Ahoy! It’s Hero’s Island (1962) on DVD
Hero’s Island may not be the most moral, Christian pirate movie ever made, but then…I haven’t seen every pirate movie. This new release from the MGM Limited Edition Collection is the story of a family that settles on Bull Island off the coast of Carolina, and it is heavily seasoned with good ol’ Christian values.
In the early 18th century, Thomas (Brendan Dillon) and Devon (Kate Manx) Mainwaring were indentured servants who are freed and given property on the island. Moving to the island with their young sons, Jafar (Darby Hinton) and Cullen (Morgan Mason), a friend (Wayte Giddens played by Warren Oates), and everything they own (which isn’t much), the first thing they do when they arrive is erect a large cross. A band of murderous fisherman watch from the tree line, making the Sign of the Cross when it’s in place.
The fishermen confront the family and advise them to get off the island, that it belongs to the Gates family (no kin to Microsoft)—Nicholas (Rip Torn), Dixey (Harry Dean Stanton), and Enoch (Robert Sampson). The Gates boys will stop at nothing to rid the island of its rightful owners, starting with murdering Thomas Mainwaring.
Soon a castaway (James Mason) washes up on shore and is discovered by Giddens. Although he claims to be Jacob Weber, he is actually Stede Bonnet, a cohort of Blackbeard, which he reveals in a rant twenty minutes before the credits roll. He reluctantly helps the settlers, but refuses to fight the Gates boys, until they bring in the big gun—Kingstree (Neville Brand).
In addition to Devon’s relentless sermonizing and proselytizing making Hero’s Island more Christian than it needs to be, it is also the tamest pirate movie you will ever see. There is swordplay, but not enough of it, and violence that is not graphic. As for sex, there are no wenches, and just a slight whisper of romantic interest that is quickly spurned.
For an action film, Hero’s Island is a bit slow and plodding, although it’s fun to watch Rip Torn, Harry Dean Stanton, and Neville Brand in roles they played fifty years ago. Hero’s Island DVDs are manufactured on demand and are available from on-line vendors.