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Flame of the Islands (1956) Online

Flame of the Islands (1956) Online
Original Title :
Flame of the Islands
Genre :
Movie / Crime / Drama / / Thriller
Year :
Directror :
Edward Ludwig
Cast :
Yvonne De Carlo,Howard Duff,Zachary Scott
Writer :
Bruce Manning,Adele Comandini
Type :
Time :
1h 30min
Rating :
Flame of the Islands (1956) Online

The story of a café singer who buys a gambling casino, and the men who fall in love with her.
Cast overview:
Yvonne De Carlo Yvonne De Carlo - Rosalind Dee
Howard Duff Howard Duff - Doug Duryea
Zachary Scott Zachary Scott - Wade Evans
Kurt Kasznar Kurt Kasznar - Cyril Mace
Barbara O'Neil Barbara O'Neil - Charmaine Duryea
James Arness James Arness - Kelly Rand
Frieda Inescort Frieda Inescort - Evelyn Hammond
Lester Matthews Lester Matthews - Gus
Donald Curtis Donald Curtis - Johnny
Nick Stewart Nick Stewart - Nick

User reviews



Fairly entertaining melodrama of girl who is paid off by rich widow for supposed intrigue with her,deceased rich husband. Yvonne buys into gambling casino in the Caribbean. Naturally,she attracts the attention of the local men, including her old boyfriend,a spoiled society guy who dumped her years before. Republic was struggling to stay afloat in the fifties,still pushing out forties-style movies on a changing movie audience. Yvonne is very watchable as always and makes the most of her role. She has a good supporting cast,including a young James Arness (tv's Matt Dillon.)The photography and location work are very nice. Not a classic but pleasant time filler.


Flame of the Islands is usually described as a story of a woman and the men in her life, but the heart of the story is about three women: Rosalind Dee, (Yvonne de Carlo); the woman of whose husband she was supposedly mistress, (Frieda Inescort), and the mother of the boy she had loved as a teenager, (Barbara O'Neil). Rosalind is a good woman corrupted by a desire for revenge over the woman who had destroyed her chance for happiness by separating her from the boy she loved as a teenager, but her revenge, small as it is, redounds on people she has every wish not to hurt. That part of the story is fascinating, and one could wish that the story were used in a more substantial production. Unfortunately, the movie ends with a bit of cheap melodrama not related to that storyline. James Arness plays a lay preacher, and one can't help loving a movie with the line: "OK, boys, stand up. Sing "Jesus Loves Me."

The film has a fine score by Nelson Riddle, incorporating two songs sung by Yvonne de Carlo which are wry commentary on the plot.


Having a Caribean cocktail with the stunning Yvonne De Carlo is always a welcome treat. Watering down a highball glass full of shiftless men (with one exception) that she encounters along the way is a daunting prospect. De Carlo's "Bahama Mama" is the swivel stick that stirs the island economy. She inherits a hefty sum of cash and quickly enlists Zachary Scott to accompany her to the Bahamas where she purchases a resort/casino. All of the female characters seem to be harboring dark secrets. The male characters, however, come off as clueless (Duff doesn't even recall having a past relationship with Miss De Carlo.) or righteously noble (Arness has the hots for De Carlo but would rather see her return to the mainland, before losing her dignity and money chest.) Arness' character is steadfast against the vice of gambling. He's always preaching against the evils of the roulette wheel. Sleazy Kurt Kazner, yet another investor, has eyes for the female lead, too, but also has ties to some unsavory gangsters. Duff's memory returns and he begins to woo the sultry Yvonne, but Duff's mother is an impediment. She dislikes show people (Decarlo is a singer) or anyone else she feels is beneath her son's station in life. Tough courting rules. Along the way, Decarlo sings and dances up a tropical storm. Her three musical numbers slyly comment on the action taking place on the screen. One reggae-riff, while she's in a drunken stupor, is a highlight. Multiple scandals pop up along the way; secrets are revealed. Duff's meddlesome mother is in the center of things. It all leaves you guessing and a bit perplexed. Set during the Christmas season, the exotic scenery and super bright day-glow colors leap (lords a leaping) from the screen. This film was written by the same woman who penned the Christmas classics Beyond Tomorrow and Christmas in Connecticut. Flame of the Islands completes the yuletide trilogy in fine fashion.


