Review: Enchanted Island (1958)

With bright blue eyes and a soprano singing voice, Jane Powell won over audiences with her first screen appearance in 1944.

She became one of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s top musical starts from 1946 to 1955 — every one of her movies was filmed in Technicolor. Her co-stars were other bright new stars from “Holiday in Mexico” (1946) with Roddy McDowall to “Two Weeks with Love” (1950) with Riccardo Montalban.

But as the studio system declined and musicals failed to reign supreme, Powell’s career declined too. The last time movie audiences saw her in a starring role in a feature film was in 1958 in “Enchanted Island.”

But rather than a singing sweetheart, Powell dons a long black wig, a sarong and a tan as she plays a Typee woman who lives on a South Sea Island.

Set in 1842, a ship stops at a South Sea Island. Sailor Abner Bedford (Dana Andrews) is belligerent with the captain (Ted de Corsia), because the sailors are refused shore leave. The captain eventually relents, but Abner argues with the captain when he disapproves of drinking and carrying on with the native women; warning Abner and the crew that anything beyond the shore is dangerous.

After a fight, Abner jumps ship and sailor Tom (Don Dubbins) tags along. Abner’s intentions all along were to escape the ship, because he wants to be a free man.

Abner and Tom travel deeper into the island jungle and come across a tribe, the Typees, who are rumored to be cannibals. Abner falls in love with one of the Typees, Fayway (Jane Powell). The two are going to marry and Tom disapproves, believing that Abner needs to return to Western Civilization.

Tom runs away to return to civilization, and Abner and Fayaway live happily together. However, their happiness fades when Abner believes the Typees are watching him — making him feel less free — and he also has suspicions about what happened to Tom.

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