A Polynesian sailor is separated from his wife when he's unjustly imprisoned for defending himself against a colonial bully. Members of the community petition the governor for clemency but all pretense of law and order are soon shattered by an incoming tropical storm.
This is all about the last ten minutes - and those largely forgive the preceding 100 which produce a rather dull, south seas melodrama as Jon Hall "Terangi" is imprisoned for defending himself against a bully. The intransigent French Colonial Governor "DeLaage" (a suitably maniacal Daniel Massey) makes it his mission to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and that "Terangi" is suitably punished - despite the caring interventions of a loquacious, frequently over-imbibed, Thomas Mitchell ("Dr. Kersaint); quite a poignant performance from local cleric C. Aubrey Smith ("Fr. Paul") and his own wife Mary Astor ("Mme. DeLaage"). Indeed, under the brutal administration of the hard labour camp by John Carradine the misery of our young captive is only compounded, especially as his unsuccessful escape attempts - to get back to wife "Marama" (Dorothy Lamour) - result in increases to his sentence. The plot is riddled with holes and inconsistencies, but John Ford builds tension quite well and the score from Alfred Newman and the special - really quite impressive - effects at the end are both great too (frankly, far too good for the rest of it). It'd be hard to recommend the entire film, but on balance I think the end justified the trip.