Beautiful Judith Denning (Carole Lombard) is shunned by the proper white community in Malaya on account of marital scandal: her recently deceased husband, it is said, committed suicide, believing that she was carrying on with a handsome Australian. Now impoverished, she has been forced to take employment singing in a club to mixed race audiences, which only makes local society condemn her all the more. Threatened with deportation on account of her "scandalous" behavior, Judith marries vulgar, nouveau riche Horace Prin (Charles Laughton), the "King of the River," the greatest rubber planter in Malaya, and travels upriver with him to the grand converted boat-house where he holds court.
But the natives are restless and even the scenery-devouring Prin may bite off more than he can chew this time!
Yet, not surprisingly, it most definitely is Charles Laughton who dominates the film, and he is superb in this colorful "fiend" role. His theatrical Horace Prin is of a piece with his more famous Thirties villains like Dr. Moreau, Nero, Henry VIII, Javert and Captain Bligh. I found the grim final scene of the film, which Laughton plays to the hilt, riveting. Some will call it the purest ham, but I enjoyed every morsel of it. Incidentally, I was a bit reminded of Laurence Kirk's suspense novel The Farm at Paranao (1935), very favorably reviewed by me here.
Stay tuned for a review of another interesting, if less successful in my view, Carole Lombard thriller from 1933, Supernatural.
|the deadly triangle (Taylor, Lombard, Laughton)|