russ in open court has snuck a pistol in and shoots one of the four kids.

Sparing no expense Alexander and Dysart bring over to Hawaii noted criminal defense attorney Jose Ferrer to defend Russ. Ferrer's character is based on Clarence Darrow who in his last big case got a big fee for defending Thalia Massie's husband who did the same thing in real life.

Kris Kristofferson stars as a Hawaiian homicide cop who can't stand the stink of corruption and has been looking to unravel the frame up of the Hawaiian kids. He also falls for Ferrer's much younger wife Sean Young.

When I wrote my review of the film Hawaii I said then and say again Hawaii was sadly caught between the westward expanding America and the eastward expanding Japan. The white planters are a privileged class that enjoy their privileges to the max and we sure see that here.

This is a fine made for TV films that should have gotten a theatrical release.