Rainbow Island – screen play by Walter DeLeon and Arthur Phillips; based on a story by Seena Owen; music and lyrics by Burton Lane and Ted Koeller; directed by Ralph Murphy for Paramount. At Loew’s Criterion.
Lona . . . . . Dorothy Lamour
Toby Smith . . . . . Eddie Bracken
Pete Jenkins . . . . . Gil Lamb
Ken Masters . . . . . Barry Sullivan
Doctor Curtis . . . . . Forrest Orr
Queen Okalana . . . . . Anne Revere
High Priest Kahuna . . . . . Reed Hadley
Alcoa . . . . . Marc Lawrence
Executioner . . . . . Adia Kuznetzoff
Miki . . . . . Olgan San Juan
Moana . . . . . Elena Verdugo
The same mad formula for comedy which heretofore has been used to great advantage by Paramount in its memorable “Road to —” films is given a fair going-over in the latest of that studio’s musical shows, a gaudy item called “Rainbow Island,” which came to Loew’s Criterion yesterday. Only this time a new pair of comics, Eddie Bracken and Gil Lamb, are filling the zany roles formerly apportioned to Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and Barry Sullivan is an adjunct who makes romance with the invariable Dorothy Lamour. But the same sort of nonsense is in order, the same sort of florid burlesque. If only the script were better and Bracken and Lamb were Crosby and Hope—.
Well, everything can’t be expected. And there is certainly enough moonshine here to dazzle the risibilities of the average seeker of escape. For Bracken and Lamb are funny fellows (who only pale by comparison) and Miss Lamour — back to saronging — gets the most out of what she has. Likewise, for visual entertainment, there are other characters, also in sarongs, who do a great deal with their resources to adorn the back—and foreground.
The present excursion finds three sailors—the Messrs. Bracken, Lamb and Sullivan—cast away on a South Pacific island found only on the charts at Paramount. Here the suspicious natives discover that the Bracken phiz bears a truly amazing resemblance to the high man on their totem pole, and they enthrone Mr. Bracken, temporarily, as the materialization of their god. Unfortunately, this deity is supposed to possess none of the appetites of man, and the lives of Mr. Bracken and his fellows depend upon his proof of godly abstinence. What with the islands’ abundance of food and other tempting things—well, you can see the dilemma and also the line of the film.
Mr. Bracken makes a very balmy comic, and when he is on the screen there is constant cause for amusement, if only to look at him. His qualms in the face of native menace, his dubious displays of pomp and his general all-around dopiness are masterful scoops of burlesque. A scene in which Mr. Bracken, as the god, gives paternal advice to a maiden on how to please a husband is truly side-splitting stuff.
Mr. Lamb is also amusing, but in a less sheepish way. Indeed, his butts of angular clowning are occasionally too blunt to be enjoyed. Mr. Sullivan fits into the picture as a romantic second-lead should, and Miss Lamour moans one song, “Beloved,” and generally keeps out of the main road. There is a good bit of wiggle-dancing and other Technicolored side-shows in this film. But it is mainly the job of Mr. Bracken that makes it worth going to see.
Also on the bill at the Criterion is “Target Japan,” a two-reel Navy film, which explains—with battle scenes—the general strategy of our Pacific war through Guam. It is an eminently timely picture, although it fails to reveal anything about the war which the average news reader does not already comprehend.
Movie review by Bosley Crowther – The New York Times, October 26, 1944