Jungle Heat is the 1957 movie. Roger and Ann McRae come to Kauai to solve a labor problem. It seems that a Filipino named Felix Agung is leading a group of workers for better working conditions. Roger is not sympathetic, in fact, he despises the locals as “native savages.” Major Richard Grey thinks that Japanese Fifth columnists are to blame for the violence that is happening. What’s worse is that Ann starts to fall in love with a man named Dr. Ransom, who isn’t racist. Can the group get to the bottom of the mystery?
You know the movie’s in trouble when its set in Hawaii, but the title is Jungle Heat. Although there is an island of Kauai, there are no jungles in the state of Hawaii. The screenwriter is right in that there were tensions between the workers and management on the plantations, though. While the movie’s production values are good. The story is half-hearted. It’s a shame, since an espionage story where spies use a labor strike to their advantage is a great idea. Roger’s character wouldn’t have been a main character in a modern film, since he’s so openly racist, that the viewer may cheer when he heroically sacrifices himself. Despite that, there is some positive racial stereotyping in which they say that Hawaii locals are primitive but harmless. Another one is that all Asian have an inscrutable “oriental” mind, although to the films credit, they don’t believe all Japanese are willing to be spies. The ending is emotionally blunt, but still effective, as it turns out Ann and Dr. Ransom’s date just happens to fall on December 7th 1941. However, the viewer can safely assume that they won’t be killed, as they are far away from Pearl Harbor. Honolulu film fans sensitive to racial stereotyping need to rent another movie.
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