The Flaming Signal (July 25, 1933)

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The Flaming Signal
 

Released on July 25, 1933: An airplane pilot crashes on a South Seas Island that is home to a young missionary daughter and an evil drunkard trading post owner.

Directed by George Jeske and Charles E. Roberts

The Actors: John David Horsley (Lieutenant Jim Robbins), Marceline Day (Sally James), Noah Beery (Otto Von Krantz), Henry B. Walthall (Reverend Mr. James), Carmelita Geraghty (Molly the bartender), Mischa Auer (High Priest Manu), Francisco Alonso (Taku), Jane'e Olmes (Rari), Anya Gramina (French autograph girl)

 

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Death on the Island of Tabu

In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew non-stop from Long Island to Paris France and instantly airplanes and the brave pioneers who flew and sometimes died in airplanes became the stuff of legend. Add an exotic South Seas Island with the strange music and customs of the island natives to the airplane flight and you have a movie to excite the adventurous movie goers of 1933. John David Horseley is billed as the leading man and star of the show, but his acting skills are still at the beginner level in this one . . . his short movie career ended two years later after a total of only 8 appearances. The stars to watch for are two veteran actors . . . bad guy Noah Beery and sweet missionary daughter Marceline Day, who each make us believe that they are really the characters that they portray. As our movie opens we meet Lieutenant Jim Robbins, a hero airplane pilot about to make a historic flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Did I mention the 'cheesecake' in this movie for the guys? Although the Hays Office was starting to censor movies by 1933, this one seems to have slipped through with scenes and innuendo that seem tame today, but would have been very risqué and titillating for 1933 audiences. First as our hero airplane pilot is getting ready to leave on his historic flight, with crowds of admirers around and a live radio hookup describing the event, a young pretty French girl asks our hero for an autograph. When he discovers that she has no autograph book for him to sign he volunteers to lift up her dress and sign her legs, and even better, someone starts his plane and the propeller wind blows her dress open exposing all of her legs for the men of the audience. Very outrageous footage for 1933 . . . except for the Marceline Day footage to come a little bit later. As our flying hero is laying on the beach of the Island of Tabu after crashing into the nearby waves, his dog searches for help for the pilot and comes on Marceline Day skinny dipping in a nearby pond. After getting out of the water and drying herself off and getting dressed she follows the dog to the washed-up pilot and takes him back to her missionary father for help. By this time the men in the audience must have been wild with excitement, and the ladies were probably punching them and asking them to go back to the lobby and buy more popcorn or something just to get their minds off of the girls. Now that the guys are glued to the screen we meet Noah Beery, the evil drunkard trading post owner who loves his Hennessy and loves to cheat the South Seas natives out of their pearls. Long story short he has his way with a young native girl and when the chief threatens him and demands that he leave the island the old drunkard shoots the chief dead. Now the natives are really mad, and they perform a native ceremony to bring the chief back to life and have their revenge on the white intruders to their island . . . and they actually do bring the man back to life. This is another very unusual and gutsy thing to do in a 1933 motion picture. No, this movie will never become a treasured classic . . . the dialogue is not cutting edge, and the weak performance by the hero airplane pilot is regrettable, but the performances of Marceline Day and Noah Beery are very good, and the dangerous-for-1933 plot elements of sex and religious reincarnation make it a movie that is well worth watching while you munch on a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with warm melted butter on it.

Anya Gramina wants an autograph from John David Horsley
Anya Gramina wants an autograph from John David Horsley
Carmelita Geraghty winks at drunk Noah Beery
Carmelita Geraghty winks at drunk Noah Beery
Frdancisco Alonso as Taku, pearl diver
Frdancisco Alonso as Taku, pearl diver
Jane'e Olmes and Noah Beery
Jane'e Olmes and Noah Beery
Island girl dances over the dead body of the chief
Island girl dances over the dead body of the chief
John David Horsley in The Flaming Signal
John David Horsley in The Flaming Signal
John David Horsley meets Marceline Day in The Flaming Signal
John David Horsley meets Marceline Day in The Flaming Signal
John David Horsley prepares for his historic flight to Hawaii
John David Horsley prepares for his historic flight to Hawaii
Marceline Day and Henry B. Walthall
Marceline Day and Henry B. Walthall
Marceline Day, John David Horsley and Carmelita Garaghty
Marceline Day, John David Horsley and Carmelita Garaghty
Marceline Day in The Flaming Signal
Marceline Day in The Flaming Signal
Marceline Day in the jungle of the Island of Tabu
Marceline Day in the jungle of the Island of Tabu
Marceline day skinny dipping in the pond
Marceline day skinny dipping in the pond
Mischa Auer and John David Horsley
Mischa Auer and John David Horsley
Mischa Auer and Noah Beery
Mischa Auer and Noah Beery
Mischa Auer as Chief Manu comes back to life after the strange native ceremony
Mischa Auer as Chief Manu comes back to life after the strange native ceremony
Noah Beery and Carmelita Garaghty
Noah Beery and Carmelita Garaghty
Noah Beery as trading post owner Otto von Krantz
Noah Beery as trading post owner Otto von Krantz