I'm a big fan of '40's and '50's B movies. I go in not expecting much and have been invariably surprised.

After viewing, I thought if this film were at Warner Brothers in 1946...it'd been a Bette Davis vehicle for sure. Bette would be the seasoned woman with a trunk full of dark secrets in her past, paying for mistakes she'd made and for some she's only suspected of. The movie would have a searing high powered Max Steiner score under toning her showdowns with clinging mothers, intruding god mothers, a lustful creep,a wimpy love interest and the nearby he man...all set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Bahamas.

But it's 1956, the studio is Republic and the star is Yvonne De Carlo. And it works in a way. Another reviewer mentioned time and for lack of an added 5 or 6 minutes, the film suffers so. The ending particularly.


This is a great one to summarize. Yvonne (as Rosiland) accepts a princessly sum from a recent widow (Freida Inescort) as Mrs. Hammond and decides to venture forth with friend Wade (Zachary Scott). Wade's friend Mace (Kurt Kasznar) talks the two into checking out a Casino/Resort he's set up but can't open because he needs operating capital. Roz and Wade check it out, and throw in with Mace. Since Roz can sing and dance a little, she'll be the stage show attraction. Mace wants it to be a private club, for rich high rollers.

Mace (the Creep) introduces them to Kelly (James Arness) a boat captain/beachcomber/preacher (the He-Man). Roz charters a boat, privately...and catches not only a marlin but a pass from Kelly.

Then at the dock she meets bad penny #1 Howard Duff (Doug Duryea) an old teen aged flame. I won't even go into what's in their past...just watch the movie. Doug (the Wimp)and Roz connect and plan to marry, naturally against controlling mama Barbara O'Neil's objections. But the aqua clear waters get muddier as bad penny #2 shows up...Mrs. Hammond, best friend to mama Duryea and Doug's godmother!

Yvonne must survive a wimpy fiancé, bribing and slanderous old biddies, though the so called invalid...she uses a cane; new widow Mrs. Hammond looks pretty attractive (but no men, even the wrong type seem interested in her), a creep (Mace) who wants her, whether she wants him or not and Mace's unsavory silent business partners...who she's unaware till near the end.

Then the story becomes an adventure tale for 6 or 7 minutes, as she and He Man Arness escape the baddies and find true love as The End title card comes up. This sequence seems rushed, it would have been better if it'd been expanded on some.

Oh,yeah...Yvonne is drop dead gorgeous, be it wiggling in a tight white gown doing her floor routine, or fighting a marlin for over an hour. Notice the white short outfit she battled the marlin in and the fashionable hoop skirt cover up on the dock. No wonder Captain Kelly went all gaga!


Ah, FotI, filmed in flaming, glowing, blinding technicholor with red doors and yellow walls and blue seas. Yvonne DeCarlo of later Lily Munster fame is a sizzling hot flame in the Bahama's where she's a partner in a posh casino catering to the upper crust.

Suddenly, one day, after landing a twelve foot swordfish she dramatically stumbles upon Howard Duff whom she used to hanky panky with when she was a mere fifteen year old and he was 35. She recognizes Duff immediately, he sort of remembers her but it's now 14 years later and has turned from teen to voluptuous flame. After all the heartache he put her thru back then, she still loves the lug and wants him to love her. So, she sins and gyrates her to a hot rumba island song, he falls for her again and everything seems peachy until Mother Duff appears (casting here is a tad incredible since Duffs mom is actually only 9 years older in than Duff so she seem more like his slightly older girl friend and not his mom, oh well) and tells Yvonne to back off 'cause she wants sonny boy to herself. Yvonne is not terribly threatened and sings and gyrates another flaming island song and then Duff's God Mother appears and means to put an end to this romance. She has all the dirt and intends to use it. First of all Duff impregnated Yvonne but she didn't tell him before he split back when she was 15. The baby was born dead. Then GodMaMa tells MaMa Duff that Yvonne was having an affair with her(Godmama's) husband around the same time as the Duff affair, so she is gonna ruin Yvonne.

