A year ago I ran a brief plea for the DVD release of Carol Reed‘s Outcast of the Islands, which coincidentally aired a month later on Turner Classic Movies. Yesterday, still fired up by the response to Thursday’s “The Disappeared” piece, I came upon this Pauline Kael capsule review.
“A marvellous film (drawn from Joseph Conrad‘s work) that relatively few people have seen,” she began. “It’s probably the only movie that has ever attempted to deal in a complex way with the subject of the civilized man’s ambivalence about the savage. It also contains some of the most remarkable sequences ever filmed by the English director Carol Reed; it’s an uneven movie, but with splendid moments throughout.
“Trevor Howard is superb as Willems, who makes himself an outcast first through contemptible irresponsibility and through betrayal of those who trust him, and finally and hopelessly when, against his will, he is attracted to the silent, primitive girl, the terrifying Aissa (played by Kerima). Willems is wrong in almost everything he does, but he represents a gesture toward life; his enemy, Almayer (Robert Morley), is so horribly, pathetically stuffy that his family unit (with Wendy Hiller as his wife and Annabel Morley as his child) is absurdly, painfully funny.
“With Ralph Richardson, whose role is possibly ill-conceived, and George Coulouris, Wilfrid Hyde-White, and Frederick Valk. The screenplay is by William Fairchild; cinematography by John Wilcox.”
I wrote last year that Outcast of the Islands is “a forgotten film that nobody cares about at all. Except, I’m thinking, possibly those obsessives at the Criterion Collection. These fellows are just peculiar enough to put out a remastered version of this British-produced film on DVD.”