Well, MaMa Duff confesses to Yvonne it was she who was having the affair with Godmama's hubby obviously not Yvonne. MaMa Duff makes Yvonne she won't not tell sonny boy Duff and then mama kicks the bucket on her sofa. Duff asks her who it was, Yvonne doesn't tell and the engagement is off. Yvonne gets soused on brandy, sings a sloshed song on the easy chair and hooks up with James Arness of Gunsmoke who has always had the hots for her, so they kiss and then get kidnapped and the coast guard blows up a ship but they escape and presumably live happily ever after. Other characters are thrown in who also have the hots for Yvonne, so actually she was quite the island flame. To watch Yvonne gyrate, bump, grind, shimmy, shake and wiggle to her songs is worth the price of admission alone. The setting in the blue Bahamas is just the perfect venue for this color extravaganza and it's a real juicy soap opera as well. I especially liked the mostly short, abrupt scenes and economical direction, lush sets yet sometimes downright production cost cuts. It's an amusing waste of time.


Contrary to the two comments that were previously submitted to this forum, "Flame of the Islands" left a lot to be desired, as a feature film. The story of this woman that wants to get her revenge for what was been done to her years ago doesn't make much sense, as presented in the movie. The rich and powerful Mrs. Hammond, who knew about her husband's escapades, and after he suddenly dies, gives the conniving Rosalind Dee a hundred thousand dollars to get her out of the way. Who, in her right mind, would have parted with that large amount of cash without checking the facts? It shows she was an idiot without much intelligence!

Then there is the problem of Rosalind arriving in Nassau and becoming the main attraction of the new club. She makes a great impression with the former alcoholic expatriate, the Rev. Kelly Rand, who on the first fishing trip hits upon Rosalind, and in spite his holiness he is just as smitten as the rest of the men who are attracted by the beautiful Rosalind, who now we learn, is really Linda D'Arcy. Talking about stretching credibility, Rosalind/Linda meets the man she was in love years before, young Doug Duryea, who doesn't even recognize her at all!

Well, if one likes these soap-opera-like twists, then "Flame of the Islands" will be the thing to watch. It's fun, it's campy, and it features a larger than life performance by Yvonne DeCarlo, a screen beauty with a figure to match her talents. What is surprising is that the story by Adele Comandini, who wrote the far superior "Christmas in Connecticut", had no luck by what Bruce Manning, the adapter, did to her story, which probably made more sense in paper than in the finished product.


One is the Bahama's. The other features a giant apple, and when the girl from the big apple goes to the big pineapple, it's not long before she becomes a Bahama mama. That lady in the sarong here is the flashy Yvonne de Carlo, the future Lily Munster, the future one shot Broadway diva who proved that indeed she was still here. She's a successful career woman who by accident inherits a bequest from a wealthy man, given to her through the man's widow (Frieda Inescort) who believes that there was more going on but didn't seem to mind. Newly rich, de Carlo goes to the Bahama's with her friend Zachary Scott to check out a nightclub bought by Kurt Kasznar and ends up finding her own green acres, not at all reluctant to depart Park Avenue.

Looking at first like a thin version of Alan Hale's skipper, James Arness jumps into the story, stirring up de Carlo and making Scott jealous. Later, an old childhood sweetheart (Howard Duff) shows up, stirring her even more to melodramatic delight. While there aren't any movie stars, there are swimming pools (right off the ocean to obviously avoid sharks), and it becomes a colorful delight, getting campier by the minute. Something shady is soon revealed, and it ain't two ladies under a banana tree. Along with the previous year's "Underwater", this is a delight for the eyes, and when de Carlo breaks into "Bahama Mama", be sure not to sip your tropical cocktail. Scarlet O'Hara's mother, Barbara O'Neill, so deliciously nasty to Bette Davis in "All This and Heaven Too", adds another imperious role to her roster as Duff's very young looking mother.

Made during the last days of Republic studios, it was one of the rare times that studio head Herbert J. Yates cast another star over his wife, Vera "Hruba" Ralston, and thank God for that! Crawford and Stanwyck also ventured there around this time, like Maureen O'Hara had done for "The Quiet Man". There's a Christmas sequence with little kiddies singing "Yes, Jesus Loves Me", and while it could be very cloying, it's actually very sweet. For much of the film, however, it's all about de Carlo and her many admirers, some big fishing scenes (she catches a marlin!), and some travelog style shots of the main areas. But the main story really could be set anywhere. Ultimately, that doesn't really matter, because it is fabulously entertaining from start to finish, colorfully filled with everything that made movie going an absolute joy in the golden age.


I usually edit and re-write the notes I jot down at a movie's press preview, but for some reason I kept my original material. Here it is:

Despite a credit title brag that this film was actually photographed in the Bahamas, it is obvious that a 2nd unit contributed the few bits of local color transferred to the screen (often via clumsy back projection). Except for a few brief shots of Miss De Carlo herself, and even less of Mr Duff, the entire roster of Republic's players remain fixed in the 4024 Radford Avenue, North Hollywood studio. And oh, yes, I forgot to add Miss De Carlo's double to the location roster. She's the one who takes the plunge. A really lovely girl. It's a pity she didn't carry the role itself.

Okay, I'm prejudiced, I'll admit it. Like a few other Hollywood stars I could mention, De Carlo had little time for the press. She was obviously bored. She'd answer a few questions in monosyllables and then give us the brush-off with the excuse that the director needed her on the set. And when we wandered on to the set about 40 minutes later, there she'd be, talking most animatedly with one or two of her male co-stars – and the director nowhere in sight! Yes, that could happen for real occasionally, but with Miss De C., it happened all the time. Yes, I'm prejudiced. You have been warned!

It's obvious – studio publicity to the contrary – that De Carlo's "singing" has been dubbed (except for a drunken chorus). Her miming is, to say the least, inexpert; while her "dancing", to be charitable, is embarrassingly gauche.

In fact, Flame of the Islands is a sorry film all around. The screenplay is impossibly contrived, with characters so inconsistently motivated from scene to scene as to drive a halfway decent actor to despair. Of course, few of the players in this line-up probably noticed, though Zachary Scott does seem to wear an understandable air of bewilderment. We wonder what his character is supposed to be too. It seems he is just along for the ride. No such problems afflict De Carlo and Duff. In fact, Duff seems even more wooden than usual. Only Kurt Kasznar as the amorous villain has any chance to shine.

The screenplay seems to have gone through a wringer in the censor's office and has thus been robbed of what little sense it may have had originally. Laughably inept cost-cutting robs even the final (and only) spurt of action of its belated bit of drama.

With all these negatives against the movie, Ludwig's direction is understandably banal and lethargic. Admittedly, the film's editor has attempted to speed things up a bit by eliminating some tedious continuity footage. Some further jump cuts have probably been contributed by the studio's desire to chop the film down to exactly 90 minutes. Mr. Yates was not a fan of long movies – unless, of course, they starred Mrs. Yates.

The photography is likewise indifferent. (The first reel in the TV version seems to be printed through gauze).

Yes, all told, this is a very sorry film, which even rabid Republic fans (like me) will count a dead loss.


I'm sure the cast and crew of Flame Of The Islands was grateful to Herbert J. Yates and Republic Pictures for a nice vacation in the Bahamas which were still a British colony when the film was released. The scenic cinematography of the Bahamas is the best thing that this film has going for it next to Yvonne DeCarlo's beauty. A pair of natural wonders.

As to the film itself it's a muddled cross between an action adventure film and a Back Street soap opera which I had trouble figuring out. Career woman DeCarlo is summoned by the widow Frieda Inescourt and given $100,000.00 in hush money as DeCarlo was Inescourt's late husband's Katharine Hepburn to his Spencer Tracy.

She takes the money and goes to the Bahamas to invest it in a new gambling club with Kurt Kaszner and on general principles one does not go into business with Kaszner and the characters he plays. Along for the ride is Zachary Scott. While in the Bahamas she meets up with both preacher/beachcomber James Arness and society lion Howard Duff and his Barbara O'Neil. Back when she was a teen Duff did her wrong.

One thing that you can rely on is that every male member in this cast was panting hot and heavy for Yvonne. Even the gangsters that Kaszner brought in as silent partners were giving her the once over. Who in this soap opera will Yvonne wind up with. That's for you to find out by watching.

A most subpar soap opera helped by Yvonne DeCarlo and those low cuts items she wears.